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The Radio Corporation of America

Ancestors, Part I: Guglielmo Marconi and Wireless Telegraphy

Ancestors, Part II: The Victor Talking Machine Company


RCA Timeline

Ancestors, Part I: Guglielmo Marconi and Wireless Telegraphy, 1897-1919

July 2, 1897: Guglielmo Marconi forms Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in England, the first wireless electronic communications company.

November 22, 1899: Marconi incorporates Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America.

December 12, 1901: Marconi and assistants accomplish trans-Atlantic wireless communication between radio stations in Poldhu, Cornwall, England, and Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

September 30, 1906: David Sarnoff joins American Marconi as an office boy.

November 1906: Marconi Company in Canada begins using Fleming valve (tube) diodes for auxilliary purposes at Glace Bay and Cape Race stations.

April 14, 1912: S. S. Titanic hits iceberg and sinks overnight; use of wireless helps rescue over 700 people, while lack of on-duty operators on nearby ships results in over 1500 deaths.

June 29, 1912: American Marconi acquires the United Wireless Telegraph Company, increasing coastal radio stations from five to over sixty, and ship installations from five to 400. The company now had a virtual monopoly on wireless communications in the United States.

July 23, 1912: President William Howard Taft signs bill requiring ships carrying 50 or more persons to carry at least two radio operators, with one on duty at all times.

Summer 1912: American Marconi begins building 10,000 square-foot factory in Aldene, New Jersey, near the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s roadbed.

October 1, 1913: American Marconi hires Edward J. Nally, formerly a general manager of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company, as vice president and GM to organize its assets.

May 12, 1914: Nally writes U. S. Navy about Marconi Company’s new wireless telephone technology.

August 4, 1914: Great Britain declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, joining in the start of World War I, or The Great War. Radio traffic across the Atlantic Ocean swells as the Germans cut Allied cable telegraphs and governments and businesses have even more to discuss.

June 4, 1915: Nally proposes to General Electric Company that GE and American Marconi organize a joint monopoly for the production and operation of wireless communications technology (GE’s scientists and engineers have developed powerful means of transmitting Morse code and voice by both electromechanical and electron-tube means).

April 8, 1919: Captain Stanford C. Hooper and Admiral W. H. G. Bullard, U. S. Navy, meet with General Electric Company executives to ask that they not sell their Alexanderson alternators to the Marconi companies. This marks the beginning of negotiations by which GE would buy American Marconi and organize what would become the Radio Corporation of America.

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