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Radio Technology

David Hendy


The history of radio technology can be divided chronologically into four main eras: experimentation with basic equipment between the 1890s and 1920s; broadcasting to mass audiences using established processes between the 1930s and 1950s; adjustment to the arrival of television from the 1950s; and, finally, the emergence of digital radio technology from the late 1980s. This history can also be viewed thematically , by distinguishing between developments in the capture and manipulation of sound by program-makers, the transmission of those sounds across the ether, and the ways they have been heard by listeners. What unites each era and each theme is a recurring tension between the push for technological improvement – such as a desire to attain higher fidelity sound – and an equally powerful determination among producers and listeners to maintain radio's status as cheap, easy to operate, and instantly accessible. Another perennial tension is between the centripetal and centrifugal forces that technology unleashed on the medium (→  Information and Communication Technology, Development of ). The origins of “wireless” are complex. Though Gugliemo Marconi (1871–1937) is popularly credited with being its founding father, most academic authors stress the medium's emergence through a broad front of inventive acts in electrical science during the second half of the nineteenth century. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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