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History of Radio

  • Birth of Radio

    Birth of Radio
    Guglielmo Marconi builds the first successful wireless telegraphy system based on radio transmissions. Its application was demonstrated in marine and military communications. Marconi was later awarded a patent for the invention of radio by the US Patent Office.
  • First Audio Radio Broadcast

    First Audio Radio Broadcast
    Reginald Fessenden makes the first audio broadcast from Brant Rock, Massachusetts. This was accomplished by using an Alexanderson alternator and a rotary spark-gap transmitter. This is believed to be the start of audio modulation (AM) radio.
  • Broadcast Station Experiments

    Broadcast Station Experiments
    Charles David Herrold constructs a broadcast station in San Jose, California. In order to make the signal spread in multiple directions, he designs a few omnidirectional antennas and places them on the rooftops of some buildings in the area. The station doesn't use call letters, but becomes known as KCBS later on.
  • Radio and the Titanic

    Radio and the Titanic
    The RMS Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks. Using wireless radio, it contacts other ships for assistance. Spark-gap transmitter radios are used on large ships worldwide following the event.
  • Radio Entertainment

    Radio Entertainment
    Hanso Schotanus à Steringa Idzerda, a Dutch engineer, makes the first regular entertainnment broadcast from his home. The program becomes popular and is broadcast four nights a week for the next 5 years. Entertainment broadcasts eventually reach other parts of the world.
  • Music on Radio

    Music on Radio
    Throughout this decade, the popularity of music on radio increases. People enjoy the idea of listening to music for free at any time. This, hwever, causes a controversy between copyright holders and broadcasting stations.
  • First Commercial Radio Station

    First Commercial Radio Station
    KDKA, a Pittsburgh radio station, is created. It's widely believed to be the world's first commercial radio station. The first broadcast is the results of the presidential election.
  • Radio Advertising

    Radio Advertising
    New York's WEAF (later known as WNBC) is said to have aired the first paid radio advertisement. The spot is for the Queensboro Corporation, and advertises an apartment complex. Though it's widely believed that this is the first radio advertisement, attempts as early as 1920 have been documented.
  • Legal Issues Arise

    Legal Issues Arise
    The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) starts collecting license fees from radio stations after legal disputes start popping up. Until this point, the copyright owners of the songs were concerned that radio stations were gaining profit for playing music freely, while they weren't getting anything. Large stations have to pay thousands of dollars for music protected under the ASCAP.
  • Stereo sound

    Stereo sound
    5XX, the BBC's experimental radio station, makes the world's first stereo broadcast. For the next few decades, various radio stations experiment with this type of sound. In 1961, the FCC announces that regular stereo broadcasting in the US will begin on June 1.
  • Frequency Modulation Radio

    Frequency Modulation Radio
    Edwin H. Armstrong patents FM radio. The frequency modulation allows static and interference from electrical equipment to be reduced, resulting in clearer sound. The first experimental radio station to use this technology (W1XOJ, now WAAF) was constructed in 1937.
  • Transistor Radio

    Transistor Radio
    The Regency TR-1 transistor radio goes on sale. It uses a 22.5 volt battery to achieve adequate radio performance. Despite poor sound quality, it becomes a novelty item and sells about 150,000 units.
  • Invention of Internet Radio

    Invention of Internet Radio
    Carl Malamud creates "Internet Talk Radio," the first internet radio program. As time goes on, music programs become popular, and sound quality contnues to increase. Without this technology, music streaming sites like Pandora wouldn't exist.
  • Digital Radio

    Digital Radio
    The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) launches the world's first DAB (digital audio broadcasting) station. This form of radio broadcasting is used in Europe and was experimented with in the 1980s. Different kinds of digital radio start popping up in other parts of the world near the end of the decade.
  • DMCA

    The US Congress passes the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). Aside from publishing royalties, performance royalties have to be paid for broadcasts on satellite radio and Internet radio. Reception toward this law is mixed.