More than 100 years later, ask any two people who invented the radio and you’re likely to get two different answers. Let’s find out the correct one
Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla and Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi went head-to-head in what would become the race to invent the radio.
- In 1884, Tesla invented the induction coil or Tesla coil, a device essential to sending and receiving radio waves.
- In 1895, a fire destroyed Tesla’s lab as he prepared to send a radio signal approximately 50 miles (80 kilometres) to West Point, N.Y.
- Marconi had been conducting his own experiments and in 1896, sent and received Morse code-based radio signals at distances spanning nearly 4 miles in England.
- That same year Marconi applied for and was granted, the world’s first patent in wireless telegraphy in England.
- Tesla applied for his first patents in radio work in 1897 in America. He also built and demonstrated a radio-controlled boat at Madison Square Garden in 1898.
- In 1900, the U.S. Patent Office granted Tesla patents 645,576 and 649,621, the fundamental design of the Tesla coils, on March 20 and May 15 respectively. That same year, on Nov. 10, Marconi filed patent No. 7777, for tuned telegraphy.
- Marconi’s application was denied on the grounds of that it was Tesla’s copy.
- Marconi reapplied after three years while he gained financial support from company investors Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison and finally, he was given the patent for radio invention.
- Tesla sued the Marconi Company for patent infringement to no avail.
- Marconi’s company sued the U.S. government in 1943 for patent infringement during World War I. But the case never made it to court.
- To avoid the lawsuit altogether, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld patent 645,576, thus restoring Tesla as the inventor of the radio. Nevertheless, many people still tend to think of Marconi as the father of the radio.