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Guglielmo 马可尼: radio star

30 Nov 2001

A lack of formal education, high-powered family connections and an unstoppable will to succeed helped Guglielmo 马可尼 to transmit the first radio signal across the Atlantic and launch the 无线-communications industry.

母亲的男孩

There cannot be many people who screwed up at school, failed to get into university, and then went on to win a Nobel Prize for Physics. But at least one did, and with good reason: he made radio happen. In a few years of manic activity, Guglielmo 马可尼 managed to transform an obscure piece of maths into a social upheaval that makes the dot.com phenomenon look about as radical as a new bike for your postman.

马可尼’当您考虑到1909年的诺贝尔奖之后–不同于他与之分享的物理学家费迪南德·布劳恩(Ferdinand Braun)– 马可尼 was not, by his own admission, any kind of scientist, or even much of an inventor. He did not really make any fundamental discoveries, and radio was mostly a matter of assembling parts created by other people. But the vision needed to see the possibilities of a new era of communication, and the unstoppable will to pursue it, were all his own. No intellectual, 马可尼 earned his Nobel prize the hard way by dragging a great chunk of physics out of the lab and holding it up for the world to see, approve and, more importantly, buy.

It was all a long time ago. In fact it is 100 years since 马可尼 proved, contrary to informed opinion at the time, that 无线 waves could cross the Atlantic. Since then, radio has undergone a bumpy ride in the fashion stakes. Some 40 years ago, it was seen as ancient history and distinctly uncool, despite the invention of the transistor. Computers were the upcoming thing for ambitious scientists and engineers. Digital chips were hip; coils and capacitors were not.

但是广播从未消失,今天又是时尚而又中心的舞台。它甚至被称为“wireless” by a generation that no longer associates the word with a wooden box that took ages to warm up. Bluetooth 无线 technology may one day allow every conceivable electronic gadget to talk effortlessly to every other, while digital transmission is revolutionizing television and will do the same for sound as soon as someone markets a receiver that does not require a second mortgage.

但是无线电应用’s had more impact than any other is, of course, the mobile phone. And, in a satisfying display of closure, this three-way marriage of radio, computers and the fixed phone network has enabled millions of texting teenagers to put life back into the concept that started it all: 无线 电报.

造浪

那到底是怎么做的“wireless” and “telegraphy” get together? Like a horseless carriage, a 无线 telegraph proposes to do away with the very thing that makes the technology work. Pursuing an idea like this demands the ability to enter a new world, not just optimize an old one. The Moravian-born US economist Joseph Schumpeter reserved the term “entrepreneur” for people with this gift. He saw them as prime movers of economic change, though their motives were not entirely economic. What drives the true 企业家 is their dream of a personal kingdom, the spirit of conquest, the sheer joy of achievement. Guglielmo 马可尼 fits Schumpeter’的模型直到最后一个细节,他就如模型所预测的那样极大地改变了世界经济。

It has to be said that none of this might have happened without 马可尼’可以使用现金和挤满联系人的书。年轻的Guglielmo在传统的尘土飞扬的阁楼上开始了他的世界弯曲实验,尽管他在意大利博洛尼亚附近的一间设备齐全的父母住所中。但是,现金和联系对于将通信技术变成糊涂至关重要,最终将使火车变得如此烦人。

但是首先是物理学。一切始于詹姆斯·克莱克·麦克斯韦(James Clerk Maxwell),他于1864年将一些复杂的数学应用于迈克尔·法拉第(Michael Faraday)的直观思想,并产生了震撼世界的四个方程式。麦克斯韦’s的方程式表明,磁场和电场如何在光速精确地越过舞厅的舞蹈中相互配合,这肯定不是巧合。它看起来很有希望:也许,长久以来一直是个谜,光只是电磁波。但是证据是间接的。

By 1888 Heinrich Hertz had found something more concrete. Using purely electrical methods, he generated waves that behaved exactly like light, though of enormously greater wavelength. Sparks from an induction coil started off the electromagnetic dance, creating trains of waves that, when intercepted by a loop with a gap in it, could produce microscopic sparks of their own. That, and some giant reflectors, prisms and polarizers, was all there was to it. Well, not quite all. When Hertz died at a tragically young age in 1894, young 马可尼 got to hear about the concept.

家庭联系

很难想象赫兹是像詹姆斯·迪恩或切·格瓦拉这样的偶像(尽管他的确像南美革命者一样留着胡须),所以我们不得不去别处解释这位年轻的古格列尔莫’s obsession with Hertzian waves. Since 马可尼’这个星球上最大的两个兴趣是广播和女人,这是他一生中的第一个女人,他的母亲,可能与此有关。

Annie 马可尼 was the daughter of a successful businessman, Andrew Jameson. If the name reminds you of a certain brand of Irish whiskey, that is because he owned the company. Being the daughter of an Irish whiskey baron and giving up a promising career as a singer to marry a well heeled 意大利n landowner gave Annie certain privileges. One of them was being allowed to indulge her littlest boy’每一个心血来潮。因此,男生古列尔莫(Guglielmo)并没有受到压力要求获得良好的成绩,而是被允许跟随他的鼻子。当那鼻子嗅出赫兹海浪时,安妮正跟随他的气味进入一个令人震惊的新世界。

马可尼’s education was patchy, not to say bizarre. Primary school was a disaster, and he was 12 before he got into a secondary school in Florence where, teased about his Bolognese-Irish accent, he did badly. The following year, the family moved to Livorno and a more congenial technical school, but 马可尼 still underperformed. He never qualified for higher education, even with the help of a private physics tutor, Vincenzo Rosa.

马可尼’s sketchy training was completed with the aid of a bit of networking. His mother got to know a professor of physics at Bologna University, Augusto Righi, a specialist in Hertzian waves who agreed to help her boy. Without the right bits of paper, Righi could not get him into the university, but he could get the young 马可尼 into the university library. Righi also gave him some tuition in his own lab. It does not seem to have been a huge success, however. Righi later refused to acknowledge his contribution to 马可尼’s career, and 马可尼 always said that his real teacher was Rosa, the hired help in Livorno.

不懈的完美

By the summer of 1894, at the age of 20, 马可尼 was hard at work in his parents’阁楼。到1895年,他已经将莫尔斯电键,一些电池,一个感应线圈,一个“coherer”(用于检测无线电波的设备),大继电器和–他唯一的个人发明– the all-important aerial and earth. With this unpromising rig he found he could send messages two kilometres, without wires and with a hill in the way. Even 马可尼’他的父亲被说服,尽管他的小儿子可能没有成为乡村地主的资格,但他有一个值得追求的想法。

暗示马可尼只是将所有这些东西放在一起是不公平的。他是小细节的不懈追求者。连接器就是其中之一。这个装有金属屑的管子是当时唯一可用的实用无线电波检测器。射频电流使小金属碎片聚结,导致电阻降到几乎为零并停留在那儿,直到有人摇动电子管以“decohere”档案。经过数月的不同金属和粒径实验,马可尼’s相干器比它所基于的Edouard Branly和Oliver Lodge的设备敏感得多。他甚至发明了一个小工具,每次操作时都会用小锤子敲打该电子管,并自动将其去噪以接收下一个信号。与马可尼一起’改进的相干器是高架天线及其地面,是将一堆零碎的东西转变成真正的通信链路的关键要素(请参见 数字 下面)。

作为忠诚的意大利人,家庭’s first instinct was to offer the new technology to the 意大利n government. And as a typical government, its first instinct was to play for time. 马可尼, already shaping up as a businessman, knew that time was one thing he did not have, and the family network swung into action again. Using her British relatives and contacts, Annie arranged for Guglielmo to meet one or two people who mattered in the world’s greatest maritime nation. By February 1896 马可尼 was in London.

从专利到产品

It all happened very quickly after that. Another 马可尼 contact in Italy wrote to the 意大利n ambassador in London, whose diplomatic advice was to forget the 意大利n government and patent the invention worldwide. 马可尼’s cousin, 亨利 Jameson Davis, a well connected professional engineer, got hold of a patent lawyer and they set to work. After four months’ graft they filed the first application. Just over a year later, 马可尼 got his patent and formed a company to exploit it. The months between were filled with tests and stunts in which 马可尼 proved beyond doubt that 无线 电报 worked.

亨利’一本小小的黑皮书被证明是无价的:苏格兰工程师A A Campbell Swinton后来成为全电子电视的第一倡导者。通过他,马可尼遇到了邮局的威廉·普雷斯’s formidable chief engineer. It could have gone either way: Preece was already working on 无线 电报 himself. As it turned out, he took the young inventor under his wing, introduced him to yet more people, and championed radio in lectures and demonstrations everywhere. Tests at ever-increasing power and distance on Salisbury Plain, in the Bristol Channel, the Solent and at La Spezia near Genoa had the civil and military top brass from Britain and Italy wide-eyed with amazement.

所有这些都是使用最原始的设备完成的。马可尼’原来的系统缺乏任何调谐:他的发射器刚发射出宽带无线电噪声脉冲。演示很好,但是如果两个人希望同时进行干预,该怎么办?远离马可尼’爵士乐,两位物理学家–德国的Ferdinand Braun和英国的Oliver Lodge–已经有了答案。旅馆称它为“syntony”。他发现,可以使一个合适的电路像音叉一样产生谐振,并且两个调谐到相同频率的电路可以交换能量。然而,洛奇并没有完全看到如何连接谐振电路,以至于它释放出的能量是频率明确定义的波,只有类似调谐的接收器才能响应。

马可尼直观地抓住了洛奇’的想法并使它起作用。他称他的重要修改为“jigger” – Victorian slang for any sort of gadget. It was what we would now call a matching transformer, and it allowed the tuned circuits to see the high impedance they needed for resonance while delivering energy to the low-impedance aerial and earth system. Typically, 马可尼 revealed nothing about the origins of the 跳汰机, so we do not know who invented it. It could have been him or any of the increasing band of formally trained engineers he was gathering around him. All we know is that he incorporated it in his famous patent No. 7777 of 1900, a document that marks the graduation of radio from intriguing possibility to commercial proposition.

跨大西洋争议

There was one other obvious problem with radio that physicists kept harping on about. Even allowing for diffraction at the long wavelengths 马可尼 was using, they argued that there was no way that radio would work over the horizon. A round world and straight rays just did not fit, so 无线 could never compete with wires. This is where 马可尼’缺乏正规教育证明是一种资产。他从不费心去解决问题,他只是尝试了一下。在一次又一次的测试中,他已经证明了收音机的确可以工作。通过某种方式–后来被确认为来自电离层的反射–他可以将地球曲率造成的海水山两边的地方联系起来。

到1900年,在从美洲杯帆船赛到纽约的直接电报报道中,马可尼创立了一家美国公司。英国和北美之间的无线电链路保证了高流量和可观的利润。有了足够的千瓦,新的谐振系统就可以使它运转。马可尼说服他的董事筹集资金并给了钱。它是迄今最大的海水丘陵,并带来了许多人无法解决的技术,财务和政治问题。即使大西洋两岸的巨大天线在暴风雨中炸毁,马可尼仍继续前进。最终,他和他的助手乔治·肯普(George Kemp)终于在1901年12月12日,用他们拥有的最灵敏的探测器缩在纽芬兰多风山上的一间小屋里– their own ears –听到摩尔斯电码字母的淡淡重复三点“S”从他们位于康沃尔郡Poldhu的车站。

马可尼宣传机立即生效。跨大西洋电缆公司也受到了威胁,它们的业务突然受到了威胁。他们指出,马可尼声称的是不可能的,并驱散了各种物理学家来支持它们。马可尼坚称这是事实,尽管他只有一名证人。我们永远都不会知道马可尼是否真的听到了这三个点,或者他和肯普是否是因幻想而产生的幻想的受害者。£50 000 (nearly £1m in today’钱)他的小公司在这场疯狂的实验中大受打击。最后,这是无关紧要的:宣传确保了马可尼的生意和国际明星地位,而跨大西洋的无线电链路虽然最终以一种时尚的方式运转了,却从未赚到多少钱。

集体行为

马可尼喜欢当明星。这三个有争议的点使他走上了一条道路,使他从富裕的绅士队伍中步入了贵族阶层。他已经建立了良好的联系,开始发现,联系更紧密的年轻女性有足够的时间来陪伴一位名不虚传的27岁年轻人,她将意大利人的外表与英国人的外表相结合。经过几次错误的开始之后,他爱上了爱尔兰贵族比阿特丽斯·奥的女儿’布里恩她的父母拥有克莱尔郡(County Clare)约7万英亩,并有一座巨大的城堡,因此1905年的豪华婚礼对这位来自博洛尼亚的小伙子来说是一个很大的进步。和比阿特丽斯’的母亲是一位时尚的社会专栏作家,他确保马克(私下里称呼他)留在战前社会分化的社交世界中。

这是一个即将消失的世界。在一场战争的悲剧性排练中,这将使它最终屈服,上流社会的幻想 铁达尼号 struck ice-cold reality in April 1912. About 1500 people lost their lives. 更多 would have died without 马可尼 equipment on board: thanks to its distress calls, the Cunard liner 喀尔巴阡山脉 不到一个半小时就到了现场。但是,前电子收音机的高潮出现在其发明者经历了可怕的一年之初’s life.

到1912年5月,Bea O’布里恩生了两个孩子。家庭生活和马可尼只是没有混在一起。他的国际性工作狂已经很糟糕了。他利用豪华客轮生活沉迷于一些引人注目的女性化的事实,使它变得无法忍受。在整个1912年,夫妻俩讨论了分居问题,在这种背景下,马可尼丑闻爆发了。今天’小故事看起来很温顺。总理戴维·劳埃德·乔治(David Lloyd George)被指控进行马可尼股票的内幕交易,当有消息称马可尼获得了18个新电台的政府合同后,马可尼股票的内幕交易就急剧上涨。总检察长是马可尼的兄弟的事实’的董事总经理戈弗雷·艾萨克斯(Godfrey Isaacs)使事情变得更糟。到1913年,这一切都被粉刷掉了,但污点从未消失。最终,在9月,始终对自己充满自信的马可尼(Marconi)和比尔(Bea)在意大利驾车时坠毁,右眼失明。不幸的是,对他的妻子来说,更换玻璃丝毫没有妨碍他的风格。

The First World War brought a spurt of technical development. Electronics, growing from 马可尼 consultant John Ambrose Fleming’s invention of the thermionic diode in 1904, began to transform radio techniques. Gifted engineers like 亨利 Round made dramatic improvements to 马可尼’的原始系统。波长变短了,思绪又回到了赫兹’s original experiments with highly directional radio beams. Instead of scattering power in all directions, 马可尼’新的短波发射器将功率发送到了它最擅长的地方。

At last radio could challenge cable, and it did. The net effect, though, was a loss of profits for both businesses, and eventually they had to combine their interests. In 1928, with 马可尼’s short-wave “Imperial Chain” connecting Australia, Canada, India and South Africa, the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference decided that radio and cable should combine to form a single operating company, Imperial and International Communications. 马可尼’s company got a 44% share in the new business, but was no longer allowed to be an operator. From then on the dream of linking the world was dead: 马可尼 became a mere equipment supplier.

陷入困境的岁月

Things really started to go wrong in the early 1920s. After a final bust-up with Bea in 1921, the couple divorced in 1923. In 1925 Isaacs retired as 马可尼’s managing director, and a new, far less sympathetic board was installed. 马可尼, unwanted in the decreasingly experimental world of commercial radio and by now at the awkward age of 51, started a ridiculous affair with a 17 year old called Betty Paynter. It did not last long, but the male menopause continued: by the summer, 马可尼 was in love with Cristina Bezzi-Scali, the daughter of an 意大利n count. He had met her at one of his glitzy parties on 埃莱特拉是他在1919年购买的240英尺游艇。 埃莱特拉 是他生活中不可或缺的一部分,是避难所,他可以在此进行实验,聚会和妇女化,不受妻子和家人的困扰。

马可尼 turned his energy from taming 无线 waves to beating the system. He became increasingly out of touch with radio technicalities as he used his influence in high places to get round the religious obstacles that prevented him from marrying Cristina. Converting to Roman Catholicism (Annie 马可尼 had brought him up as a Protestant) was the easy bit. Much harder was the fact that the Catholic church does not recognize divorce. It took two years to bully Bea into telling the necessary lies, but by 1927 his marriage to her was annulled and he was married to a different woman.

A very different woman. With Cristina, 马可尼’s days as a seafaring experimenter were pretty well over. Cristina expected him to be by her side, not carrying on like a schoolboy, and on the whole he complied. After all, he was a hereditary peer by now, Marchese 马可尼. Or maybe he felt that his talents would be better employed helping Italy through the troubled days that were part of the long run-up to the Second World War. Certainly 马可尼’法西斯主义的热心支持可以追溯到这个时候。

马可尼 had been a member of the fascist party since 1923, but it was not until after he had married Cristina that he became really active. In 1930 Benito Mussolini made him president of the 学术性d’Italia, overriding a law that prevented 马可尼, by then a member of the 意大利n senate, from serving. This automatically made 马可尼 a member of the Fascist Grand Council, a fact that troubled him not one bit. Indeed, he began to insist that correspondence was addressed to “His Excellency the Senator Marchese Guglielmo 马可尼, president of the Royal Academy of Italy, Member of the Fascist Grand Council”.

马可尼 had become a grand old man, and a very right-wing one at that. He toured the world rallying fascist supporters. He made fascist speeches on the radio. He wrote fascist 文章s in the press. But when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, 马可尼 was mortified to find himself –作为受国际联盟制裁的国家的国民–阻止在他帮助成立的广播公司BBC上发表关于入侵的言论。

马可尼’s legacy

Long before Mussolini was toppled, 马可尼 was dead. His frequently challenged coronary arteries finally gave up on 20 July 1937, his youngest child’s seventh birthday. He left behind him a world that had come to regard radio as a commodity, not a miracle. Britain even had an infant television service, broadcast via 马可尼 equipment. He also left behind a legion of detractors who correctly pointed out that others, such as Lodge and the Russian Aleksandr Popov, had sent 无线 messages before 马可尼 got his patent, and that even his aerial and earth were not entirely original.

It does not really matter. What 马可尼 undoubtedly did invent was an entirely new science-based industry. In his hands an obscure and, to most people, unintelligible branch of physics became a consumer product like no other. We are used to being told that some new technology will change the world. 马可尼’s是这样做的少数几个。

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