On 24 December 1906, the
first radio broadcast for entertainment and music was transmitted from Brant Rock, Massachusetts to the general
public. This pioneering broadcast was achieved after years of development work
by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (1866-1932) who built a complete system of
wireless transmission and reception using amplitude modulation (AM) of continuous
electromagnetic waves. This technology was a revolutionary departure from
transmission of dots and dashes widespread at the time.
1906: Rotary-spark transmitter and first two-way transatlantic transmission
Using his rotary-spark transmitters, Fessenden
made the first successful two-way transatlantic transmission, exchanging Morse
code messages between the station at Brant Rock and an identical one built at
Machrihanish in Scotland. (Note that Marconi had only achieved one-way
transmissions at this time.) However, the transmitters could not bridge this
distance during daylight hours or in the summer, so work was suspended until
later in the year. Unfortunately, the Machrihanish radio tower collapsed,
abruptly ending the transatlantic work.
21, 1906: Alternator-transmitter used for wireless telephony
Fessenden gives a major demonstration of his
new high frequency alternator-transmitter at Brant Rock, showing its utility
for point-to-point wireless telephony, by interconnecting his stations (at
Plymouth and Brant Rock) to the Bell telephone network. Prominent experts,
Elihu Thompson and Greenleaf Pickard, together with others, witnessed the
event. Refer to an article entitled “Experiments and Results in Wireless
Telephony” published in The American Telephone Journal. On January 26, 1907.
Three days before Christmas Eve (Helen Fessenden’s book, p. 153)
Reginald Fessenden plans to give two radio
broadcasts, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Station staff notifies the
ships of the US Navy and of the United Fruit Company to listen. These ships had
previously been fitted with radio receivers.
Alternator-transmitter and the first radio
Landmark broadcast of transmission of ordinary speech and music from Brant Rock
to ships sailing along the Atlantic coast. A repeat broadcast performance was
given on New Years Eve. Reception is confirmed by the listeners.
The historical site is located at Blackman’s
Point, Brant Rock, in the County of Plymouth Massachusetts. Blackman’s Point is
a few miles from the center of Marshfield. The Town of Marshfield is
approximately 30 miles south-east of Boston. The remaining concrete
foundation built to support Fessenden’s wireless tower, is in a trailer park
owned by the Blackman family at the south end of the town of Brant Rock, off of