Canadian Marconi History

Wireless Heroic Years [1901 - 1938]

Ultra Electronics TCS is an expert in the field of tactical Software-Defined Radio (SDR) products with a long legacy of radio technology development and innovation. Its products are known for their superior RF and system performance and typically represent significant advances in technology (first cognitive radio in 1992, first military high capacity software modem in 1998, first dual Time Duplex/Frequency Duplex radio in 2010, first production MIMO, 1 Gbps military radio in 2013, etc.).  This tradition for innovation and technology leadership traces its roots back to The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Communication Company of Canada, first established in 1903 in the City of Montreal.  This document recounts the earlier years of this pioneering company, our company.

Read the full story here: Wireless Heroic Years [1901 – 1938]



Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi, was an entrepreneur, businessman and founder of the UK based Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company (which later became the Marconi Company) in 1897.  Marconi succeeded in making the radio a commercial success by innovating and building on the work of previous experimenters and physicists.


The first wireless communications were all based on spark technology.  If an electric spark is made to snap or crack between two metal points, its induced electro-magnetic wave can be sent at long distance from a wire elevated in the air at one end and connected to the ground at the other end.  
While spark transmitters were being deployed on ships, coastal stations and long range wireless installations, revolutionary work was being done based on the incandescent light patented by Edison in 1881. The Fleming ``valve`` developed by British electrical engineer Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945) was the first practical application of thermionic emission, discovered in 1873 by Frederick Guthrie.
At the start of the war the only radios available in UK were a few Marconi  500-watt and 1500-watt spark transmitters and their crystal-detector receivers. The 500-watt pack sets were used with Cavalry Brigades and the 1500-watt wagon sets with Cavalry Divisional Headquarters and General Headquarters. The horse drawn wagon had two compartments, one for the Wireless equipment and one for the accumulators. 
In the period immediately following WWI, there was a marked increase in Maritime activities in Canada.  Many new ships, in some cases whole new fleets, were built. The Canadian Government Merchant Fleet was established with approximately 70 vessels, all of which were fitted with wireless equipment supplied by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada.
The large scale manufacture of wireless valves and the work done during the War had allowed the production of higher performance, more compact and lower cost radio sets.  With peace came the explosion of commercial radio development and its rapid popularization . The first radio broadcast in Canada, and one of the first in the world, was accomplished by Marconi in Montreal on December 1, 1919 under the call sign XWA (for "Experimental Wireless Apparatus").
In 1930, the company moved to a brand new consolidated facility in Ville-Mont-Royal (Town of Mount Royal) on Trenton Street which was to remain its headquarter for 64 year i.e. until 1994. Its inauguration in September 1930 was a significant event for Montreal.

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