Monday, June 02, 2008

Marconi vs. Tessla: Radio Wars

Nikola Tesla at 23 years oldTesla image via WikipediaRadio was patented on this date in 1896 and the air waves were never the same again. But it was a rocky start.

In early 1895, Nikola Tesla was ready to transmit, but his plan was delayed when his lab was destroyed by fire. Guglielmo Marconi was awarded a UK patent in 1896 for wireless telegraphy, and Tesla applied for a patent for basic radio in 1897. When Marconi first performed a long-distance demonstration, he used the Tesla oscillator.

Marconi's first American patent application in 1900 was denied because of Tesla's priorities. In 1904, the US patent office reversed it's decisions and gave the radio patent to Marconi.

Marconi won the Nobel prize in 1911, and Tesla sued him for infringement, but could not follow through with the suit because of financial circumstances.

In the end -- or at least since 1943 -- the US Supreme Court upheld Tesla's claim to the radio patent. Tesla died a few months before the decision, so he never knew.

Read more about Tesla and The Invention of Radio.

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