MARCONI, MARCHESE GUGLIELMO (1874-1937), Italian inventor who put wireless telegraphy on a commercial basis, was born at Bologna on April 25, 1874, the younger son of an Italian father and an Irish mother. He was educated privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. As a boy he took a keen in terest in physical and electrical science. In 1895 the idea became firmly rooted in his mind that a system of telegraphy through space could be provided by means of electromagnetic waves, the existence of which had been foreseen mathematically by Clerk Maxwell in 1864 and later investigated experimentally by Hein rich Hertz, Oliver Lodge, Righi and others. Interesting scientific experiments had been carried out in London and elsewhere with these electric waves, but Marconi was the first to devise the prac tical means by which they could be made to provide a new and revolutionary method of telegraphic communication. In the early summer of 1895, Marconi conducted a number of experiments at his father's country house at Pontecchio, near Bologna. These experiments, made with crude and inefficient apparatus, soon began to give results which appeared to Marconi to be remarkable, communication being established in that year over distances in excess of a mile. He was created a Marchese in 1929.
apparatus in Rome, where successful tests were carried out in the presence of the late King Humbert and Queen Margherita. Other tests also took place at the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
The time was now almost ripe for wireless telegraphy to be applied to commercial and utilitarian purposes, and in July 1897 a company was formed in London to acquire the Marconi patents in all countries except Italy. This company was called the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, Limited, which in 190o changed its name to that of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Lim ited (q.v.). For some time the company's efforts were confined to furthering Marconi's pioneer work. A number of interesting tests and demonstrations were undertaken round the coasts of the British Isles and abroad. Permanent stations were erected at Alum bay in the Isle of Wight and at Bournemouth, this sta tion being subsequently removed to Poole.
In 1898 wireless telegraphy was first employed as a means of communication between lightships and the shore by installations on the East Goodwin lightship and the South Foreland lighthouse, separated by a distance of about miles. The utility of wireless in saving life at sea was demonstrated for the first time when, on March 3, 1899, that lightship was run down by a steamer. The accident was at once reported by wireless to the South Foreland, enabling life-boats to be promptly sent to the assistance of the light vessel. In March 1898 Marconi established communication across the English Channel between England and France. During this year wireless was also first utilised in the naval manoeuvres for communication between warships over distances of 74 miles. The first military application of wireless took place during the South African War.