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Guglielmo Marconi: Application of Radio Waves to Communication, 1918

Established Industry

Wireless telegraphy was now an established industry with Marconi's companies becoming profitable and the associated factors of commerce—competition and litigation—taking Marconi's time away from invention. Outstanding patent disputes were resolved and ongoing disagreements with the German company, Telefunken, were settled just months before the outbreak of World War I.

As an Italian citizen, Marconi remained in England in 1914 but returned to Italy in 1915 to wartime service in the army, navy, and ultimately, the diplomatic corps. After the war, in 1919, Marconi purchased a large steam yacht, the Elettra, which became his laboratory and a floating home. His newest topics were the possibilities of short-wave radio, sonar detection, and microwave transmission. His faltering marriage finally ended in 1924 and in 1927 he married the much younger Maria Cristina Bazzi-Scali, a descendent of Vatican aristocracy. His third daughter, Elettra, was born in July 1930.

Illness struck Marconi in 1927 with his first of four heart attacks that kept him weak and confined to care in Rome for a number of years. Recovering in 1933, Marconi took a round-the-world trip with his wife and at every stop found himself celebrated and honored.

His dedication to his work—on microwaves, "blind" navigation, and the promise of radar—continued until his death. He died in Rome on July 20, 1937. On July 21, the day of his funeral, radio operation throughout the world was silent for two minutes to honor its foremost inventor.