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Broadcast Engineers

History

At the end of the 19th century, Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian engineer, successfully sent radio waves across a room in his home and helped launch the 20th-century age of mass communication. Marconi quickly realized the potential for his experiments with radio waves. By 1901 he had established the Marconi Wireless Company in England and the United States and soon after successfully transmitted radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

At first, radio signals were used to transmit information and for communication between two points, but eventually the idea was developed that radio could be used for entertainment, and in 1919, the Radio Corporation of America, or RCA, was founded. Families everywhere gathered around their radios to listen to music, drama, comedy, and news programs. Radio became a commercial success, and radio technology advanced, creating the need for skilled engineers to operate the complicated electronic equipment.

In 1933, frequency modulation, or FM, was introduced; originally there had been only amplitude modulation, or AM. This vastly improved the quality of radio broadcasting. At the same time, experimentation was occurring with higher frequency radio waves, and in 1939 at the World's Fair in New York City, RCA demonstrated television.

The effect television had on changing mass communication was as dramatic as the advent of the radio. Technology continued to advance with the introduction of color imaging, which became widely available in 1953. The number of VHF and UHF channels continued to increase; in the 1970s cable television and subscription television became available, further increasing the amount and variety of programming. Continuing advances in broadcast technology (such as the recently completed transition from analog to digital signals) ensure the need for trained engineers who understand and can maintain the highly technical equipment used in television and radio stations.

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