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Tivoli Audio Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Radio on December 24th, 2006

Reginald Fessenden First Conceived of Radio as Entertainment and News Boston, MA – One hundred years ago, the world received its first broadcast of voice and music giving birth to the age of wireless radio as a form of entertainment and news. As an internationally- acclaimed radio company, Tivoli Audio finds it fitting to pay tribute to a relatively unknown inventor by the name of Reginald Aubrey Fessenden as the “Father of Broadcasting”, who conceived of this concept with the world’s first transmission of voice and music on December 24, 1906. “Without this significant accomplishment, achieved in 1906 by a relatively unknown inventor by the name of Reginald Fessenden, radio and television as we know it today would never exist as a means of news and entertainment to be enjoyed and listened to by the masses,” says Tom DeVesto, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Tivoli Audio, the leading manufacturer of high performance radios, many of which were designed in association with the legendary inventor Henry Kloss. “Unlike Marconi who used a series of sparks to create dots and dashes to communicate one to one, Fessenden had the vision to understand that his continuous wave technology could communicate by sending signals in speech and music to multiple recipients. Fessenden foresaw radio the way no one did at that time and gave birth to the broadcast entertainment industry.” The wireless radio broadcast revolution began on December 24, 1906 at 9 PM East Coast time, with the historic event of Reginald Fessenden’s first wireless public radio broadcast of voices and music transmitted live from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, to wireless operators of several US Navy, United Fruit Company and fishing ships in the Atlantic Ocean. What they heard, for the first time, was Fessenden broadcasting his rendition of “Oh Holy Night” on the violin, a recording of Handel’s “Largo” played on the Ediphone, and readings from the Bible, before wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. He repeated his gift of broadcast radio again on December 31, 1906, as a New Year’s Eve performance – presenting wireless radio transmission as a form of entertainment – not just the dots and dashes sent as Morse code messages from point to point that marked the radio reception of that time, but to a multitude of recipients simultaneously. His first broadcast was successfully received by dozens of ships in the Atlantic Ocean as seamen reported back to him on the broadcast transmission, confirming the invention of radio. “Technically, electronic entertainment or ‘real’ radio began with Reginald Fessenden in 1906. Prior to Fessenden’s technology, the world communicated by wireless with Marconi’s Morse code broadcasting of dots and dashes tapped out by the telegraph key,” states Robert Merriam, President, New England Museum of Wireless and Steam, Inc. “The continuous wave technology discovered by Fessenden allowed him to perfect the transmission of speech and music, giving birth to the concept of broadcasting as a form of entertainment and news.” “Legend has it that Fessenden would often be found in a river or lake, floating on his back, a cigar sticking out of his mouth and a hat pulled down over his eyes pondering his next invention,” concludes Mr. DeVesto. “It was on one of these occasions that Fessenden first realized the effects of continuous waves on radio transmission.” Fessenden first discovered the continuous wave technology by throwing a stone in a lake and observing how the waves circle outward where the rock hit the water. He believed that for voice sounds to travel wirelessly, the Hertzian waves must radiate by encircling an antenna at the receiving station. Marconi’s transmission operated in sparks that would stop and go, but Fessenden saw the need for continuous steady streams. Known as the unsung hero, Fessenden is technically the inventor of radio telephony or what radio listeners would call “real” radio, as opposed to Marconi’s Morse code broadcasting. He should have received worldwide acclaim as the inventor of radio; instead he never received his due recognition, even lost control of his patents and the revenue, which would have amassed him immense wealth. The Encyclopedia Canadiana only mentions his achievements under a listing for his mother Clementina, who established Empire Day in Canada. Reginald Fessenden is credited as one of her four sons who was the “inventor of the wireless telephone, the radio compass and the visible bullet for machine guns, he also invented the first television set in North America in 1919.” American books describe him as the American “Marconi”. At the time of his death at age 62, Fessenden, largely a forgotten man, was called by the head of General Electric Laboratories “The greatest wireless inventor of the age – greater than Marconi.” Reginald Fessenden was born in Canada in 1866. He worked for Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse on some of their most famous achievements. He was Professor of Electrical Engineering at Purdue University and chief of electrical engineering at Western University of Pennsylvania (today University of Pittsburgh). He holds over 500 patents for his inventions, which is second only to Thomas Edison. He was hired by the U.S. Weather Bureau to develop wireless transmitters to forecast the weather. He developed a wireless system for submarines to signal each other, as well as a device using radio waves designed to locate icebergs miles away, thus avoiding another disaster like the one that destroyed the Titanic. At the start of World War I, Fessenden was sent to London, England where he developed a device to detect enemy artillery and another to locate enemy submarines. Although an admirer of Marconi, Fessenden always felt that the Marconi spark-coherer system was fatally flawed in that it would never be able to send Morse signals at any great speed and that it held no prospect of sending or receiving speech. Edison who called him “Fessie” had told him that he had as much chance of transmitting speech as ‘jumping over the moon’. “Reginald Fessenden is truly the father of broadcasting and created what became the broadcasting industry,” adds Donna L. Halper, Media Historian, Emerson College. “He was literally on the cutting edge as he sparked the romance of wireless, transforming it from bursts of electrical dots and dashes to a continuous wave transmission of speech and music. Although the average person at the time didn’t have a clue that this technology was going to affect society for the next 100 years, we owe Reginald Fessenden a huge debt of thanks for his vision and perseverance.”