The first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves
During the 1894 British Association meeting in Oxford, Oliver Lodge was
lecturing on light and the way in which it is perceived by the brain. On 14th August
he set up a demonstration in which a morse key activated a transmission that
was received in an adjacent room and caused the deflection of a spot of light.
This was in effect the first public demonstration of wireless, but no-one saw
any practical application for the phenomenon, and it passed without note.
Marconi on the job
Marconi, however, who had almost no formal scientific education, worked
round the clock to develop a commercial communication system. The British GPO
were only mildly impressed, and failed to see the possibilities of a popular
entertainment system based on radio. Similarly, the experts mocked Marconi's
plans for transatlantic communication: they knew that the curvature of the
earth would defeat him, and that his straight-line signals would simply head
out into space!
The first hackers?
At an early Marconi radio
demonstration, a rival group set up nearby and transmitted a jamming signal so
as to disrupt the proceedings.
The above items come from a book on Oliver Lodge, Cambridge University Library 459.c.97.159
How he would have loved to see Skype!
During the 1860s there was a cash crisis at the Royal Academy of Music.
Teaching staff were being laid off, to minimise operating costs. Principal
William S Bennett speculated that if the trend continued “he expected to
teach future music students by electronic telegraph in Hyde Park” –
presumably an allusion to the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park during the summer
of 1851, when the Electric Telegraph Company demonstrated its prowess to the
many visitors, including Queen Victoria herself. (Source: Museum Display at Royal Academy of Music, quoting from the ‘Musical
Times’ of 1868.)