To be alive during the late 19th century would have been positively electric. Maxwell was codifying theories, Edison and Tesla were duking it out over currents, and Faraday had a shocking obsession with cages. All the while, a German man by the name Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was laying the groundwork for what would become wireless transmission by radio. That name should ring a bell. The term “hertz” is used today when discussing cycles per second, or frequency, as a scientific unit.
Hertz’s eponymous standard notwithstanding, early radio transmissions were broadcast using amplitude modulation (the “AM” in AM radio). From Herbert Morrison’s, “Oh, the humanity!” to Orson Welles’ infamous “War of the Worlds,” these are the nostalgia-inducing broadcasts we still hear from time to time. As radio technology continued to develop, frequency modulation (the “FM” in FM radio) overtook amplitude modulation as the modus operandi for commercial broadcasts and remains one of the most prevalent means of delivering top 40 hits to people all over the world.
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