Early radio, which was originally called “wireless”, can be traced back to the 19th century. Most radio historians credit an Italian inventor named Guglielmo Marconi with achieving the practical break through in wireless transmission in the late 1890’s.
Marconi introduced his wireless success to the U.S. in 1899, by installing his gear in U.S. Navy Ships. The U.S.S. New York, an armored cruiser, and transmitted the first wireless messages to a shore station at Highland Light, Navesink, New Jersey on November 2, 1899.
The evolution of radio significantly advanced after invention of the vacuum tube. In 1904 an Englishman named, J. A. Fleming, used important discoveries made by Thomas Edison to invent the vacuum tube, dubbed the “Fleming value”.
In 1906, Dr,. Lee DeForest, an American, invented the first amplifying vacuum tube, known as the “audion” tube. This invention proved pivotal for future radio development.
The first public radio broadcast occurred on November 2, l920. KDKA Pittsburgh broadcast the presidential election results that sent Warren G. Harding to the White House.
In the early 1920’s, consumers could only power their radios by crystal or battery. It was not until the mid 1920’s that electricity was used as the power supply for radios, from either direct (“DC”) or alternating (“AC”) current. For instance, RCA’s first AC unit was the Radiola 17, manufactured in 1927.
today’s common “olde tyme” radio collection, the curious might find an
early Fleming value, a crystal radio, an early or rural battery set, a
DC powered fame radio and a classic radios representing a TRF, neutrodyne
and superheterodyne. And rather recently and growing in popularity, are
more “modern” transistor radios which include those manufactured in the
early 1950’s as well as ever growing “novelty” sets.