Popov demonstrates radio receiver, May 7, 1895

-May 07, 2017

In Saint Petersburg, Russian physicist Alexander Stepanovich Popov demonstrated the Popov lightning detector, a primitive radio receiver, to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society on May 7, 1895. (See 1989 USSR stamp depicting the demonstration, right)

Popov in the early 1890s began conducting experiments along the lines of Heinrich Hertz's research. In 1894, he built the first radio receiver, which contained a coherer. He further refined the design as a lightning detector.

A paper on his work was published in December 1895, but he did not apply for a patent for his invention.

In March 1896, Popov transmitted radio waves between different campus buildings in St Petersburg. In 1898, Popov realized ship-to-shore communication over a distance of 6 miles and then over 30 miles a year later in 1899.

In 1900 a radio station was established under Popov's instructions on Hogland Island (Suursaari) in the Baltic Sea to provide two-way communication by wireless telegraphy between the Russian naval base and the crew of the battleship General-Admiral Apraksin.

In some parts of the former Soviet Union May 7 is celebrated as Radio Day as Popov has generally been recognized in Eastern Europe as the "inventor of radio," in contrast to the West's recognition of Marconi and Tesla.

Popov's work on the emission and reception of signals by means of electromagnetic oscillations built upon Nikola Tesla's accomplishments demonstrated in 1893.

Guglielmo Marconi received a patent for radio in 1896, but his device is widely thought to be based on various earlier techniques of other researchers, including Tesla, and resembled instruments demonstrated by others, including Popov.

The three inventors are among a small group of scientists and engineers who had a hand in the invention of radio.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog.
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Editor's note: This article was originally posted on May 7, 2013 and edited on May 7, 2017.


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