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Lecture 6

Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Reginald Fessenden, Atlantic Ocean, Heinrich Hertz

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

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Radio History (Week 6)
Limited to where the lines were laid
Both bi-directional
Phone instantaneous
Both were privately owned but there was public regulation, especially of the
telephone industry
o Gov. approved monopolies
Telephone is a natural monopoly
o Only makes sense if one company does it but you have to regulate that
company, a regulated monopoly
o The early radio morse code messages were very similar to telegraph,
but it went into the ether and could be picked up by someone with a
radio receiver somewhere else
Bi-directional: one to one
o Individuals have their radio sets, they tap out morse code, someone
else taps out morse code back
o Not how radio works today
Today radio is not one to one, it is one to many
Today it is a one way model
o Went from bi-directional to uni-directional
o Central transmitter to passive receivers
o Broadcasting
Public interest/commercial interest
o The state plays a big role in radio
o Government regulated radio far more so than other types of
communication would become because the public had an interest
because the radio waves in the air were limited, and gov had to step in
and make sure radio stations would have a public mission
o The public had more of an impact on its development than the
Radio waves
o Electro-magnetic energy, radiating in waves (not wires)
o Go very fast
o Could travel for hundreds of miles
Heinrich Hertz (1888)
o Lab experiments
o Telegraph without wires (ertzian waves
Sent in Morse code
It could go where the telegraph could not go
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The main place the telegraph could not go was over water
o Communicate between ship and shore
o Very popular with shipping
Trans-Atlantic Signal
o Telegraph that goes under the atlantic, but this meant that the ships
could not get telegraph signals
Marconi Wireless Telegraph and Signal Co
o Trans-Atlantic
o First commercial service
Dec 1901
o Marconi sent the first wireless radio message across the Atlantic
o Cheaper than the telegraph with the wire under the ocean
o Conflict from telegraph companies
Still being done by Morse code
Influenced by Bell
o Take a microphone circuit and put it in a radio transmitter output ad
transmit a voice message over the radio waves as opposed to voice
First voice transmission
o Radiotelephone 9
o  is it snowing where you are was the first message
Shore-to-ship broadcast, 96
o Christmas eve
o Record some poetry reciting, some violin and singing, and
broadcasted that out to any ships that wouldve been going along the
shore and picking it up
Still dont see regular voice broadcasting till the 9s
Morse Code
Shipping/distress calls
o 1909: shipwreck out at sea and the wireless communications saved
1700 lives
Titanic (1912)
o The radio operator sends out a distress signal
o The wireless operator on the closest ship had already gone to bed
o The ships radioed shore to tell them to send ships, but through the
trans-atlantic wire, people in London were keeping up with the rescue
through the telegraph
Simultaneity of Experience
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o A large number of people can experience something in real time living
in different parts of the world
o Wireless radio signals enabled that to happen
Worldwide network
o By the 1910s
Now its not just companies that are getting radio, they become more
available to regular people
Technical expertise
o Home-made radio sets
o People would get them and then do exploratory listening
Exploratory listening-distance
o Listen to what kinds of messages you could get
o Wasnt cheap
Middle-class boys/men
o Disproportionately male than female
Unregulated frequencies
o Send messages back and forth
o By 1910, there were more amateur operators than there were
commercial or military ones
o All Titanic passengers safe
Obscene/false messages
o Pretending to be ship commanders
o Shading officials
o It was hard to pin down where the signals were coming from
Lots of radio traffic
o They were clogging up the airwaves
Radio Act of 1912 (US)
o They required the amateur users to have a license
o The amateur could not transmit on wavelengths reserved for
commercial interests or the military
o They were pushing them into certain frequency areas
o Limited the power of these radio sets
By limiting the power of th radios et you limit the distance that
tit can travel and can contain the amateur ones
WORLD WAR 1 (1914-1918)
Military control
o Naval/Shell-spotting
o Radio was useful for military operations, especially naval battles
o You had to develop a secret code, cant just use Morse code
o Ban citizen use during the war
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