Not long after telegraph and telephone lines were strung across the U.S, the wireless telegraph was invented by Guglielmo Marconi. His two-way radio broadcast transmitted telegraph signals long distances without any wires.
Marconi recognized the disruptive potential of his new invention and sought out investors in England to fund his new venture. The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company was formed in 1897.
A similar story played out across the pond in Chicago. Lee De Forest, fresh out of Yale, took a job as a laboratory assistant. De Forest joined Edwin Smythe and Clarence Freeman to help build their own wireless apparatus. In 1901, they successfully sent a communication to a yacht five miles off the coast of Lake Michigan.
The three quickly realized the business potential. All they needed was capital. So De Forest traveled to New York to find investors and form a company. He found Henry Snyder, a promoter, who scrounged up $3,000 from five investors and incorporated the Wireless Telegraph Company of America in New Jersey.
But it was Abraham White who changed the fate of their company forever. White was a self-made speculator who once made $100,000 on a 44-cent gamble. White immediately saw the potential of wireless technology to enrich himself and cooked up a scheme to make it possible: Continue Reading…