“Hello!” Was the very first word every broadcast over the radio. Few folks that are not entrenched in Ham Operation know the history of the radio.

Who Is Reginald Fessenden?

Reginald Fessenden invented the radio! Canadian Reginald Fessenden adopted his love of transmission when he was a mere lad. After Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone young Reginald has been quoted as saying to a family member “Why do they have to have wires?” This was the first step in a life long journey to answer that very question.

Like all great inventions, the earliest attempts were miserable failed attempts. His theories earned him a government contract, Fessenden, and his assistant Thiessen, worked diligently to meet the challenge until they were able to meet with success.

Fessenden founded the National Electric Signaling Company (NESCO) with money invested by two wealthy fruit company owners once he had fulfilled his contractual obligations to the government, because of his failed attempts the government opted not to renew funding. As part of the United Fruit Company he worked to figure out a way for their ships at sea could communicate with the folks back in Pittsburgh.

The money that his backers invested bought high powered transmitters and antenna systems. In June of 1906 the first ever voice transmission was sent and received successfully a total of 12 miles away. Fessenden continued to plug away at improvements until he reached the point where he knew his invention was a success.

Six months after the first ever voice transmission over the air waves a surprise transmission to ships on the day before Christmas in nineteen six.

As his wife and employees as co-conspirator’s he prepared a special Christmas program On ship operators were told to tune in to receive a special Christmas message on December 24th at 9:00 pm. Radio operators sat stunned when 9:00 pm rolled around and a voice came over the air calling out “CQ, CQ”.

This was the first “radio” program. Ships across the North Atlantic were treated to Handel’s “Largo” played on a Victrola and “O, Holy Night” played for “the audience” by Fessenden on his violin.

The Rest Is History

This new technology called Radio set the world on fire. Hobbyist and early day techies could not get enough of this device and loved the idea of talking to people may miles away without being tied to a cord. They were, and are still, called “amateur” radio operators. Long before commercial broadcasting was on the radar “amateur” radio operators filled the airwaves.  Official laws were first instituted in 1912 by congress. A newly formed agency was put in place by the federal government in nineteen twenty seven that was responsible for regulating radio usage including ham radio operations.  Amateur radio operators have been on the cutting edge of communication since the inception of the radio. They were the first to use cell phones and the first to use FM broadcast.  The inventor did not know the impact he would have on the world.

 

Source by Stanley Braverman