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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 17:59 GMT
Marconi centenary marked
Marconi memorial: BBC
Marconi's grandson visited the historic site
A radio signal has been sent across the Atlantic from Cornwall to Newfoundland to mark the 100th anniversary of Guglielmo Marconi's historic wireless transmission.


It was the moment when radio had its highest victory

Marconi's grandson
On 12 December, 1901, Marconi was on Signal Hill in Newfoundland when he heard three faint clicks tapping out the Morse code for the letter "s".

The signal was transmitted from Poldhu near Mullion, a distance of some 3,000 kilometres. It was the first time that the Atlantic Ocean had been bridged by radio.

To mark the centenary, Marconi's grandson was in Cornwall. In a re-enactment of the original experiment, the grandson spelt out the letter "s" in Morse code; it was picked up in Newfoundland, which responded with the letter "r".

His grandfather's work showed that wireless signals could beat the curvature of the Earth and travel over long distances. It paved the way for radio, television and modern telecommunications.

Atlantic leap

The Italian pioneer's descendant, who is also called Guglielmo Marconi, visited Poldhu on Wednesday, where he paid tribute to his grandfather.

"For the family, it is an important occasion and I am very proud to be here," he said. "It was the moment when radio had its highest victory."

Marconi: Marconi plc
Guglielmo Marconi, senior
Image by Marconi plc

He said it was a great pleasure to be in a place linked to the memory and history of his grandfather.

"It is a very historical event which marks the beginning of wireless communication throughout the world - an event that brought the world closer and closer," he added.

Mr Marconi visited the memorial to his grandfather that stands overlooking the Atlantic.

A new 300,000 Marconi Centre, which charts the history of communications from Marconi to the present day, has been opened nearby.

Dot, dot, dot

Nick Lawrence of the National Trust, which funded the centre together with Marconi plc and a local grant, said: "The Marconi Centre represents another chapter in the continuing history of Cornwall and its links with world communications."

Signal Hill, Newfoundland, where the signal was received. Image: Marconi plc
Signal Hill, Newfoundland, where the signal was received
Image by Marconi plc

Celebrations also took place in Italy, Marconi's birthplace.

Italian radio stations paid tribute to Marconi by playing historical radio clips between songs.

Scientists at the National Research Council's Institute for Radio Astronomy, where Marconi was once president, transmitted the inventor's own comments on his Atlantic leap.

"This confirms that which I've believed for some time," Marconi said at the time. "There is no distance on Earth that radio communications cannot conquer."

The work of Marconi, one of a handful of men at the turn of the century who pioneered the emerging field of wireless, helped to revolutionise global communications.

At the time of his birth, in 1874, the only means of keeping in touch over long distances was by telephone or telegraph linked by wires.

By the time he died, in 1937, the world was linked by radio.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane O'Brien
"Amateur radio enthusiasts have been here all day"
BBC Radio Cornwall's Matt Pengelly
"Marconi had a privileged upbringing"
Matt Pengelly reports
The Marconi Centre at Poldhu commemorates the Italian's achievements
Matt Pengelly reports
Marconi's work opened up international communication
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