Marconi is probably best remembered for the company he set up under his name. And because of the high profile of this company, many people believe he invented the radio. But in fact, he worked on it with Karl Ferdinand Braun and they together received the 1909 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Marconi was born into Italian nobility on the 25th April 1874 in Bologna. After spending some time in England, he returned to Italy and enrolled at university to attend lectures in science and to use some of the laboratories there. Telegraphy became an interest of his and he began to work on ideas to transmit signals wirelessly over long distances. Much of his earlier work was conducted at the family home which was financially supported by his father and aided by the family butler.
By 1895 he was able to transmit a signal over half a mile. This was thought to be the maximum radio waves could travel. But Marconi was to prove them wrong. He got no help in his research from the Italian government and so he travelled to England. It is said that when Customs at Dover checked his baggage, they found so much technical equipment that the Admiralty was called in. This was good for Marconi for when they heard of his plans, they offered to help him.
By the 27th March 1899, he had transmitted a signal across the English Channel and on the 12th December 1901, the Atlantic Ocean was conquered; a distance of two thousand two hundred miles. The true value of radio communications was underlined when on the night of 15th April 1912, a radio distress call was sent out by the ocean liner, Titanic. It was picked up by the ship the Carpathia which was able to come to the aid of the stricken ship and save some of the passengers.
Today it has become an integral part of communications in many forms from ground, ship, aircraft and spacecraft. Marconi married twice and had four daughters and a son between them. In later life, he suffered a number of heart attacks and died on the 20th July 1937.