December 1929 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
ran a monthly series of short articles paying tribute to some of the shakers and movers
in the field of science - this time it was
Sir Oliver Lodge.
"While Hertz was discovering radio waves in air, Lodge was determining the laws
of the corresponding activity which takes place in electrical conductors. It was
Lodge who demonstrated the possibility of radio communication, experimentally, as
Marconi did its commercial value - just as Henry created the telegraph and Morse
made it of practical utility."
See other "Men Who Made Radio" :
Sir Oliver Lodge,
Reginald A. Fessenden,
C. Francis Jenkins,
Count Georg von Arco,
E. F. W. Alexanderson,
Men Who Made Radio - Sir Oliver Lodge
The Third of a Series
While the inventor is nowadays the most
spectacular figure in the development of a great new art, such as radio, there is
always in the background, behind the inventor, the man of "pure" science. The mathematician
and the researcher into the by-ways of Nature prepare the way; often many years
before any practical benefit is extracted from their work by the inventor who turns
it into a new, everyday necessity of life. In no branch of human endeavor has this
been so apparent as in the application of electricity. The scientists made thousands,
and millions, of painstaking observations; the mathematicians made millions of most
complicated calculations, all in the hope that, some day, mankind could profit by
their labors. "What use is electricity?" demanded a practical man of Franklin, a
century and a half ago. "What use is a baby?" returned old Ben.
Among the greatest of the scientists whose life work has been to contribute to
the creation of radio as a separate, and most important, branch of electricity,
is the man whose thoughtful face appears upon the cover of this issue of Radio-Craft.
He it was who brought the prophetic calculations of Maxwell and the laboratory work
of Hertz to his own generation; and he has lived to see radio, which he adopted
when it was - so to speak - an orphan child, become an honored member of every home.
More than that, it is the annihilator of space and the unifier of nations.
Oliver Lodge is in his seventy-ninth year; for over half a century he has been
a prominent figure in the scientific world. Among the countless lines of investigation
he has followed in that time, that of the oscillations of electricity in a conductor
is the most important with respect to our subject. While Hertz was discovering
radio waves in air, Lodge was determining the laws of the corresponding activity
which takes place in electrical conductors. It was Lodge who demonstrated the possibility
of radio communication, experimentally, as Marconi did its commercial value - just
as Henry created the telegraph and Morse made it of practical utility.
The discoveries of Lodge in the matter of the properties of an electric current
in a liquid, and the phenomena of "ionization," have contributed in no small degree
to the building up of highly-complicated modern electric theory; with its marvelous
implications as to the theory of the universe. Similarly, the researches of Lodge
into the actions of light - which is, after all, merely radio of invisibly-short
wavelengths - are valued steps in the history of modern science. The genius of Lodge
anticipated by many years the commonplaces of popular electricity today; the moving-coil
or dynamic speaker, for instance, having been described by him more than thirty
As one of the most distinguished scientists of the present day, his fame and
honors are international. A great teacher as well as a great investigator, he is
a man whose wide sympathies and zeal for the spread of science have left their mark
upon every field of his activity. The Grand Old Man of Radio is still vigorous;
although for some years other fields of inquiry have made his name most familiar
to the public at large, it is undoubtedly upon his pioneer work in the fields of
electrical oscillation and radiation that his greatest permanent fame will rest.
Posted August 19, 2019
(updated from original post on 9/14/2015)