Book Review

History of Wireless
By T. K. Sarkar, R. J. Mailloux, A. A. Oliner, M. Salazar-Palma, and D. L. Sengupta (with contributions from another fourteen authors)
JohnWiley & Sons, 2006
(675 pages)

The Preface of this book starts by quoting A. Comte: “One does not know completely a science as long as one does not know its history.” Several other interesting quotations are given, from which one may be highlighted due to N. Webster: “History is a narrative of events in the order in which they happened with their causes and effects. A narrative (story) is very different from an annal (a summary listing of dates, events, and definitions). Narrative stories should be used for teaching history if the student is to gain any understanding. Annals are best used for a summary review by one who has already learned the stories as annals summaries relate the facts and events of each year, in direct chronological order, … ”
In this 675-page book, the authors have followed the two paths suggested by Webster. The first two chapters provide the annals of wireless, whereas the remaining chapters are narratives of its history. The reason for using the word “Wireless” can be found in the explanation given by J. D. Kraus and R. J. Marhefka: “After Heinrich Hertz first demonstrated radiation from antennas, it was called wireless. And wireless it was until broadcasting began around 1920 and the word radio was introduced. Now wireless is back to describe the many systems that operate without wires …”
This is a book written by a total of nineteen wireless specialists who are working in that field and are writing its history. After the chronology of the developments in magnetism, electricity (including some unknown facts like the Baghdad battery, dated 250 BC) and light, up to the time of J. C. Maxwell, the first chapter focuses on Maxwell and gives a lively account of who he was and what he actually did. Through the pages of this chapter the reader will discover that even if Maxwell had not contributed to electromagnetics (the physical basis of wireless) as he did, he would still have been one of the greatest scientists of the world: he contributed to optics and ophthalmology, to astronomy, to the kinetic theory of gases - laying the ground work for statistical mechanics, to establishing the modern set of units, to negative feedback, to control systems, to the theory of heat, to topology, etc. His work even helped the creation of information theory. The first chapter ends with an excellent explanation of Maxwell’s contributions to electromagnetic theory, which should be of special interest to the members of the EMC Society.
In the second chapter, together with the work of other well-known pioneers in electromagnetics, the reader will discover the contributions of unknown individuals like Nathan B. Stubblefield (who transmitted human voice without wires in 1882 and was granted several patents for it!), Antonio Meucci, and so on. The fascinating controversy about the discoverer of radio (was it G. Marconi, J. C. Bose, N. Tesla, A. S. Popov, R. A. Fessenden, or any other?) is presented through facts and dates. The chronology goes up to 1990, since to write history one needs to keep some distance on time.
The next three chapters describe in detail the evolution of Continental Europe and British electromagnetics ending with Maxwell, the genesis of his equations, and how his followers redeveloped Maxwell’s theory and made it understandable to a broader audience. It is interesting to note that the four equations that we use today were not originally developed by Maxwell, but by H. R. Hertz and T. Heaviside.
The next five chapters are devoted to the history of Heaviside’s work, the scientific accomplishments in wireless before Marconi, the fascinating history of Tesla (who holds the first patent for radio in the US), the astonishing millimeter-wave wireless experiments of Bose in Kolkata, India (which included its generation, the development of horn antennas, circular waveguides, and a number of artifacts still in use), and, finally, J. A. Fleming’s contributions to wireless.
The reader will also learn in the next chapter about the many contributions of German scientists, including Hertz, K. F. Braun, R. von Lieben, H. Barkhausen, and others not so well known.
Chapter 12 is really interesting. The authors focus on the technologies used during the first decade of the twentieth century for wireless telegraphy and telephony communications, and to give credit where credit is due, with emphasis on long distance (transatlantic) communications, making the case for R. A. Fessenden.
The next three chapters offer the reader new and interesting facts related to the history in South Africa, Japan, and the Soviet Union about wireless communications, antennas, and quasi-optics wavelengths, etc.
Finally, Chapters 16 and 17 deal with the evolution of waveguides and phased array antennas, this last topic being extremely close to the state-of-the-art in wireless technology today, where one of the fundamental topics is space diversity.
In summary, History of Wireless is an interesting and thorough account of how the various components and wireless systems evolved and their authors. It is a valuable book for a broad scientific audience and, in particular, for those scientists and engineers in the field.
This book on the history of wireless is especially timely on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the EMC Society and the review of its history based on the work of Maxwell. EMC
(Note: Some of this material will be interspersed in the Plenary and History Sessions at the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on EMC. In particular, Dr. Sarkar will provide a presentation on Maxwell and his contributions to the science of EMC during the Plenary Session at the symposium.)

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