Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Voice Transmission on Radio

This is both seasonal, historical and religiously significant in my opinion.
FromThe First Broadcast - Christmas Eve 1906
For their entire careers, the "Sparks", the ship wireless operators, had only heard Morse code "dit - dahs" coming through their headphones. Suddenly at 9 PM Eastern Time on Christmas Eve, they heard something that made some think they were dreaming, a human voice coming from those headphones. Then they heard singing. There was a violin solo. Then a man made a speech. Some called their captain and ship's officers to come and listen.

The genius responsible was Reginald Fessenden. He had succeeded in transmitting voice and music over the air. Fessenden himself played a violin solo of "O Holy Night" accompanying himself as he sang the last verse (below). He also read the Biblical account of the birth of Christ from Luke chapter 2 over the air. The text of the angels' song "Glory to God in the Highest - and on Earth - Peace to Men of Goodwill " was heard as if by miracle.

At the conclusion, Fessenden wished all a Merry Christmas and invited the Sparks to write him at Brant Rock, Massachusetts with reception reports. Reports were received from ships all along the Atlantic northeast coast and from shore stations as far south as Norfolk, Virginia. A repeat broadcast on New Year's Eve was heard as far south as the West Indies.

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