[AWA] Best of the "century"?

Lee Smith ckvnfm at MB.SYMPATICO.CA
Sat Dec 25 01:03:05 EST 1999

Hello All:

First, a merry christmas to all "on freq" and it is very appropriate that
this topic should be posted tonite.

My vote goes to a Canadian born engineer named Reginald Fessenden who did
all his work in the US in the early 1900's and developed the start of what I
will call  "true radio" where continuous waves were generated rather than
spark transmissions.

On Christmas eve of 1906, Fessenden is credited with making the first voice
radio telephony transmissions.  This transmission also included violin music
and a short greeting to all ships at sea.

This is a "cut and paste" from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall
of Fame site.
"After struggling to obtain financial backing for further experiments, and
jeopardising his rights to many of his inventions, at Christmastime in 1906,
Fessenden beamed the first radio broadcast to astonished crews in ships at

The first-ever radio program was transmitted from Boston on Christmas Eve
with the inventor also being a performer. On his violin, he played 0 HOLY
NIGHT and gave several readings from the bible. Joined by his wife and a
friend, they sang Christmas carols. Unfortunately, this remarkable feat was
eclipsed by the praise lavished on Marconi and others, and he has been all
but forgotten in history."

The  first experiments with voice trnasmissions used  a carbon mike was
inserted in the antenna of a spark transmitter and modulation impressed on
the signal, but with a horrendous noise from the spark also present.
Fessenden later progressed to the deveolment of conyinuous waves and
modulated them to provide "high quality audio" transmissions.

Here are a few links to Reginald Fessenden sites that might make for some
interesting viewing for you.

This site leads to a Real Audio file of a re-encatment of the first




This site provides extensive data and schematics of the early method of
voice transmission.  http://www.ipass.net/~whitetho/fess1907.htm

I'll steer clear of the "What's the best radio?" question...too many people
out there to offend!

All the best to all of you during the holday period.

73 de
Lee Smith

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