Hertz, Heinrich (1857-1894)
Heinrich Hertz was the first man to transmit an electrical current between two points without using a wire, paving the way for radio.
A physics teacher in Germany, he had read Maxwell's ideas on electricity and developed an experiment to see if the theories stood up to practice.
In a corner of his polytechnic laboratory in Berlin, he made an electric charge jump from one metal rod to another. This small leap was a giant step. It proved that electromagnetic (radio) waves did exist and also that they moved at the speed of light.
Although an amusement for the students, Hertz could find no practical use at all for this discovery. It was left to Marconi to exploit the idea for transmitting radio.
Hertz died of blood poisoning aged only 37, but his name lives on as the unit for measuring radio frequencies-one cycle per second-the 'Hertz'.