I grew up with the classic comedy series such as the Goons, Tony Hancock, Round the Horne, The Navy Lark and I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again to name but a few. I have even been known to drop into the BBC iPlayer on occasion just listen to some of the classics.
But be that as it may, the ‘wireless’ has a place in the history of the last century as the gathering and dissemination of news and the coverage of world events became faster and more efficient.
Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information, such as sound, by systematically modulating some property of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space, such as their amplitude, frequency, phase, or pulse width.
When radio waves strike an electrical conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor.
The information in the waves can be extracted and transformed back into its original form.
The use of ‘radio’ as a standalone word dates back to at least December 30, 1904, when instructions issued by the British Post Office for transmitting telegrams specified that “The word ‘Radio’… is sent in the Service Instructions”.
This practice was universally adopted, and the word ‘radio’ introduced internationally, by the 1906 Berlin Radiotelegraphic Convention, which included a Service Regulation specifying that “Radiotelegrams shall show in the preamble that the service is ‘Radio'”
Lee de Forest helped popularize the new word in the United States.
In early 1907 he founded the de Forest Radio Telephone Company, and his letter in the June 22, 1907 Electrical World about the need for legal restrictions warned that “Radio chaos will certainly be the result until such stringent regulation is enforced”.
The United States Navy would also play a role. Although its translation of the 1906 Berlin Convention used the terms ‘wireless telegraph’ and ‘wireless telegram’, by 1912 it began to promote the use of “radio” instead.
British Commonwealth countries continued to commonly use the term ‘wireless’ until the mid-20th century, though the magazine of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the UK has been called Radio Times since its founding in the early 1920s.