The early days of electricity appear to have been a cutthroat time. While academics were busy uncovering the mysteries of electromagnetism, bands of entrepreneurs were waiting to pounce on the pure science and engineer solutions to problems that didn’t even exist yet, but could no doubt turn into profitable ventures. We’ve all heard of the epic battles between Edison and Tesla and Westinghouse, and even with the benefit of more than a century of hindsight it’s hard to tell who did what to whom. But another conflict was brewing at the turn of 19th century, this time between an Indian polymath and an Italian nobleman, and it would determine who got credit for laying the foundations for the key technology of the 20th century – radio.
Appointment and Disappointment
In 1885, a 27-year old Jagadish Chandra Bose returned to his native India from England, where he had been studying natural science at Cambridge. Originally sent there to study medicine, Bose had withdrawn due to ill-health exacerbated by the disagreeable aroma of the dissection rooms. Instead, Bose returned with a collection of degrees in multiple disciplines and a letter of introduction that prompted the Viceroy of India to request an appointment for him at Presidency College in Kolkata (Calcutta). One did not refuse a viceroy’s request, and despite protests by the college administration, Bose was appointed professor of physics.
Sadly, the administration found ways to even the score, chiefly by not providing Bose with any laboratory space, but also by offering him only 100 rupees a month salary, half of what an Indian professor would normally make, and only a third of an Englishman’s salary. Bose protested the latter by refusing salary checks – after three years his protest worked and he got his full salary retroactively – and worked around the former by converting a tiny cubicle next to a restroom into a lab. But in those 24 square feet, equipped with instruments of his own design and paid for at his expense, Bose would work wonders and begin to engineer the embryonic field of radio.
At around the time Bose joined Presidency College, Heinrich Hertz was confirming the existence of electromagnetic waves, postulated by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s. Maxwell died before he could demonstrate that electricity, magnetism, and light are all one in the same phenomenon, but Hertz and his spark gap transmitters and receivers proved it. Inspired by this work and intrigued by the idea that “Hertzian Waves” and visible light were the same thing, Bose set about exploring this new field.
By 1895, barely a year after starting his research, Bose made the first public demonstration of radio waves in the Kolkata town hall. Details of the apparatus used are vague, but at a distance of 75 feet, he remotely rang an electric bell and ignited a small charge of gunpowder. The invited guests were amazed by the demonstration that Adrisya Alok, or “Invisible Light” as Bose would summarize it in a later essay, could pass through walls, doors, and in a particularly daring feat of showmanship, through the body of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.
Bose’s wireless demonstration was remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it took place two years before Marconi’s first public demonstrations of wireless telegraphy in England. Where Marconi was keenly interested in commercializing radio, Bose’s interest was purely academic; in fact, Bose flatly refused to patent nearly all of the inventions that would spring from his tiny workshop, on the principle that ideas should be shared freely.
The 1895 demonstration also used microwave signals instead of the low and medium frequency waves that Marconi and others were working with. Bose recognized early on that shorter wavelengths would make it easier to explore the properties of radio waves that were similar to light, like reflection, refraction, and polarization. To do so, he invented almost all the basic components of microwave systems – waveguides, polarizers, horn antennas, dielectric lenses, parabolic reflectors, and attenuators. His spark-gap transmitters were capable of 60GHz operation.
Some of Bose’s most important work in radio concerned detection of electromagnetic waves. Early wireless pioneers had discovered that electromagnetic waves could be rectified by fine metal particles contained in a tube between metal conductors; the electrical energy would cause the particles to clump together and become conductive. The device was called a coherer because of the clumping action and was used as rectifiers in all the early practical wireless receivers, despite its operation being not well-understood. Experiments with coherers continue to this day.
Early coherers had a problem, though – the filings stayed stuck together after the signal had passed. The device needed to be reset by a tiny electromagnetic tapping mechanism that jiggled the filings back into a non-conductive state before the next signal could be detected. This had obvious effects on bandwidth, so the search for better detectors was on. One improvement invented by Bose in 1899 was the iron-mercury-iron coherer, with a pool of mercury in a small metal cup. A film of insulating oil covered the mercury, and an iron disc penetrated the oil but did not make contact with the liquid mercury. RF energy would break down the insulating oil and conduct, with the advantage of not needing a decoherer to reset the system.
Bose’s improved coherer design would miraculously appear in Marconi’s transatlantic wireless receiver two years later. The circumstances are somewhat shady – Marconi’s story about how he came up with the design varied over time, and there were reports that Bose’s circuit designs were stolen from a London hotel room while he was presenting his work. In any case, Bose was not interested in commercializing his invention, which Marconi would go on to patent himself.
The Father of Semiconductors?
Bose also did early work in semiconductor detectors. Bose was exploring the optical properties of radio waves when he discovered that galena, an ore of lead rich in lead sulfide, was able to selectively conduct in the presence of radio waves. He was able to demonstrate that point contacts on galena crystals worked as a better coherer, and in an uncharacteristic move actually patented the invention. Interestingly, the patent includes descriptions of substances that show either decreased or increased resistance to current flow with increasing voltage; Bose chose to describe these a “positive” and “negative” substances, an early example of the “P-N” nomenclature that would become common in semiconductor research. Decades later, William Brattain, co-inventor of the transistor, would acknowledge that Bose had beat everyone to the punch on semiconductors and would credit him with inventing the first semiconductor rectifier.
Inventions and innovations would flow from Bose’s fertile mind for many decades. He eventually turned his attention to plant physiology, studying the stress responses of plants with a sensitive device he invented, the crescograph, which could amplify the movements of the tips of plants by a factor of 10,000. Not surprisingly, he also did important work on the effects of microwaves on plant tissues. Bose also did work comparing metal fatigue and fatigue in physically stressed plant tissues. Bose is also considered the father of Bengali science fiction.
Bose is rarely remembered as a pioneer in radio, despite all he accomplished in engineering the wireless system that would eventually stitch together the world. Given his position on patents, that’s not surprising – his inventions were his gift to the world, and he seemed content with letting others capitalize on his genius.
68 thoughts on “J.C. Bose And The Invention Of Radio”
The early literature of radio experimenters is rife with descriptions of negative resistance circuits using point contact (cat’s whisker) diodes and and reports of amplification from these crystals using two contacts. See some here: http://www.vcomp.co.uk/manuals/pdfs/PW%20Crystal%20Experimenters%20Handbook%201925.pdf
This book is date 1923 , 19 years after Bose patent, dated 1904.
Your point? I only tabled this as an example of what the (then) hacker community was up to, as ‘professional’ radio was deeply into vacuum tubes at the time.
I’m not sure if you can define that as “as an example of what the (then) hacker community was up to”, when the “hackers” involved with radio where experimenting and building with tubes as well, and professional radio most likely where looking into point contact solid state circuits as well. The booklet was a publication of “professional radio” that includes circuits to boost the sales for those advertising their products in the booklet. Where the largest market for wireless was ocen traveling vessels, and wheren’t the most stable platforms it shouldn’t be a surprise that tubes what commercial radio went with. for a time Thank you for posting the link, but all in all I feel you are trying to put hacker on to high a pedestal. I say that understand most everyone who got technology to the point where it is today where hackers of a sort. However I feel that most of today’s self describe hackers put very much effort in discovering why something doesn’t work or does work. The sort of effort that advances technology.
I wonder how far you could push this. I remember something on a website (spark zap buzz or some such) about a gent using copper oxide (I think) as a semiconductor. He’d used a torch to heat the copper.
I’ve got this image of a thing like a plotter, with a torch on it, operating over something like a PC board. It’d either burn through to cut traces, or heat and oxidize to make a semiconducting point. Have a nozzle for doping the flame, maybe?
Wonder if it would be possible to burn a whole circuit that way.
Probably need a second pass to deposit copper onto points on the semiconductors for the “base” lead…
Well Jeri has made ICs from scratch: http://hackaday.com/2010/03/10/jeri-makes-integrated-circuits/
Not from scratch, she used bought wafers. Growing your own crystals is way too hard on a small scale…
I bet there’s someone else out there, doing exactly that.
Yes, the Jeri From Scratch makes sense that it can be done.
I agree growing wafers would be too hard on a small scale – but I guess I’m kinda going the direction of if silicon wafers are too hard, does the doping on non-silcon things make it any easier on the hobby scale?
Silicon crystals are grown from vapourised silicon, in an oven at some ridiculous high temperature. I think there’s also a bit of chemistry somewhere along the line. It’s not the sort of thing you could do yourself, even if you had the money. Even if you did, getting clean, pure wafers would be an achievement. Better just to buy them.
Of course it’s better just to buy microchips too, but it’s still a hell of an achievement to make your own, even if you had to buy the raw silicon.
This web link is broken. can you please restore it?
Bose was more influential on the development of radio than Marconi, but:
“This was the beginning of years of patent battles over radio with Tesla’s patents being upheld in 1903, followed by a reverse decision in favor of Marconi in 1904. In 1943, a Supreme Court of the United States decision restored the prior patents of Tesla, Oliver Lodge, and John Stone.”
— from Wikipedia
A bit of clarification here: https://books.google.ca/books?id=c92LQsxMxEUC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=British+Court+tesla+radio&source=bl&ots=9enh3iv6Ri&sig=_cZbUxJcBpahYAzA9esD9bb_Tj0&hl=en&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=British%20Court%20tesla%20radio&f=false
It’s funny how the american inventor are ending up being restored in their patents… by the supreme court of america!
One time, I was at a american museum on Edison and it was claimed that he invented cinema…
Lumiere brothers. Also Joseph Swan for the light bulb. Edison invented an early form of exploiting your employees, betraying trust, and hyping yourself up to the public. Later perfected by Steve Jobs, of course.
JC Bose got the American patent in 1904 as well.
Back in the 90’s, I corresponded with D.T. Emerson, who wrote this paper about Bose:
Emerson was actually able to see and even touch some of Bose’s artifacts.
At the time, I was trying to do a metal-oxide detector at 145 GHz similar to what Bose did at 60 GHz, and Emerson had also done some work near 145 GHz, on the ALMA radiotelescope.
cool story.. somehow i had no knowledge of bose and his contributions to radio art.
my favorite similar story is farnsworth vs RCA.
me too. I’m a bit of a radio junkie, but didn’t know of Prof Bose. Some reading to do,
Funny how the history of technology is full of idealistic geniuses being ripped off by butthole businessmen, who make big piles of money off their work while claiming it as their own.
In another story, Edison’s badmouthing AC current, “Westinghoused”, and all that. What a dick that guy was! I wonder if American schools are trying to implicity promote his values, which are very much in common with what goes on nowadays.
Actually I worry about the younger generation, they’ve lived in a world where nobody’s ever trusted a politician, or expected them to tell the truth. Where businesses routinely fuck people over for profit, where everyone lies, where “celebrity…” etc etc. I was born in the late 1970s, I saw these developments as they grew to be accepted as the norm. Not that corruption was invented in the 1980s, but the postmodern way we live now is very different to then. And there’s a generation of young adults who don’t know any different.
And that’s probably not good.
Yes Greenaum. Some Yanks promote Edison to the level of exemplar. Our adverts (commercials) tend to use him invariably. It’s so repugnant when they say “Like how Edison invented the light bulb…” BUT HE DIDN’T! He stole the IP from his employee. Westinghouse was pure evil. He had to go to Tesla hat in hand and Tesla STUPIDLY gave him the keys to the castle. Westinghouse today is a huge multi-national conglomerate and has more money than God!
Our public school textbooks have not been modified with the truth about these so-called American heroes yet. They still have the “many” lies about Columbus in them (i.e. not really Italian, never discovered America, etc.).
Lately here in USA, ever since off-shore outsourcing to India became vogue, Indian-Americans seem to be lobbying for re-inventing India’s role in world history. I wonder how much of that is due to Gov of Louisiana’s and ex-POTUS 2016 candidate’s (an Indian) tinkering.
This isn’t so much about “lobbying for re-inventing India’s role in world history” as it is simply documenting an accurate historical record. There is no “re-invention” going on here – merely a request to scientists across the world to correctly attribute their sources to ancient Indian scientists if in fact these are historically accurate. Indic scientists involved in this work expect these revised documents to be peer-reviewed and cross-referenced to ensure historical accuracy, as you would expect from current research efforts anywhere in the world.
60 GHz signals in 1895?!? Wow! To this day that’s many times the frequency of most radio signals. I’m going to have to look further into J.C. Bose and his story. Might make for an excellent subject to write about in my monthly column.
Where is your monthly column?
It’s nothing big, I just write an article every month for my local ham radio club’s newsletter.
My parents had one of his “Wave Radios”. Heard about it on the radio I think.
Dr. Amar G. Bose who designed audio systems was born in 1929 and died in 2013. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, which this article is about was born in 1858 and died in 1937. These are two different people
And S.N. Bose, of Bose-Einstein statistics fame and after whom the boson was named, was yet another famous and productive Bose. He actually was a student of J.C. Bose at Presidency College.
For the record, Tesla first demonstrated radio before the royal society in 1893. Range was only across a stage, but the demonstration did take place and is a matter of record. Not to detract from Bose, but to clarify an already muddled history that has a vast majority of people beliving that Marconi alone invented radio. Tesla gets little enough credit as it is for someone who contributed so much to the world.
Yes. To be totally honest to everyone, radio was a product of series of discoveries, from Maxwell and Hertz onwards. Tesla and Bose did their part, as did many others, including Marconi. Marconi seems to me a very clever tinkerer, who was quite capable of improving apparatus, but unable to come to real breakthroughs by himself. He would try anything and everything, and eventually made good progress and contribution to overall radio advance.
“Marconi seems to me a very clever tinkerer, who was quite capable of improving apparatus, but unable to come to real breakthroughs by himself”
You mean he was a hacker?
Yes, no doubt.
There is a series of articles in the IEEE Transactions, 1998 to prove that Marconi was present in the 1996 demonstration of JC Bose in the Royal Institute, London and all the notes of Bose disappeared. Marconi employed Prof. Flemming of London University to copy the instrument of Bose and used it in his famous experient. Thus, Marconi did nothing at all. Prof. Flemming should get the credit for enhancing the instrument used by Bose.
@Doc Pederson – Dr. Mahlon Loomis demonstrated to US Congress and won a cash award for his wireless device long before any of them. His allegation is that he was able to achieve in 1865 a radiotelegraph over the Blue Ridge mountains (USA) a distance of 14-miles (~22 Km) – actually 18-miles. Then was implemented in Wash DC in a 7-mile network around town in the 1870’s and a 2-mile maritime link between two ships at Chesapeake Bay. Tesla was just a teenager kid then. Marconi was just being born, and JC Bose was just going into college about 20-years away from his new-found interest in this new technology.
Dr. Loomis was not inspired by the Scottish scientist Dr. James Clerk Maxwell.as in 1864 Loomis claims he started thinking about this and Maxwell was too. He claims he was inspired by Ben Franklin and Samuel Morse. Here is a good link at Google Books: Wireless Personal Communications: Trends and Challenges
edited by Theodore S. Rappaport,
Tesla did not demonstrate radio in 1893 , He just presented Theories which extensions of earlier existed theories . There is no record of any such practical demonstration . Tesla had lot of crazy theories . Tesla did first demonstration of Radio in 1998..almost 3-4 years after Bose.
Tesla & Marconi both copied Bose’s work ..weird thing is people pretend like Marconi stole radio from tesla ..He did not , they both copied from Bose but posed as inventors . While Brown man who invented it in far away east was happy that White man is letting him do the work he likes .
Remember we talking about Times where Bose/colored person was constitutionally subhuman in West. Anything colored person invented was up for grab & stealing in west unless he is very proactive & has powerful white friends .
I remember we had lesson in our school about Jagadish Bose experiments with plants, to show that they too have senses like us. Although I was not aware about his works in radio, thanks from this nice & informative article.
At the dawn of the 20th century there were many pioneers in science, many of them forgotten now. I didn’t knew the work or Mr Bose. Thanks for the article.
As for demonstrating electricity and light interation, Father Landell de Moura  did it in 1899 but demonstrating a voice transmission over 7Km (~4.3mi) using a beam of light as the wave carrier. The device was named “Telephoro”. He also did other inventions like a wireless telegraph and patented its inventions in 1901-1904 .
@danjovic – What’s even more amazing is how Landell did it 10-years after Alexander Graham Bell did in USA with his Photo Phone later to be renamed Radio Phone. Probably the reason why Brazil decided to not fund his “invention” after they made the mistake to patent it in 1901 and then USA patented it in 1904. Strange none of the patents have prior-art citations to Bell (et al). It’s amazing how some people can “pull strings” with friends in high-places…
Ops, broken link. Try this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/07/Landell_de_Moura_-_New_York_Herald_2.jpg/800px-Landell_de_Moura_-_New_York_Herald_2.jpg
I tried this back in the 70’s from a Scientific American Amateur scientist article, with varying levels of success, I can’t find a link and have “lost” all my old copies of SA, but here are a few links I found…
this one was kinda cool, but harder to do
basically you heated up glass microscope slides on a lab hot plate and sprayed solutions of metallic salts on them.
I got maybe 1 in 10 to work…
I wonder if using a 3D printer or inkjet style print head to spray the salts on would make it more reliable (tighter controlled pattern and thickness of spray)
maybe, I tried using photoresist to apply etching masks but finding a solvent that wouldn’t attack the mask was really hard.
I stopped experimenting after a few dozen failed attempts, drawing up masks by hand, having a bromide film shot at the local printers all started getting a bit expensive.
Bose also researched about the life attributes of plant. He was also an archeologist and botanist and was awarded the Sir title by the crown http://www.edsanders.com/bose/
@la6470 – And he was a decent sci-fi writer too. Check out “The Story of the Missing One” and “Runaway Cyclone”.
And here I thought BOSE was an acronym. Great stuff, Dan.
“The device was called a coherer because of the clumping action and was used as rectifiers in all the early practical wireless receivers”
“He was able to demonstrate that point contacts on galena crystals worked as a better coherer”
The coherer was used as a detector, not as a rectifier. Coherers are not rectifiers and rectifiers are not coherers, but the article muddles them up. A rectifier is necessary to demodulate a radio wave [i.e. to extract audio]. Early radio receivers could only detect the presence of radio waves, so they could only receive CW, not demodulate audio.
Yep, that was sloppy of me. Fixed the post.Thanks for catching that.
Bose certainly made his contribution, but apparently Alexander Graham Bell was the first when it comes to wireless transmission of information Using light for telephony no less, too bad fiber optic cable/wire didn’t exist at the time. Bose may have found using the shorter wave lengths made sense in regards to doing research, but the shorter wavelengths couldn’t lead to the practicle use of wireless at that time, anymore than Bell’s use of light could. No matter how he got there Marconi shown the practicle promise of wireless. Was only in the past year or two when looking for something else radio related I stumbled onto a peeing between Marconi supporter and Tesla Fan boys & girls contest where I first learned of Bose. Fortunately this article and comments to it contained far more information than that silly peeing contest
@Doug – Actually Alexander Graham Bell and crew where quite aware of the existence of stretched glass fibers in their timeline but had no idea how to exploit them for the Photophone.I would think it wouldn’t work anyway without some sort of reflective coating along the entire length of the cables. It had to wait until 1965 in where Manfred Börner at AEG-Telefunken found a way to use fiber optics for VLC (Visual Light Communications).
Bell and team also invented the first audio CD-like glass discs using photographic emulsions and a VLC modulator. However, they couldn’t figure out how to read it. The Smithsonian did recently and you can actually hear tBell and team hem making testing phrases into the microphone. You can listen to them here: http://newsdesk.si.edu/factsheets/early-sound-recording-collection-and-sound-recovery-project (Look for YouTube links halfway down)..
It’s a good article, but there’s a couple of rather confused points:
Bose did use microwave signals for his experiments, but in this he followed on from Hertz who also used VHF/UHF signals in order to explore reflections, diffraction, focusing, etc.
Marconi also started with microwaves but quickly changed to lower frequencies in order to achieve much greater range.
However it’s a big pity that you didn’t mention David Edward Hughes who developed a complete working radio system (complete with a Carbon Detector) decades before the others. Unfortunately, because he preceded Maxwell and Hertz, his discoveries were not understood until much later.
see David Edward Hughes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Edward_Hughes
@F. Nurk – Yes indeed Dan Maloney published a very good article. However, JAGADIS CHANDRA BOSE (or JCB) was actually inspired by a book about Heinrich Hertz written by Oliver Lodge. JCB did some amazing things in a 24 sq ft toilet-room closet at the university that hated him and tried to thwart him at every step of the way. He refused his insulting salary that was far less than his Caucasian peers. Yet somehow he accomplished things that were allegedly 60-years before his time just like Nikola Tesla!
Regarding your comment about Marconi and microwaves: He did not exploit anything with microwaves until 1932. This was after he met JCB in UK at a symposium in 1896 and JCB told him of his 60-GHz experiment. JCB being a free-giver like Tesla was, he just gave away his IP (Intellectual Property) and Marconi took it happily without credit to JCB.Tesla also gave his IP away free to George Westinghouse and look where the Westinghouse company is today.
I don’t remember reading anything about David Edward Hughes inventing a COMPLETE working radio (wireless) system. What he did stumble upon was simply electromagnetic induction just as he was told by his contemporaries. It only reached 150 feet so that could not be compared with a wireless system like the one Dr. Mahlon Loomis (a dentist) also stumbled on in 1865. Loomis radiotelegraph system was able to propagate 14-miles between mountains in Virginia USA (via kites). And was later adopted by the USG (US government) in Washington DC to make up a 7-mile radiotelegraph network around Wash DC (via fixed towers). That was post-Civil War which was before David Edward Hughes even stumbled on his faulty microphone experiment in 1879. This was long before Marconi, JCB, and Tesla’s wireless exploits.
However, JCB’s personal associations disturb me. He was very close to the Gurudev, Rabindranath Tagore and the Swami, Vivekananda. As some of you know Telsa, Edison, and Rockefeller where all influenced by Vivekananda. Tesla’s inventions may even have been inspired by Vivekananda’s lofty eschatological pontifications. I still am quite amazed of the gadgets he built in his toilet closet and was beyond the understanding of most scientists of the day. How does one verify a frequency of 60 GHz’s in 1890’s? And how does one make a better coherer (that actually works) but one really had much experience with the bad ones yet? Read this paper about JCB and tell me your not baffled by this too: https://www.cv.nrao.edu/~demerson/bose/bose.html
And these people at NRAO in Arizona and they are using a variation of JCB’s invention in their telescope at National Radio Astronomy Observatory TODAY!
CORRECTIONS: “And how does one make a better coherer that actually works, but no one really had much experience with the bad ones yet? Read this paper about JCB and tell me your not amazed by this too. Go to https://www.cv.nrao.edu/~demerson/bose/bose.html
And these people at NRAO in Arizona USA … are using a variation of one of JCB’s inventions in their radio telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory… TODAY! “
Are you not confusing J.C. Bose with S.C. Bose?
No. Satyendra Nath Bose (S.N. Bose) was the fellow from the Bose-Einstein condensate fame and a student of J.C. Bose. Subhas Chandra Bose (S.C. Bose) was a fellow who chose the wrong side during WW2 in an attempt to rid India of British rule.
Why did you bring that up? Because of my comment that JCB, Tesla, Edison, Rockefeller, and Westinghouse all had a very curious and weird attachment to Swami Vivekananda during the same timeframe? And NO I am not professing that Vivekananda gave them any direct inspiration for their respective inventions. I just find this unlikely coincidence very strange. And JCB and SNB both befriended the poet Rabindranath Tagore after he turned to the occult practices after his wife’s death. Any of this probably means absolutely nothing to an atheist or agnostic though.
Sorry, but there’s some appalling nonsense here…
> Regarding your comment about Marconi and microwaves: He did not exploit anything with microwaves until 1932.
Marconi’s very first experiments evolved from Hertz and used a spark with a “Hertzian Dipole” of two copper plates a few feet apart. It is fundamental that its output would have been on VHF/UHF frequencies. Later he developed the “Marconi Antenna” and moved to very low frequencies (VLF).
> I don’t remember reading anything about David Edward Hughes inventing a COMPLETE working radio (wireless) system.
His notes and models have been preserved in the British museum, and the recent book “Before We Went Wireless”, documents in great detail how he developed a working Wireless-Telegraphy Transmitter and Receiver.
> What he did stumble upon was simply electromagnetic induction just as he was told by his contemporaries.
It became clear to his contemporaries that they were wrong when Maxwell and Hertz published, and the world became aware of Electromagnetism. Today it is clear that what Hughes achieved would have been impossible with Induction. Marconi himself acknowledged Prof Hughes’ work in his speech to the IEE
His work followed on from Hertz who showed how to develop microwave energies with a spark and to measure their wavelength with a Resonant Cavity.
> How does one verify a frequency of 60 GHz’s in 1890’s?
You use a Resonant Cavity or a Lecher line, as had been demonstrated by Lecher, Hertz, Lodge and others.
> And how does one make a better coherer?
You start with a poor one and gradually increase the distance as you experiment with different materials and layout.
As did Hughes, Marconi, Lodge, Popov and so many others.
His kite experiments clearly made use of Electrostatic energy, and his later experiments were using Ground Conduction and also Induction. He work is fascinating, but he did not develop a communication system using Electromagnetics.
All of these people were brilliant pioneers. They deserve more respect than your unscientific nonsense.
@F, Nurk – I have no idea why you are being so defensive and egotistical in your reply. I simply researched your claims and discovered that you may have embellished or at least exaggerated a bit on some things. I was clearly talking about who was first in WIRELESS 2-way communications and that was clearly Dr. Loomis in 1864 during the same time Maxwell was doing his work. It is not pertinent to our civil conversation here HOW they did it or by what method they did so. I don’t deny Loomis’ invention is low-technology compared to others that followed him.
I also found that your claim that Hughes invented a so-called radio or wireless set but only had a paltry range of 150 feet. And that was caused by a defected carbon microphone he invented that was arcing. I don’t deny that Hughes invented something noteworthy to science, I just have difficulty calling it a wireless set when Mahlon made one with approximately 20 mile range in 1864 and had a 2-character per second rate.
Re: Measuring frequency… I agree with you that Dr. Lecher did it but he did it about 10 years after JCB did his 60-GHz experiment. Albeit, Lodge (JCB’s hero) did have a primitive method JCB obviously used to calculate 60-GHz. But I still find that measurement fantastic for the timeline he was in. I wonder if it was accurate at all. I still am not sure how his enigmatic transmitter was constructed after all of the documentation has been provided. That’s still not clear to me yet. I believe it worked, I just don’t know how yet.
Re: The COHERER. They were in fact quite primitive in his timeline and needed a kinetic kick to reset after use. I was just baffled how he acquired the knowledge so quickly (arguably no time for natural evolution of scientific thought) and invented the first semiconductor (Galena) in 19th century to replace the primitive coherer. I mean that’s like jumping from an ALTAIR 8080 to a iPAD in comparison. And he did this with NO HELP from contemporary peers or colleagues in a 24 Square foot closet. Again I believe he did it. I just need to know the evolution of his thought processes, I have the same questions for Tesla’s enigmatic quantum jumps in science. IMHO I know how Edison did it – he just stole others IP.
So in summary we are not in competition with you. We here at HaD are just exploring how things work and how pioneer hackers of yesteryear arrived at their respective hacks.So it would be nice if you could just make a minor correction to your tone and just have a friendly discussion and if we differ we can just have a friendly intellectual debate. It’s much more fun that way. :-)
Oops! I meant ALTAIR 8800 not 8080…
@F, Nurk – Even though I may show a lack of respect for Marconi and Edison, I try to show it for others (Tesla the jury’s still out with me on that). Why do I feel this way? Well Edison is self-explanatory with his animal experimentation (e.g. several dogs and an elephant). All to prove a lie. Also he was a plagiarizer. Marconi was questionable to me. I think it is obvious that he plagiarized JC Bose’s work on microwaves when Marconi was in his 20’s and continued to work on the concept up until his death in 1937 with no credit EVER given to JCB. He was clearly a commercialistic materialistic human who was only in it for the money and fame. JCB was only in it for the acquired knowledge and was willing to share. That concept has NEVER worked in USA. Yes 1900’s was a cut-throat time here in USA. How has that changed?
BTW – you did know Marconi was an adherent to Mussolini’s fascist ideals? This was evidenced by his recently alleged racist college entry policies to Academy of Italy starting in 1930 when he was appointed the head of the school. This arguably prevented other potential great minds from evolving i that area of the world.
WIRELESS two way communications includes talking, megaphones, alphorns, the heliograph, semaphore, naval flags etc etc. You really have to get much more focused if you want to distinguish between different radio experiments, and then they each start looking a bit different.
That may be true if you look at the literal definition of the phrase “wire less”. However, “WIRELESS” was coined as a term-of-art for a very specific technology and still remains today.
> I simply researched your claims and discovered that you may have embellished or at least exaggerated a bit on some things.
And you call my post offensive? Some quick notes:
His carbon microphone was not defective and it was not arcing.
He noticed an unexpected effect and went on to develop various highly sensitive Detectors.
It is documented that he achieved 500 yds range.
When it suits you, you insist that that Loomis used “Wireless”, but then you discount Hughes by (falsely) claiming his method was “only Induction”.
When your errors are pointed out, you just duck and weave. I showed you how Bose measured his wavelength, and that the method came from Hertz and Lodge, and yet you bluster and try to discount Lecher.
I could go on, but clearly you can’t be bothered reading the references, and prefer to just make stuff up.
Your weird metaphysical and political side issues say more about you than I can.
In 1879 while working in London Hughes discovered that a bad contact in a Bell telephone he was using in his experiments seemed to be sparking when he worked on a nearby induction balance. He developed an improved detector to pick up this unknown “extra current” based on his new microphone design and developed a way to interrupt his induction balance via a clockwork mechanism to produce a series of sparks. By trial and error experiments he eventually found he could pick up these “aerial waves” as he carried his telephone device down the street out to a range of 500 yards (460 m).”
I see where I may have arrived at my assumptions. Look to the BOLDED text above. I may have assumed “bad contact” meant defective and “sparking” implied arcing. The “induction” assumption is based on what he was working on in the first place and “sparking” would introduce induction or electrostatic noise in a receiving device. I may be wrong. His friends told him it was induction. that wasn’t my idea. I was just repeating what they told him. Albeit, it was probably electrostatic.
Yes I concede that I dropped a zero on the range. It wasn’t 150 feet but 1500 feet. Still does not sound like radio propagation to me.
I was not trying to be offensive. I was just sharing information. Loomis is not my hero as he used poor judgement in dealing with USG (US Government) and others (Just like Tesla did). He should have gotten a lawyer or at least a lobbyist in his pocket. He allowed the sleazy Congressmen to really screw up his deal. Albeit, he lost a lot of documents in the Chicago fire, he could at least have duplicated it and distributed it at other locations – like NY where he was from. During those post civil war days things were getting harder to deal with as there were so many con-artists everywhere looking to scam anyone. Even Samuel Clemons got severely conned.
I am not trying to discount Hughes. He made a great contribution to Bell’s telephone I think. And he did other great things. I just am not convinced he was involved in radio per se. I really don’t believe spark-gappers were radio either even though they did propagate several thousands of miles distance.
I did not discount Lecher. I was only pointing out his invention wasn’t made public until around 1902 or so. He had worked on it since 1888 but I believe it was under wraps, in German, or not finished yet until after JC Bose made his gadget around 1890-94. I did say JCB probably used Lodge’s primitive bandwidth measuring method. Did you miss that?
“Your weird metaphysical and political side issues say more about you than I can.”
Wow! You do know me well! Yes I’m a bit eccentric I know. I tend to think outside the box as I get bored to easy the other way… :-D
Darn it! I did not mean for the entire post to be italicized. Must have missed a closing tag…
The piece you quote is so badly written it is childish, but once again you quote a poorly written source without reference to the original.
Hughes first noticed the effect in an earpiece while working on his Induction Balance.
The “poorly formed” contact was in fact the normal function of a Carbon Microphone,
He then went on to develop a series of increasingly sensitive Detectors and efficient Transmitters.
This series of prototypes have survived and are quite separate from his work on the induction balance.
Some of his later Transmitters were fitted with a mechanical Interrupter so he could go walking with his receiver through the Village.
> His friends told him it was induction. that wasn’t my idea. I was just repeating what they told him.
> Albeit, it was probably electrostatic.
Clearly it was neither. Both Magnetic and Electrostatic fields weaken with the inverse-cube of distance, which is why they are still not used today. To reach 500yds (and with low power) it could only be Electromagnetism, eg Radio..
> I did say JCB probably used Lodge’s primitive bandwidth measuring method.
It was a Wavelength measuring method, not Bandwidth.
But finally, your comment that “I really don’t believe spark-gappers were radio” is just breathtaking!
Are you so ill-informed that you don’t understand how a rapidly changing current generates Radio Frequencies?
That when the RF from a spark (or from a modern transmitter) is connected to an Antenna it produces Radio Waves?
All of this can be easily researched, so once again you are just making stuff up as you go along.
Regarding your Metaphysical comments. You gave the strong impression that Bose and others picked up their ideas via some Metaphysical linkage with Vivekananda. Why else include such an of-topic subject in an article about the invention of Radio?
It was from Wikipedia… Also I meant WAVELENGTH but my brain typed BANDWIDTH. Hazard of old age I guess. But any way I concede that I am out of my depth on the subject matter. I have a bit to learn about spark-gap transmitters, etc. I really want to figure out how that 60-GHz transmitter works by JC Bose.
> I really want to figure out how that 60-GHz transmitter works by JC Bose
Here’s a simplified explanation: You put a spark inside a tin can. The spark generates wideband RF noise, which is filtered by the tin can. If the can is resonant at 60GHz, there is your 60GHZ transmitter. The principle was described in detail by Hertz and others.
These days people build “Pringle Can antennas”. The principle is the same.
OK I’ve done the tin can thing with 2.4 GHz but only as a RF waveguide. Thanks for the explanation. I learned something new there. That explanation fills in some blanks in my understanding of the JC Bose gadget. May also be a hazard of autodidact-ism too. :-)
Nothing to do with Bose Corporation (founder: Amar Bose) I found.
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