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The very first radios were "sparkgap radios" (e.g. Marconi's radio). They could only be used for radio telegraphy (i.e. sending telegrams).

The transmitter was a high voltage sparkgap connected to a long antenna wire. A message was sent by applying a high voltage across the sparkgap each time the operator pressed the telegraph key, generating a spark and causing the antenna wire to radiate very wideband electromagnetic noise.

The receiver was a low voltage sparkgap connected to a long antenna wire. When the antenna picked up any electromagnetic noise the sparkgap would spark while that noise was being picked up. However it was not practical to look for this spark, so a device called a "coherer" was used to detect the spark and generate a signal to drive a conventional telegraph sounder. The coherer was a glass tube full of iron filings with an electrode at each end touching the filings, usually the filings made poor contact and the resistance of the coherer was high; but when the voltage across the sparkgap became high enough to spark as the coherer was across that sparkgap this voltage caused the filings to cohere and the resistance of the coherer to became low, energizing the telegraph sounder. Unfortunately the iron filings in the coherer stayed stuck together causing the resistance to stay low, so a small electromagnetically operated hammer tapped the coherer each time it activated to knock the filings apart and reset it to its normal high resistance state, deenergizing the telegraph sounder.

The biggest problem with such radios was the wideband electromagnetic noise they used did not permit more than one station to transmit at a time, if more than one station transmitted at the same time the result was an unintelligible garble!

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7y ago
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14y ago

A long long time ago, when the radio did not exist. Dinosaurs roamed the earth, killing innocent children EVEN SANTA CLAUSE !

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Q: What was the world like before the radio was invented?
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