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The history and development of

Radio - From 1900 - 1970

By William and Oscar

Different radio technologies


MW: Stands FM: Stands AM: Stands

for Medium for Frequency for
Wave. DAB: Stands for Digital Audio Modulation Amplitude
Broadcasting Modulation
Brief History:

Brief History

1900, Reginald Fessenden made a weak transmission of voice over the airwaves. In
1901, Marconi conducted the first successful transatlantic experimental radio

In the early 1900s there where many attempts of developing radio waves so they
transmitted voice and music but it wasn’t until world war 1 where the development of
radio really accelerated, mainly due to the use for the military communications. After the
war, commercial radio broadcasting began in the 1920s and became an important mass
medium for entertainment and news. Stereo FM broadcasting of radio was taking place
from the 1930s onwards in the United States and displaced AM as the dominant
commercial standard by the 1960s, and by the 1970s in the United Kingdom.
1880 - 1890
1888: Heinrich Hertz detects and produces radio waves.

1894: Marchese Guglielmo Marconi builds his first radio equipment, a device that will ring a bell from 30 ft. away.

1899: Marconi establishes first radio link between England and France.
1900 - 1919

1900: American scientist R.A. Fessenden transmists human speech via radiowaves.

1901: Marconi transmits telegraphic radio messages from Cornwall to Newfoundland

1903: Valdemar Poulsen patents an arc transmission that generates continuous radio waves, producing a frequency of 100 kHz and receivable over
150 miles.

1906: First radio program of voice and music broadcast in the U.K

1907: Fessenden invents a high-frequency electric generator that produces radio waves with a frequency of 100 kHz.

1908: GE develops a 100 kHz, 2 kW alternator for radio communication.

1910: Radio communications gain publicity when the captain of the Montrose alerts Scotland via radio of an escaping criminal.

1913: The cascade-tuning radio receiver and the heterodyne receiver are introduced.

1919: Shortwave radio is developed.


1939: On September 1 Prime

Minister Neville Chamberlain
broadcasts to the nation that
Britain is at war with Germany.
This is followed by a broadcast
from King George VI on
September 3rd, the first evening
of the war (below).

1950: The number of radio licences issued is raised at 11.8


1955: The BBC begins broadcasting in FM (frequency Founders of sony

modulation) for the first time, compared to AM frequency
(This was done because AM can not transmit properly in bad
weather conditions)

1954: The Regency TR-1, the world’s first transistor radio, is

unveiled. The first truly portable radio is a huge success,
changing the way people listen to radio. Other manufacturers
like sony started to also produce them

First portable radio


1964: ‘Pirate radio’ stations Radio

Caroline and Radio Atlanta begin
broadcasting from ships in the
North Sea. The pirate radio
audience is between 10 and 15
million in 1965.

1967: The BBC offer to launch

Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4.

1971: Radio-only licences are

abolished as the television
audience grows.

1973: Commercial radio stations

begin broadcasting for the first
time, starting with LBC, then
Capital Radio.

1980s: “The availability of cheap 50W transmitters means it is a

lot easier for people to create their own radio stations, so there
is a huge increase in pirate radio stations. At one point these
outnumber legal stations.” sourced from

1988: The first Radio Data System (RDS) car radio is installed
in the UK.

1995: The BBC begins the UK’s first digital radio transmissions with Radio 1 to 5 sharing,
Parliament and Sports

1996: Internet radio in the UK, as Virgin Radio becomes Europe’s first radio station to
broadcast online.

1999: Digital One, the UK’s first national commercial digital radio multiplex launches with five
channels including Planet Rock, Talk Radio, Classic FM, Virgin Radio and Core.

The first DAB tuner goes on sale in the UK.


2001: VideoLogic launches the Pure DRX-601EX, the world’s first portable digital radio. It costs £499.

2002: The BBC launches a series of digital-only channels including BBC 1Xtra, 4 Xtra and 6 Music.

2013: The government delays the FM switch-off, because not enough people own DAB radio sets.

2015: Figures from Ofcom show more Brits are using digital platforms (TV, internet, DAB) to listen to the
radio. 39.6% of total radio hours listened to are through digital platforms. Analogue is 54.3%, but declining.

Now, you can find radio

online, demand and
social media such as
facebook. There are also
applications such as BBC
radio which allow for on
demand listening