How Radio Communication Influenced History


In 1886, German physicist Heinrich Hertz became the first person in history to broadcast and receive radio waves. He didn’t have much faith in his work at the time, writing, “I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application.”

132 years later, we can safely say he was wrong about that. His discovery laid the groundwork for many devices we now use every day – TVs, radios, mobile phones and, of course, two-way radios.

Since then, radio communication has played a crucial role in many important events over the last 100 years.


1910 – First use of Radio in Aviation

Frederick Baldwin and John McCurdy became the first people to use radios on board a plane, trailing an aerial behind their bi-plane to demonstrate radio’s uses for aviation.


1912 – The Titanic

Up until this point, many ships were using carrier pigeons as their main communication method, but radio devices invented by Guglielmo Marconi were beginning to be used more commonly on ships. Many people claim that if it weren’t for the use of Marconi’s radios on board the Titanic, there wouldn’t have been any survivors.


1943 – World’s First FM Portable Two-Way Radio

In 1943 Motorola (known at the time as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation) created the first portable FM two-way radio. It wasn’t quite as small and convenient as the radios we know and use today, weighing almost 16 kilograms which meant it had to be worn like a backpack. They were known as “pack sets” but journalists at the time gave them the nickname of “walkie talkie”. They were used by soldiers in WWII as FM radios had better long-range voice quality, and a range of 10 miles.


1969 – First Words from the Moon

On 20th July 1969 a Motorola radio transponder relayed those iconic first words from the moon to Earth, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The transponder aboard the Apollo 11 lunar module transmitted telemetry, tracking, voice communications and television signals between Earth and the moon.



Nowadays radio communication has come on in leaps and bounds. Some of the digital radios in use nowadays are smaller than a mobile phone and can not only receive and transmit voice but also text messages and emails, a drastic change from the early models. Who knows what devices we’ll be using in another hundred years!