When in 1903 the Marconi Wireless Company began a public demonstration of its systems, an unwelcome message began to appear via the Morse printer: “There was a young man from Italy, who diddled the public so prettily…”
The source of the embarrassment was the
transmitter of a business rival who was aware that Marconi's system
could not distinguish between multiple transmissions issued at any
For Guglielmo Marconi, the incident
highlighted the need for a tuning device capable of choosing
between two or more simultaneous signals.
One of his top engineers, C.S. Franklin, was
assigned the problem and by 1907 a major milestone in radio
development was reached with the patent for the Marconi Multiple
Used in conjunction with Marconi's Magnetic
Detector or 'maggi', the tuners were standard equipment in the
ship-to-shore service for almost a decade (there was one in the
telegraph room onTitanic) before technology moved on during the
First World War.
The example pictured here, marked
Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co Ltd, London and with
the serial number 36984, was offered by Suffolk auctioneers
Durrants (12½% buyer's premium) at Beccles on October 26.
It had been found in a garden shed and
was in battered but unrestored condition - just how Marconi buffs
like to find them.
Pre-sale research highlighted its potential value and a
confident estimate of £3000-£5000 became a selling price of