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Explorations in Science and Technology

His Research Led to the Wireless Phone


Cell phone users wouldn’t be able to talk, text, or listen without the groundwork laid by Pitt researcher Reginald Fessenden, whose experiments led to the first wireless phone.

In 1906, Fessenden broadcast the first long-distance transmission over the Atlantic—a voice-and-violin rendition of “O Holy Night.” Fessenden's prodigious genuis would eventually lead to 500 patents on such inventions as the wireless telephone, wireless compass, and devices used in battleships. Fessenden, dubbed the “Father of Radio,” was the first chair of Pitt’s electrical engineering department, serving from 1893 to 1900. He did much of his radio research at the University.