Radio – Coming of Age
Radio was the miracle of the early years of twentieth century. It caught the imagination of the public; the same way computers and internet are doing today. What seems to be a simple appliance today, back in 1920, was a magic box that could catch voice and music from air transmitted from hundreds of miles away.
Who invented radio? There are several claims to this honor. Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian, first transmitted wireless signals in 1896. But two years before that, Nicoli Tesla had developed a theoretical model for transmission of radio waves. Ultimately Tesla was recognized as the inventor of the radio. Early transmissions were only telegraph signals, not voice. The first wireless transmission of voice happened only in 1915. There are several other stories of voice transmission even before that, which remain unverified. One of them is of Natan B. Stubblefield, who reportedly said “Hello Rainey” to his friend in 1892. Another one is about Reginald A. Fessenden, who reportedly broadcasted a voice program in 1906, which was heard by several ships within a close range.
Early radios, unlike today’s, were quite bulky boxes working on wet/dry batteries and with headsets. !920’s and 1930’s were the decades of rapid technological advancements. The sound quality improved and radios worked on A.C. power. Headphones were replaced by speakers. By advent of 1940’s radio occupied a place in most American living rooms. They became major source of entertainment and news for people during the time of depression. Transistors were invented in 1947. In 1952, first portable radio came into market.
Frequency modulated or FM radio was invented in 1933. From 1970’s through 1980’s, FM radio became very popular at the cost of AM radio, especially among youth, due to superior sound quality and innovative musical programs. 1980’s were the years of decline in the popularity of radio, due to huge popularity of many television channels.
But last decade of the twentieth century saw the revival in the popularity of radio. Recently, there have been many technological advances, that have transformed radio broadcasting. Satellite radio is a new technology that uses satellites to send digital radio signals. This allows a user to receive a program over a much wider area as compared to traditional radio. Satellites radio is a payment based service that provides news, weather, sports and music mostly without any advertisements to the user. Although there are some hassles with satellite radios, such as problems in catching signals near tall buildings, they have been gaining popularity.
Internet radio has given new dimensions to radio Broadcasting. There are a huge number of live radio stations on internet providing a user with many options to choose from. Besides, you don’t need a separate instrument to listen to your favorite program from internet. They are very easy to use, needing just visiting on a website and click of a button on computer. They have taken radio broadcasting to a new level.
Radio has come a long way since the days of its invention. From being a bulky device, today they have become parts of mobile phones, computers, watches and even pens, providing users with many live stations and a great variety of programs to choose from.