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Hertz, Heinrich 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'.

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!
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Discover the early days of the telephone...