Many inventions have changed America but perhaps none more than the radio. Most of us take the radio for granted, not taking a second thought when we turn on the radio in our car or in our house. However in the late 1800’s wireless communication seemed like a thing from outer space and the only way to communicate with someone over long distances was if there was a telegraph wire going to them. Some scientists thought there must be a way to communicate without wires, and this idea eventually produced the discovery of radio waves and the invention of the radio. The radio was used to great effect by the government who immediately saw the potential in communicating wirelessly. It wasn’t long before the radio got into almost every American home where it changed how people relaxed, got information, and listened to music. The radio was a major tool during the Second World War and during the great depression. Without the radio our world would be much different, we wouldn’t have microwaves, cordless phones, remote controlled toys, television broadcasts and many other things we take for granted.
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The true inventor of the radio has been greatly disputed mainly between Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi who have some of the earliest patents for the radio and did some of the first public displays of radio waves. At the time radio communication was called wireless telegraphy and many scientists around the world including but not limited to Julio Cervera Baviera, Alexander Popov, and Ernest Rutherford were working on it (United States early Radio history). In the end radio technology was a product of several different discoveries done by several great scientists. The base of the invention of the radio is the discovery of radio waves
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which are just electromagnetic waves that can transmit sound, pictures and other things Invisibly (The Invention of Radio). Marconi was the first to send radio signals in 1896 and build a working radio. He only sent the encoded signal about one mile but none the less he was the first (history of the radio). Tesla who is also credited with the radio was the first person to draw up a model of a radio however he never actually made a working radio. Marconi further advanced his radio and was able to send a message over long distances (the invention of the radio). Some people think that Nathan B. Stubblefeild a farmer from Kentucky made a radio capable of sending sound four years before Marconi transmitted radio signals. They say that he didn’t want to demonstrate his invention to the public out of fear that it might be stolen and when he was found dead in 1929 his radio equipment was missing (The History of Radio).
The radio was first thought to be used mainly for land to ship and ship to ship communication which is more like walkie talkies than radio stations. It was used by the coast guard who before radio had been using light signals and homing pigeons for communication. In 1901 radios were set up on five of the Hawaiian Islands and in 1909 Robert E. Peary an arctic explorer radio telegraphed; “I found the pole” (the invention of radio). The NAVY quickly saw the potential of the radio and put on all of their ship and along the coast line. At this time most radios just sent code or data rather than the sound of pictures we’re used to today (the golden age of radio). Very few citizens had a radio at this time but this changed dramatically very quickly.
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At this time in American history if someone wanted to get some entertainment they had to go out on the town and see a play and if they wanted to hear about what was happening in Washington they had to read a newspaper which wasn’t always available. Once the radio found its way into almost every persons home by the 1920’s it was an instant hit and everyone was fighting to get on the air and get heard (American radio history). People no longer had to leave their house to be entertained and they could hear about the weather or news from the comfort of their own home. The dust bowl was happening during this radio craze and many families would choose to keep their radio before many other things because it was something that they could sit down around as a family and listen for information about what was happening outside of their world (USA early radio history). They felt that the radio was one way they could have a connection to a world much different or better than theirs (History of the radio). Receiving information wasn’t the only thing the radio is good for. There was an explosion of radio drama stations which are much like the modern day soap operas you see on TV. Radio drama was born in 1927 when many radio stations began reading short stories and even writing original scripts for broadcast (A brief history of radio in America). During many radio broadcasts they would play music and in-between the songs they would have people keep up a patter to distract the listener but people started to like these short talking periods. After a while there were just shows where people would act out a script for a story that would progress as the show went on. These radio dramas peeked in the 1940’s and have been a dead form entertainment ever since. One thing the radio did for the United States in the early 1900’s is it connected the people and the government in a way never before thought of. Most people will read about
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Roosevelt’s fire side chats however there are still some who still remember listening to them. Roosevelt began using the radio to broadcast his himself across the county which let people listen to the actual voice of the president. This doesn’t seem like a big deal today since our President is on the news quite often but in the early nineties people only saw pictures and couldn’t put a voice to it (How did the radio change America). The radio was a powerful thing, it helped Churchill lead his country through WWII and Hitler would arrest people who listened or promoted radio stations that said things he didn’t like (History of the radio). Putting something on the radio wasn’t like saying something on television. When ones voice is the only thing the person on the other side gets one must to make every word count. Roosevelt and countless other radio stars couldn’t rely on fancy video editing or their looks and body language for catching the interests of their audiences. This form of entertainment really brought out the best actors and speakers because of the simplicity of it.
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The radio may well be one of the biggest turning points in America. This is surprising since many of us think of something like the Hadron Collider when scientific turning point is mentioned. However the radio led the way to countless other discoveries and inventions. The radio doesn’t have a singular inventor mainly because of the amount of technology that goes into the radio. The first use of the radio was for simple data for naval usage. The radio it’s self and the ways it was used expanded from the seas to the house hold and every US NAVY boat. Radio not only changed the speed at which we communicate it changed the way people received news, got entertained, and opened jobs for thousands of people in the radio business.
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One of the biggest changes the radio had on the world and on the US was the way it changed the way nation leaders communicated with their citizens and how they led them through hard times. Over all the radio has changed the world and the united states in countless ways for ever.
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