Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type



Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science


The first real wireless communication system was developed by a collection of scientists. Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message in 1838. James Maxwell, a Scottish physicist, developed the first theoretical method of sending electromagnetic waves through a medium in 1873. He theorized that these waves could travel at the speed of light. In 1888 Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation. Guglielmo Marconi, in 1895, conducted the first real use of radio waves by sending a signal over 2 miles to show that radio communication does not have to be in a straight line. After successfully demonstrating radio communications, Marconi quickly put his work to practical use. In 1899, he used wireless telegraphy to send a distress signal from a shipwrecked ship to a station on land, resulting in the rescue of all the passengers. During this era, many scientists feverishly worked on new wireless communication devices and their possible applications.