History of the very first DX

Marconi first contact December  12th, 1901 is certainly a date with a historical relevance in radio transmissions.

In fact, at 04.30 GMT of that day, Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first transatlantic wireless communication.

Succeeding in this contact, Marconi demonstrate that radio waves transmissions could be transmitted even across the Atlantic ocean.

With this success Marconi, in addition, disproved detractors who told him, that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less.

The Facts

The Italian inventor received in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, the letter S in morse code (three dots) transmitted from Poldhu, Cornwall, in England.

Marconi first contact
Signal Hill, Newfoundland Canada, to Poldhu, Cornwall, England.

Marconi set up a specially designed wireless receiver in Newfoundland, Canada, using a coherer (a glass tube filled with iron filings) to conduct radio waves, and balloons and kites to lift the antenna as high as possible.

Marconi AntennaThe station in Cornwall, England instead was composed by a twenty-four ships’ masts each 200 feet high, and the transmitter was powered by a 32 brake horsepower engine driving a 25 kilowatt alternator.

the very first dxHistory says that detractors were correct when they declared that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth.

In fact today we know that radio waves had been headed into space from England when they were reflected off the ionosphere and finally bounced back down toward Canada.

Science demonstrated and explained this contact, made thanks to Radio wave propagation, just a few years later.

Therefore thinking in terms of amateur radio logic, we should consider this experiment as the first DX contact ever.

If you are interested in Marconi’s experiments and history, probably you can find interesting arguments and further details about this story here:

What is a DX?

If you are not an amateur radio operator, DX could be considered a funny term.

In the amateur radio lingo:

DX is the telegraphic shorthand for distance or distant
DXing is the hobby of receiving and identifying distant radio signals.

Marconi and the very first DX on YouTube