Rev. Jozef Murgas: Radio's Forgotten Genius
Originally aired on WVIA-TV in 1996
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Wilkes-Barre, PA area in the Anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania served as a melting pot where many immigrantsw came in search of a job and a new life for themselves and their families. It was here that a young Roman Catholic priest from Slovakia came not only to lead a new congregation, but to eventually lead the way to the development of wireless communications.
Wireless telegraphy became reality in the 1890s when Nikola Tesla in the United States and Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi found ways to use radio waves to transmit telegraph messages without wires. Marconi's "spark" radio, however, could at first only generate a simple, uniform signal. Rev. Jozef Murgas Worked in his basement workshop, in the early 1900s developing a "Musical Tone System" that by introducing a variety of tones through a high-speed alternator to the "spark" enabled faster recognition of Morse code signals. Murgas' musical-tone system, and a similar system developed independently by William Duddell in England, were a significant improvement over single-tone systems.
In 1904, Murgas patented his musical-tone system and began to construct towers needed for its demonstration. By 1905, he entered into a partnership with a group of Philadelphia-based investors to develop and market Murgas' system.
Rev. Jozef Murgas was a gifted man and his ideas are a recorded part of an important frontier in the history of communications technology.
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