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Reginald Aubrey Fessenden

On Christmas Eve, in 1906, a continuous wave transmitter, devised by the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden, broadcasted from Brant Rock an articulated voice and music program, astonishing the Marconists aboard the nearby ships as well as the other numerous radio operators of the area. Six years prior – on December 23rd 1900 - Fessenden had transmitted voice messages over a distance of 1.6 km. The prehistory of broadcasting can be framed within these two dates, afterward, thanks to numerous contributions, an impressive progression was triggered which led to the first “official” broadcast by the Marconi factory in Chelmsford in 1920.

Fessenden, born in East Bolton (Québec) in 1866, moved to New York in 1886 and then began working for Edison in New Jersey. After a few years, recruited – as Tesla – by Westinghouse, he found himself teaching electronic engineering at Western University in Pennsylvania.

In 1898 he began carrying out wireless experiments, convinced that he could improve Marconi's technology. In 1900 he was hired by the U.S. Weather Bureau, where after a few years he developed an electrolyte-based detector and the heterodyne principle (which was only fully applied years later).

In 1902, backed by two business men from Pittsburgh, he founded the Nesco (National Electric Signaling Company) with its operating office in Brant Rock, Massachusetts. From there, in addition to the first experimental broadcast, he conducted, also in 1906, the first bidirectional transatlantic broadcast (with Scotland).

He then founded his own company in Montréal, continuing to carrying out numerous endeavors for several years. He deposited, in fact, over 500 patents under his name, and was involved in many legal battles. He is especially remembered for the invention of an acoustic apparatus (which bears his name) for underwater signaling. But he never achieved great fame in the public's eye and this scarce popularity is undeserved because he gave a major contribution to the advent of that wireless telephony which was later coined broadcasting.

Fessenden died in Bermuda (United Kingdom) in 1932.





























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