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PERSONALITIES

PERSONALITIES  FJ CAMM  FJ AND PW  WELLS COATES  JL BAIRD  MARCONI 

the people responsible

The history of radio could not be written without the efforts of those relatively few people who had the ability to recognise the potential of what would otherwise have remained either academic and without practical purpose or simply scientific curiosities. Elsewhere on this site, the technical aspects of radio development such as the work of Marconi and other early pioneers have been discussed. (See 'History')

But there is another side - in fact, many sides - to the subject.

Here on these pages is a small selection of people who, in their very different ways, made an enormous contribution to the advancement of radio and television in Great Britain. This should not be accepted as being in any way a thorough examination of their achievements nor should it be assumed that there are no others worthy of such discussion. Far from it! These simply happen to be particular favourites of mine, and I make no apology for their inclusion or, for that matter, the exclusion of others (in any case, more may be added to these pages).

On the subject of inclusion, though television is not the main concern of this website, I could not leave out the amazing John Logie Baird.  One of the first people in the world to demonstrate television, he went on to create the first video recordings, the first colour TV and the first stereoscopic (3D)  TV.

F.J. Camm made his personal contribution not by inventing but by his unique written output as an editor, an authority and a technical author. He encouraged and inspired with his designs for home building, especially in the earlier years. So important was his work that I feel justified in extending my coverage to look more closely at his approach to radio construction in the early 1930s Practical Wireless magazine, which is why Mr. Camm gets two pages here.

Wells Coates was an architect and designer of great brilliance and natural artistry who contributed much to the quality of visual design employed in the Bakelite cabinets of the Ekco Radio Company.

The name most readily associated with radio origins in most people's minds is that of Gugleilmo Marconi. Marconi  was savvy and a clever businessman but he was not the sole inventor of radio, very far from it. This misplaced belief in Marconi does a great disservice to the many inventors and experimenters who were involved with solving the problems of transmission and reception. You might never have heard of Reginald Fessenden, for one example among many - yet Fessenden was the first to suggest the audio modulation of a continuous radio wave, the principle that became the basis for all broadcasting of telephonics (i.e. speech and music). Before his groundbreaking system there was only telegraphic communication, Morse code based, and that by relatively crude interrupted spark transmission.

As mentioned above there were many more - entrepreneurs, inventors, experimenters, scientists, dreamers - whose combined efforts created the phenomenon of radio and in doing so built the foundations of today's telecommunication systems. The subject is a complex an absorbing one and is well worth exploring via books, magazines and the internet.

 

Ekco AD65 (Wells Coates)

VINTAGE RADIO world: SIXTEEN YEARS OF WEB PRESENCE