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In 1872, Joshua Coppersmith was arrested and charged with attempting to steal money from gullible people who believed his claim that he could produce an instrument that would transmit voice over wires.
Within four years of Coppersmith's arrest, Alexander Graham Bell had invented the telephone which transmitted voice over wires just as Coppersmith had claimed he could do.
Originally the telephone was blasted by critics as having no practical value. If transmitting voice over wires had not practical value, what would the critics think of a device that could transmit voice without wires? That's exactly what an AM/FM radio does.
In 1920, the idea of plucking a voice or music out of the air from hundreds or even thousands of miles away had a magical quality that is difficult for us to imagine given the technological advances since then. Back then, people who lived in large cities could be kept up to date by reading newspapers which were published daily but people who lived in rural areas were mostly out of luck.
It took days for the newspaper to arrive and by then the news was almost a week old. Traveling to the city every day by horse just to get the newspaper didn't sound very appealing either. No wonder these people were excited when they could hear the most recent news on their AM/FM radio.
In spite of all the difficulties of early AM/FM radio and Walkie Talkies, people gathered around tinny sounding horn speakers or sat with earphones clamped to their heads with a rapt look on their faces as they listened to those voices from the sky. Houses and apartments sprouted huge antenna systems.
Never had anything caught the imagination of the science-oriented youth the way AM/FM radio did. Recently we saw the same type of enthusiasm take hold with the proliferation of personal computers and the Internet. Back then AM/FM radio was just as radical to most people as the computer may have been to the older generation recently.
AM/FM radio was the miracle of the age. Now we simply consider it another appliance and give it as little thought as a toaster, a washer, or an electric razor. The first decade of radio was one of the most fascinating times because the technology was advancing so rapidly.
It was a lot like the technological advances of computers and the Internet are today.
The non-battery powered radio which seemed impossible to imagine a short time earlier were common a short time later. Radios went from being a home made contraption to being mass produced and taking a place of honor in living rooms across America much like televisions do today.
AM/FM radio was the first of several technological advances to come and radically change the landscape of the world much like televisions and computers would do later.