Derby Wireless Club was formed in 1911 by a group of enthusiastic people with a common desire to understand, exploit and promote the new emerging technology known as Radio. The main objective of the society was to draw together like minded people and create an environment conducive to experimentation, understanding, co-operation, self learning and mutual friendship. Today, 100 years later, the club is still going strong with similar ideals. We now recognise these traits collectively and refer to them as 'Amateur Radio'. Please see the links for detailed History.
Radio History - A Personal View
History is always a personal choice. In the case of early radio, progress was made through contributions from many people over a long period of time. With only a few lines for a brief summary, the question is who do I include and who do I miss out? Inevitably, this has to be a personal choice.
One of my heroes is James Maxwell who in 1865 came up with his famous set of equations that predicted the existence of Electromagnetic waves some 23 years before Hertz demonstrated EM radiation in 1888. Today, these equations pervade many areas of engineering and form the cornerstone for nearly all radio based calculation. The scope of his contribution is truly staggering if not well known.
Hertz was the first person to intentionally transmit and receive radio and so in my opinion was the first radio amateur. At the time he admitted to seeing no practical use for radio and so got it slightly wrong!
From an amateur radio perspective, another key figure is Reginald Fessenden who invented and demonstrated amplitude modulation in 1906 using a rotary ‘Alexanderson’generator. This device transmitted within a specific band allowing him to make the first radio audio broadcast from Brant Rock Massachusetts on Christmas Eve 1906. Apparently he played‘O Holy Night’ on the violin and read a passage from the Bible. These days, our amateur licence precludes these activities except perhaps on 80m.
The next major step was the development of the thermionic valve by Lee De Forest in 1907 who placed a third element called a 'grid' in glass envelope to control conduction. This marked the introduction of the triode. However, it was much later in 1915 before commercially available devices were manufactured. For the radio amateur, availability was probably much later than this.
From the availiblity of the valve, the story is well known - many years of amateur experimentation, development and shed loads of experience. Oh, I forgot the transitor and integrated cicuit - sorry. What does the next 100 years hold? Who knows? Will we annoy the wife and build QRP quantum entangled devices on the kitchen table? Time will tell.