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Popov portrait Popov, Alexander (1859-1906)

Alexander Popov invented a wireless communications system at about the same time as Marconi.

The main difference between the two men was that Popov was a scientist without the business ambitions of Marconi, and wasn't as interested in selling his invention.

Popov grew up in the Turinsk mining district of Russia, the son of a priest. He studied maths and physics in St Petersburg, then started teaching physics and researching at the naval warfare institute.

Popov was trying to detect thunderstorms in advance by picking up static electrical signals, which led him to experiment with wireless. In May 1895 he transmitted a signal a modest 600 yards, and within two years his wireless system had been installed on Russian naval vessels and land stations.

In 1900, the radio saved hundreds of lives when it was used for the first time to launch a rescue mission for a ship in distress.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...