Who invented the radio? It’s a seemingly simple question, but the answer is more complicated than many people realize. There were scientists who theorized the possibility of using radio waves to send messages, as well as those who put the theory into practice. There were also those who worked to improve the process of radio transmission by developing new directional couplers and other equipment involved in broadcasting. Some are well-known names, while others are more obscure, but all deserve some credit for the invention of the radio.
1. Guglielmo Marconi
Marconi usually gets the credit for the invention of the radio. He was an Italian physicist who first became interested in sending wireless communications in 1890. Marconi began radio wave experiments at the age of 20. He was the first to achieve radio wave transmission in 1895 and, along with Karl Ferdinand Braun, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy in 1909.
2. J.C. Bose
Jagadish Chandra Bose was a multidisciplinary scientist from India. At that time, India was governed by the British, and Bose received his education in Calcutta and London. Under the sponsorship of the British General in Calcutta, Bose developed a coherer, which was used in early receivers to detect radio waves. In 1904, the United States awarded Bose a patent for his invention.
3. Nicola Tesla
Today, Tesla is best known for his prodigious contributions to the field of physics, his infamous rivalry with Thomas Edison, and for having a brand of electric cars named after him. Tesla emigrated to the United States from Serbia in 1884. Among his areas of study was radio wave transmission, which he began researching in 1884, before Marconi’s breakthrough. Tesla gained some credit for his contributions to the field in 1943 when the United States overturned Marconi’s patent.
4. James Clerk Maxwell
None of the later advances in the field of radio transmission would have been possible without Scottish mathematical physicist Maxwell. He’s the one who first theorized the existence of electromagnetic waves, including radio waves. He also proved that it was possible to propagate them in 1864.
5. Heinrich Hertz
Maxwell’s electromagnetic waves would have remained a mere theory if not for the work of German physicist Heinrich Hertz, who actually proved their existence with a series of experiments conducted between 1886 and 1889. Hertz’s instructor at the University of Berlin, Hermann von Helmholtz, suggesting testing Maxwell’s theory as the topic for Hertz’s doctoral dissertation. Hertz earned his doctoral degree in 1880 and continued his research on radio waves thereafter. The frequency of a wave is now measured in units called Hertz in his honor.