IN a world where instant electronic communication and exchange of information is available to all, two lengths of original Morse code ticker-tape seem akin to tele-antiquities.
However, these two little strips of paper to be offered at
Mealy's of Dublin on December 13-14 mark Guglielmo
Marconi's first ever use of a wireless telegraph transmission for
commercial, journalistic or indeed sporting purpose, and are valued
In the mid 1890s, Marconi's Irish mother encouraged him to move
from Italy to England to further his work in wireless
Having there demonstrated transmission of signals over distances
of up to nine miles, Marconi - whose own experiments and work owed
much to the experiments of others but who was far more astute and
successful in exploiting the commercial potential of radio - filed
for the world's first patent in wireless telegraphy, and in March
1897 set up The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company.
Marine safety and ship-to-shore communications were obvious
applications of his transmissions, and Lloyd's asked Marconi to
establish a wireless link between Rathlin Island off the coast of
Country Antrim and Ballycastle on the mainland, to report on
shipping entering the channel between Ireland and Scotland.
While engaged in this work, Marconi was asked by two Dublin
newspapers - the Daily Express and Evening Mail -
if he could enable them to report the results of the races at the
Kingstown Regatta of the Royal St George Yacht Club at Dun
Laoghaire, direct from the high seas. Marconi obliged and moved his
equipment temporarily from Ballycastle and set up a transmitter in
a tugboat fitted with a special mast.
In July 1898, Marconi transmitted the results of all the major
races from his tugboat, miles out at sea, to a station in the
harbourmaster's office, where they were printed on a Morse tape
machine, decoded and telegraphed to the newspapers.
These historic pieces of ticker-tape were later given by Marconi
to T.P. Gill, then editor of the Dublin Daily Express, sponsors of
the Kingstown Regatta. The first strip, with manuscript decoding,
also offers the world's first telegraphed spelling mistake,
HERE A WIRE FORM MR MARCONI...
Marconi later established his celebrated transatlantic wireless
stations in the West of Ireland, the first at Crookhaven in Co.
Cork, the second near Clifden, in Connemara, which remained in
operation until 1922, when it became a casualty of the Irish Civil
By Ian McKay
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