August 11, 2020

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine

Why Titanic’s first call for help wasn’t an SOS signal

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When RMS Titanic set sail in 1912, it was blessed and cursed with the latest in communication technology—the wireless telegraph. In the last hours after Titanic hit an iceberg, radio messages sent from the storied sinking ship summoned a rescue vessel that saved hundreds of people, but also sowed confusion with competing distress calls and signal interference. More than 1,500 people died that fateful night.

Now, a recent court ruling may pave the way to the recovery of Titanic’s telegraph, designed by Guglielmo Marconi, a telecommunications pioneer and 1909 Nobel Prize winner in physics who invented the first device to facilitate wireless communications using radio waves.

Initially developed in the late 1800s, the Marconi telegraph used long radio wavelengths that didn’t travel very far and were susceptible to interference. Around the same time, other radio inventors were developing more efficient ways to broadcast voices and transmit continuous wireless broadcasts on shorter wavelengths. Marconi, however, had a commercial monopoly on his wireless telegraph, cornering a luxury market for non-essential communications at sea that included Titanic.

Read more – National Geographic: https://on.natgeo.com/2Awf1W7

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