Wireless communications

Wireless communications

1891

Responsible for eventually giving us the television, mobile phone, radio, radar, satellite navigation and even wireless internet access, Nikola Tesla’s work in 1891 creating a wireless communications network was surely one of the most inventive spells of his career. Since Tesla’s network, wireless communications have gone from strength to strength, as the following devices show…

Radio

Radio

Sir Oliver Lodge sent the first transmission signal in 1894 — a year before Marconi, who was later awarded the wireless telegraph patent.

Television

vintage television

Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrates the world’s first moving image on his ‘televisor’ device — a mechanical precursor to the TV.

Mobile phone

Mobile phone

The first handheld mobile phone is demonstrated by two employees at Motorola. It weighs in at a rather hefty one kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi

While wireless internet existed in academic facilities, it wasn’t until 1997 that standards were laid down for its widespread adoption.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper

1884

The invention of steel-girder skyscrapers enabled architects to move away from the constraints of load-bearing walls and towards steel-framed structures that granted more freedom and creativity. The first of these buildings was architect William Le Baron Jenney’s ten-storey Home Insurance Company Building, completed in 1885. As soon as it was built -and proven a success — the technology proliferated rapidly and soon rival architects tried to outdo each other, designing ever taller and more complex buildings.

Car

Car

1882

Taking over from steam-and horse-powered travel at the end of the Industrial Revolution, where would we be today without the car? First made in its current form in 1886 by German engineer Karl Benz, there are now more than 1 billion worldwide, and that number is set to keep growing. Newer designs are looking to solve the problem of pollution by using alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen.

Phonograph

Phonograph

1877

The first device to be capable of recording and replaying sound, Thomas Edison’s 1877 phonograph laid down the foundations for today’s music industry, being quickly followed by the gramophone and, later, the turntable. Prior to this no audible moments could ever be captured or replayed. Today, radios and MP3 players allow us to listen to our favourite tunes all day long.

Telephone

Telephone

1876

While not the inventor of the world’s first telephone (largely attributed to Antonio Meucci in 1849), Alexander Graham Bell achieved so much in its overall development — including taking out a patent for his own device in 1876 — that he is generally now credited as its inventor. Indeed, along with his assistant, Thomas Watson, Bell built a phone that enabled him to make the first-ever call, saying, ‘Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you.’ He demonstrated its capabilities to many important societies and people — even to the US president — and eventually set up the Bell Telephone Company to make them on a mass-produced scale. Bell’s work in the field of telephony meant that by 1886 more than 150,000 buildings in the USA had installed a phone.