Today in History: Dec. 12

Guglielmo Marconi reported the successful reception of the first transatlantic radio signal on this date in 1901. He had built a station in Cornwall, the far southwest of England, and then traveled to Canada, to a far eastern point in Newfoundland called Signal Hill. (In the photo at top, Marconi is seen on the left directing his associates as they raise a kite with an antenna attached. They are atop Signal Hill.)

The message, three repeated clicks, which is Morse code for the letter S, was sent from the Cornwall transmitter at an appointed time, and, at that appointed time, something—one click or was it three? You heard it, too, right?—something was heard at Signal Hill. At the time of the transmission, the entire route was in sunlight.

Marconi announced his achievement and then set out to build stronger stations and receivers. The wireless age was underway.

December 12, 1901: Marconi's First Transatlantic Signal

December 12, 1901: Marconi’s First Transatlantic Signal

Because no third party was on hand to verify hearing the signal, Marconi soon pursued the development of stronger equipment at both ends and better means of verifying his results. A year later, he transmitted a message from Canada to England and in January 1903, he sent a message from President Roosevelt to the King of England from a station on Cape Cod.

* * * *
Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that the halting of the Florida recount of votes in the Presidential election in that state on December 9 was correct because there was not enough time between then and the Electoral College vote on December 18, was issued on this date in 2000. It essentially ended that year’s presidential election; Florida’s electors were awarded to Texas governor George W. Bush, and with that, he won the election of 2000.

(Historical aside: If Vice President Al Gore had won the state of Tennessee along with the states he won, there would have been no need for a recount of Florida’s votes. Tennessee is Gore’s home state. A victory there would have brought him to 278 electoral votes and Bush would have won 260, even with Florida’s 25 votes.)

* * * *
Robert Browning died on this date in 1889. Jack Cassidy died 40 years ago today. Joseph Heller died on this date in 1999. Peter Boyle died 10 years ago today.

* * * *
Edvard Munch was born on this date in 1863. Edward G. Robinson was born on this date in 1893. Frank Sinatra was born on this date in 1915. Mayor Ed Koch was born in 1924 on this date. Grover Washington Jr. was born in 1943 on this date.

* * * *
Bob Barker is 93 today. Connie Francis is 78 today. Dionne Warwick is 76 today. (She will be touring in 2017.) “I Say a Little Prayer”:

Dickey Betts is 73 today. Emerson Fittipaldi is 70 today. Bill Nighy is 67. Sheila E. is 59 today. Rory Kennedy is 48 today. Mayim Bialik is 41 today.

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One comment

  1. loisajay · December 12, 2016

    Connie Francis…..a true blast from the past. Thanks, Mark.


Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

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