Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dot-dash-diss: The gentleman hacker's 1903 lulz

It had all started in 1887 when Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves predicted by James Clerk Maxwell in 1865. Discharging a capacitor into two separated electrodes, Hertz ionised the air in the gap between them, creating a spark. Miraculously, another spark zipped between two electrodes a few metres away: an electromagnetic wave from the first spark had induced a current between the second electrode pair. It meant long and short bursts of energy - "Hertzian waves" - could be broadcast to represent the dots and dashes of Morse code. Wireless telegraphy was born, and Marconi and his company were at the vanguard.
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