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Aleksandr Stepanovič Popov

Aleksandr Popov was born in 1859 in a village in the Urals. Despite family tradition expecting him to pursue a career in the church, he cultivated an interest in the exact sciences, moving to St Petersburg where he graduated brilliantly from his studies. He then worked as a teacher and researcher for the Navy's Torpedo School at Kronstadt.

Popov was considered an authority in the electrical sector and he served regularly as a consultant and technician with the Russian Navy. He was up-to-date with the works of Hertz, Branly and Lodge and in 1895 he invented a device which was able to receive and record electrical oscillations. It was a forerunner to the wireless communication system. Sometime later Popov heard of Marconi's experiments, which he realised were very similar to his own.

In 1897, encouraged by the Navy, Popov carried out some experiments with wireless telegraphy and from 1898 he worked with the French engineer and businessman Eugène Ducretet. They began building telegraphic stations based on the Popov-Ducretet system and received many orders from the Russian Navy. In 1899 Popov invented a telephone receiver for the acoustic reading of telegraphic messages and from 1900 he began installing wireless telegraphic equipment on Russian war ships.

The war against Japan had a terrible impact on Popov. In 1904, the Russian fleet that was moving towards the Pacific Ocean needed twenty four wireless stations, but their order was given to the German company Telefunken because Kronstadt's factory could not produce the goods quickly enough. Popov was devastated when in 1905 Russia was defeated in the Tsushima battle, where many of his students were killed. A few months later Popov died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage.

Following his death, the Russian authorities declared Popov to be the real inventor of wireless telegraphy despite the fact that Popov himself had only ever claimed to have made a contribution to the invention, acknowledging Marconi as the rightful inventor. Infact in the summer of 1902 Popov met Marconi, who had arrived at Kronstadt on the cruiser Carlo Alberto where he had been carrying out some experiments. The Italian King, Victor Emmanuel III, who had been invited to the wedding of the Czar's son was on the same boat. It is claimed that on that occasion Popov publicly welcomed Marconi as the «father of radio».

 

 A.S. Povov Museum of Communications - St. Petersburg

 

 

 

     

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Francesco Paresceparesce francesco

Marconi was the right man in the right place at the right time. He was the right man because he had the ideal combination of personal characteristics for the job: persistence, daring, technical ability, charisma and flair for public relations.



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