By Mary Bellis
Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden had been trained as an electrician. So when Edison wanted to make him a chemist, Reginald Fessenden protested. Edison replied, "I have had a lot of chemists . . . but none of them can get results." Reginald Fessenden turned out to be an excellent chemist, working with insulation for electrical wires. He left the West Orange lab around 1889 and patented several inventions of his own, including patents for telephony and telegraphy. In 1906, Reginald Fessenden became the first person to broadcast words and music over radio waves.
- Extracts From National Capitol Commission of Canada;
Canadian, Reginald Fessenden is best known for his invention of the modulation of radio waves and the fathometer. Fessenden worked as as a chemist for Thomas Edison during the 1880s and later for Westinghouse. Reginald Fessenden started his own company where he invented the modulation of radio waves, the "heterodyne principle" which allowed the reception and transmission on the same aerial without interference. On Christmas Eve, 1906, ships off the Atlantic coast with Fessenden-designed equipment broadcast the first trans-Atlantic voice transmission. Fessenden held over 500 patents and won Scientific American's Gold Medal in 1929 for the fathometer, which could measure the depth of water beneath a ship's keel.
At the end of the 19th century, people communicated by radio using Morse code - sputtering dots and dashes that trained radio operators could decode into a message. A Canadian inventor, Reginald Fessenden, changed all that. In 1900 he transmitted the world's first voice message. It took six years for Reginald Fessenden to refine his invention but on Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden made the first radio broadcast in history. In the 1920s, vessels of all sizes were using Fessenden's "depth sounding" technology. Thomas Edison invented the first commercial light bulb. But Reginald Fessenden re-invented the light bulb and did it better.
"December 23, 1900...This afternoon, here at Cobb Island, intelligible speech by electromagnetic waves has for the first time in the world's history been transmitted."
Fessenden A Voice in the Air
Reginald Fessenden, the Canadian inventor of radio telephony.
Forgotten Canadian - Reginald Fessenden
Few people shared Reginald Fessenden's belief that broadcasting voices was possible.
Reginald Fessenden is known for discovering amplitude modulation (AM) radio and explaining its scientific principles.
First Broadcast of Reginald Fessenden
News about the Reginald Fessenden's first broadcast.
History of Radio
Ancient radios - radio (high-frequency alternator) - the first radio broadcast.