Marconi was born at Bologna, Italy, on April 25, 1874, the second
son of Giuseppe Marconi, an Italian country gentleman, and Annie Jameson,
daughter of Andrew Jameson of Daphne Castle in the County Wexford, Ireland.
He was educated privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. Even as
a boy he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science and
studied the works of Maxwell, Hertz, Righi, Lodge and others. In 1895
he began laboratory experiments at his father's country estate at Pontecchio
where he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one
and a half miles.
Marconi died in Rome on July 20, 1937.
In 1896 Marconi took his apparatus to England where he was introduced
to Mr. (later Sir) William Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office,
and later that year was granted the world's first patent for a system
of wireless telegraphy. He demonstrated his system successfully in London,
on Salisbury Plain and across the Bristol Channel, and in July 1897
formed The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Limited (in 1900
re-named Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Limited). In the same
year he gave a demonstration to the Italian Government at Spezia where
wireless signals were sent over a distance of twelve miles. In 1899
he established wireless communication between France and England across
the English Channel. He erected permanent wireless stations at The Needles,
Isle of Wight, at Bournemouth and later at the Haven Hotel, Poole, Dorset.
In 1900 he took out his famous patent No. 7777 for "tuned or syntonic
telegraphy" and, on an historic day in December 1901, determined
to prove that wireless waves were not affected by the curvature of the
Earth, he used his system for transmitting the first wireless signals
across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall, and St. John's, Newfoundland,
a distance of 2100 miles.
Between 1902 and 1912 he patented several new inventions. In 1902, during
a voyage in the American liner "Philadelphia", he first demonstrated
"daylight effect" relative to wireless communication and in
the same year patented his magnetic detector which then became the standard
wireless receiver for many years. In December 1902 he transmitted the
first complete messages to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia,
and later Cape Cod, Massachusetts, these early tests culminating in
1907 in the opening of the first transatlantic commercial service between
Glace Bay and Clifden, Ireland, after the first shorter-distance public
service of wireless telegraphy had been established between Bari in
Italy and Avidari in Montenegro. In 1905 he patented his horizontal
directional aerial and in 1912 a "timed spark" system for
generating continuous waves.
In 1914 he was commissioned in the Italian Army as a Lieutenant being
later promoted to Captain, and in 1916 transferred to the Navy in the
rank of Commander. He was a member of the Italian Government mission
to the United States in 1917 and in 1919 was appointed Italian plenipotentiary
delegate to the Paris Peace Conference. He was awarded the Italian Military
Medal in 1919 in recognition of his war service.
During his war service in Italy he returned to his investigation of
short waves, which he had used in his first experiments. After further
tests by his collaborators in England, an intensive series of trials
was conducted in 1923 between experimental installations at the Poldhu
Station and in Marconi's yacht "Elettra" cruising in the Atlantic
and Mediterranean, and this led to the establishment of the beam system
for long distance communication. Proposals to use this system as a means
of Imperial communications were accepted by the British Government and
the first beam station, linking England and Canada, was opened in 1926,
other stations being added the following year.
In 1931 Marconi began research into the propagation characteristics
of still shorter waves, resulting in the opening in 1932 of the world's
first microwave radiotelephone link between the Vatican City and the
Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. Two years later at Sestri
Levante he demonstrated his microwave radio beacon for ship navigation
and in 1935, again in Italy, gave a practical demonstration of the principles
of radar, the coming of which he had first foretold in a lecture to
the American Institute of Radio Engineers in New York in 1922.
He has been the recipient of honorary doctorates of several universities
and many other international honours and awards, among them the Nobel
Prize for Physics, which in 1909 he shared with Professor Karl Braun,
the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts, the John Fritz Medal
and the Kelvin Medal. He was decorated by the Tsar of Russia with the
Order of St. Anne, the King of Italy created him Commander of the Order
of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and awarded him the Grand Cross of the
Order of the Crown of Italy in 1902. Marconi also received the freedom
of the City of Rome (1903), and was created Chevalier of the Civil Order
of Savoy in 1905. Many other distinctions of this kind followed. In
1914 he was both created a Senatore in the Italian Senate and app ointed
Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in England.
He received the hereditary title of Marchese in 1929.
In 1905 he married the Hon. Beatrice O'Brien, daughter of the 14th Baron
Inchiquin, the marriage being annulled in 1927, in which year he married
the Countess Bezzi-Scali of Rome. He had one son and two daughters by
his first and one daughter by his second wife. His recreations were
hunting, cycling and motoring.