Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, March 27, 1999 Published at 09:05 GMT


A century of radio

Guglielmo Marconi in 1896 with his pioneering radio set

"Greetings from France to England through the ether..." so began the international age of telecommunications exactly 100 years ago.

The centenary of the first international radio transmission by radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi is taking place this weekend.

BBC Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh: An historic transmission
The event marks the historic 31-mile cross-Channel broadcast from a lighthouse in Dover to Wimereux on the French coast on March 27, 1899.

It came at a time when people scoffed that there was no future for radio. But the first wireless Morse code message transmitted between two countries was proof that the "radiotelegraph" could work over long distances.

The new era of the wireless

[ image: Marconi's work opened up a new era of radio communications]
Marconi's work opened up a new era of radio communications
Its success captured the public imagination and heralded a new age in global communications.

The transmission was the culmination of five years of experiments by Marconi.

A few months after the historic broadcast the method of communication was adopted by the British navy.

It subsequently became very important in helping to save lives at sea and just under a month after the first international transmission the international distress signal (later SOS) was used for the first time during a shipwreck off the Kent coast.

Later the power of the wireless was harnessed for entertainment purposes and the BBC was born.

Radio hams help out

On Saturday there will be a re-enactment of the historic transmission from the exact place the first message was sent - South Foreland lighthouse near Dover.

[ image: Sound effects creators for BBC radio  in 1942]
Sound effects creators for BBC radio in 1942
Marconi's daughter, Princess Elettra Marconi, will help to send the message using the original radio callsign GB100SFL.

Joining her to mark the occasion will be representatives from the National Trust, Barry Amateur Radio Society and members of the public.

BBC Science reporter Pallab Ghosh: A new age of global communications
Marconi taught himself all he knew about radio, proud of his self-education - he was often called the first radio amateur.

Barry Amateur Radio Society are so enthused by the event that they plan to dress up in period costume and use replica's of Marconi's transmitter to send messages to other amateurs around the world.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Entertainment Contents

TV and Radio
New Media
Internet Links

100 years of radio

Marconi centenery

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.