Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for December 12th!

Canadian History for Kids: Signal Hill

“Pip, pip, pip”.

That is the sound Guglielmo Marconi heard as he pressed his ear against his receiver at Signal Hill, Newfoundland, December 12th, 1901. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of Canada, looks at life of inventor Guglielmo Marconi, and the miracle on Signal Hill.

Guglielmo Marconi was born in Italy and early in life he developed an interest in science, particularly the work of German physicist Heinrich Hertz on the transmission of electromagnetic waves through the air.

Marconi began experimenting with wireless telegraphy on his own in 1894. He discovered that by connecting his transmitter and receiver to the earth (grounding them), and then increasing the height of the antenna, he could extend the range of the signal. Despite this important technical breakthrough, the Italian government declined to sponsor his work.

Marconi moved to Great Britain where his work received greater support. In 1896 he patented his first device for wireless telegraphy and in 1897 found investors for his Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, which began manufacturing radio sets that were able to transmit and receive messages in Morse Code.

Marconi believed that radio waves would follow the earth’s curvature, making communication to ships at sea realistic. He quickly set out send a wireless message across the Atlantic.

In December 1901 Marconi assembled his receiver at Signal Hill, St. John’s, the closest point to Europe in North America. He set up his receiving apparatus in an abandoned hospital that straddled the cliff facing Europe on the top of Signal Hill.

At the appointed time each day his staff in Poldhu, England, transmitted the Morse code letter “s” – three dots. This signal had been chosen as the most easily distinguished. On the 12 December Marconi pressed his ear to the telephone headset of his rudimentary receiver and successfully heard “pip, pip, pip” – 1700 miles from the transmitter.

The age of wireless communications had begun!

And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.
 

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