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Wireless Telegraph

Reginald Fessenden is credited to have been the first to transmit wireless telegraphy by tones over a 50 mile path between Buxton, NC (Cape Hatteras) and Manteo, NC (Roanoke Island) in the year 1902. Historic road signs telling of his accomplishment at both Buxton and Manteo. Fessenden, isolated himself from the world for two years in at the time an exceptionally remote corner of the seacoast to conduct his wireless telegraph experiments. He was working for the United States Government in the Weather Bureau during this time period. US Naval officials were brought in to observe and were duly impressed. This system made an astronomical leap in distributing Weather Bureau signals and in obtaining data for making forecasts. Fessenden sent the transmissions between two fifty foot high towers he had built. Eventually sending telegraphy across the Ocean to Europe, he was a leader in the race to perfect wireless communication which was the forerunner of today's AM radio.

Being that the area was so very remote, you were likely to know your neighbors and while Fessenden was in Manteo, he became close lifetime friends with two other entrepreneurs who were inventors as well. The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were experimenting with gliders in nearby Kill Devil Hills in preparation for their powered flight experiments. One year later, they too would become world renown.

Sadly enough much of the public knows the name Marconi as the "Father of Radio." However, few know that a year earlier, on December 23, 1900, an even more prolific technologist first transmitted human speech by radio. That person was Reginald Fessenden and he did it right here on the North Carolina Outer Banks.

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