St. Petersburg: V. Demakov, 1896. Contemporary half leather with gilt lettering on the spine and marbled boards. Tears of the spine’s and corners’ leather. Otherwise a very good clean copy.
First publication. Very rare.
In Russian tradition, Alexander Popov (1859-1909) is considered the inventor of the radio and this paper is the main reason why. On May 7, 1895, Popov presented a lecture entitled ‘‘On the Relation of Metallic Powders to Electrical Oscillation’’ to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society (RPCS) in St. Petersburg. By connecting the coherer to a wire antenna on one end and a ground wire on the other end, Popov was able to receive electromagnetic waves from distant lightning bolts. He made further demonstrations of his «storm indicator» later that summer at the Institute of Forestry in St. Petersburg, detecting lighting charges as far as 20 miles away.
In January 1896, he published this work in the Journal of the RPCS in which he described the principle of ‘wireless telegraph’ for the first time. He ended the article with a prediction of the development of radiotelegraphic technology: ‘‘In conclusion, I may express the hope that my apparatus, when further perfected, may be used for the transmission of signals to a distance by means of rapid electric vibrations if only a source of such vibrations can be found possessing sufficient energy’’. (This was months before Guillermo Marconi applied for his world-known patent on the 2nd of June 1896.) On March 24, 1896, Popov reportedly demonstrated just such a telegraphic transmission by sending ‘rapid electric vibrations’ in the form of Morse Code some 800 feet from one building at St. Petersburg University, where the RPCS was again meeting, to another building, where the society’s president, F.F. Petrushevsky, transcribed the message onto the blackboard: ‘‘Heinrich Hertz’’. Unfortunately, no written record survived of this historic demonstration, and it was not until 30 years later that witnesses attested to this occurrence.
There are two reasons why Popov’s invention was disregarded in the western tradition. Firstly, he hasn’t applied for the patent of his invention immediately as he made the discovery. It’s well-known that Marconi travelled to England and demonstrated his apparatus to the local authorities which helped him to promote it. Secondly, Popov’s early experiments transmitted the signals only for 250-500 meters, while Marconi managed to transmit the signal for 2.4 km half a year later than Popov.