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Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991)

For 50 years, radio dominated the airwaves as the first mass medium. Ken Burns examines the lives of three men who shared the responsibility for its invention and early success.

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Red Barber ...
Himself - Radio Announcer
Erik Barnouw ...
Himself - Historian
Ken Bilby ...
Himself - Biographer of David Sarnoff
...
Himself - Writer
Susan Douglas ...
Herself - Historian
Frank Günther ...
Himself (engineer)
Jeanne Hammond ...
Herself - Niece of Edwin H. Armstrong
Loren Jones ...
Himself - Engineer
...
Himself - Writer
Helen Kelley ...
Herself - Radio Broadcaster
Robert Morris ...
Himself - Engineer
Dana Raymond ...
Himself - Friend of Edwin H. Armstrong
Gertrude Tyne ...
Herself - Engineer
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For 50 years, radio dominated the airwaves as the first mass medium. Ken Burns examines the lives of three men who shared the responsibility for its invention and early success.

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October 1991 (USA)  »

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Trivia

At the end of the credits, there is a message in Morse code that reads "Baseball next". Ken Burns' documentary on baseball did come after this one. See more »

Connections

Features This Is Your Life (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why not nobody mentions TESLA while he is the true inventor according to the Supreme Court Ruling in 1943
17 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Guglielmo Marconi Case Who is the True Inventor of Radio?

How many mistakes are there in our history books after all? How many facts are erroneously described and so replicated throughout the world, while the reality is completely different?

The invention of radio is one of these cases. Despite the fact that almost every book mentions Guglielmo Marconi as the inventor of radio, the only thing Marconi did seems to be nothing more than reproducing apparatus Nikola Tesla had registered years ago. Marconi copied Tesla, made some modifications, built a large industry producing radio devices in Europe and spent huge amounts to advertise his supposed invention.

Yet, the inventor of radio is Nikola Tesla, as proved by official court decisions and as great scientists of his era admit.

The Facts

1893 Tesla carries his first experiments with high frequency electric currents. The first demonstration of wireless communication. In his articles and lectures Tesla describes his first radio apparatus in detail.

1895 Marconi presents a radio device in London, claiming it as his invention. However, the device is the same as what Tesla had already described in his articles. Later on, Marconi will claim that he had not read Tesla's articles, despite that they were translated in many languages very quickly.

1897 First patent registered by Nikola Tesla on radio communication, Patent No. 645576.

1898 Tesla constructs the first remotely controlled boat and demonstrates it in New York. He registers this invention under Patent No. 613809.

1899 Tesla builds a large radio station in Colorado Springs, USA and starts his experiments. His observations are noted in his diary.

1900 Marconi starts selling his radio apparatus. Tesla says he wants to sue him.

1901 Tesla begins the construction of a huge radio station in Wanderclyffe, near New York. This station, Tesla's biggest dream, would transmit electric signals and energy to the whole planet. It was never completed, due to lack of financial means. The same year, Marconi transmits his first message over the Atlantic. The world was impressed, but did not learn that Marconi was only using Tesla's Patent No. 645576 (1897).

1916 Marconi starts exploiting the rights of his supposed invention, considering himself, and not Tesla, the patent holder.

1917 In an article in "Electrical Experimenter" Tesla announces a system to locate metallic objects through radio signal reflection. This is the beginning of the radar.

1943 Nine months after Tesla's death, the Supreme Patent Court of the USA decides that Nikola Tesla must be considered the father of wireless transmission and radio. Justifying its decision the court notes that in Marconi's related Patent (No. 763772 of 1904) there is nothing new not having been earlier published and registered by Tesla. The Court considered Marconi's claim that he did not knew of Tesla's patents false.


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