An unpublished story from the files of the Oral History Project
On that wonderful evening, unbelievable sounds suddenly quavered in their earphones. There was music—Handel’s Largo , someone on the violin, finally a song, amateurishly executed. Then the singer read a Bible text, identified himself as a Mr. Fessenden, transmitting “wireless telephony” from Brant Rock near Plymouth, Massachusetts, and wished anyone who heard the transmission would let him know. Thus, only nine years after Marconi gave his first convincing demonstration of wireless telegraphy, that is, mere electric signals, the tongues of men, and of angels (and sometimes mere sounding brass and tinkling cymbals), floated in the air.
Many of the leading figures of early radio—whether in the engineering, organizing or performing ends—are still active, and of these a large number have contributed their reminiscences to the Oral History Research Office of Columbia University in New York, whose goal is the preservation of first hand records of recent American history. The Oral History Office, already represented in the December, 1954, issue with the reminiscences of Albert Lasker, is headed by Professor Allan Nevins, and directed, in the case of this particular study, by Frank Ernest Hill. The Radio Pioneers Club made the project possible. AMERICAN HERITAGE is indebted to them all for the privilege of using these recollections.