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Preece portrait Preece, William (1834-1913)

William Preece was the Chief Engineer of the General Post Office who introduced wireless telegraphy to the organisation.

Preece had conducted wireless experiments with limited success for the Post Office, when in 1896 he was introduced to the young Marconi, who had already solved some of the problems that defeated him. Preece immediately made space in his laboratory and provided assistants to help Marconi develop the system, which they demonstrated together to the press.

Although in the field of wireless he never matched Marconi's success, Preece was a superb engineer in his own right. He was a great facilitator who helped open doors for others. He was also active in the establishment of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

Preece continued with his own experiments, and although he never matched Marconi's success with wireless, he never allowed pride to affect progress. His simple attitude towards Marconi was typical - 'Marconi' he said 'can communicate with lightships and lighthouses, we cannot'.

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...