Today in Radio History

January 26, 2015

To know where you're going you have to know where you've been. The history of radio broadcasting is interesting and extends beyond the work of Tesla, Marconi and Armstrong. It includes advances in audio, telephony, satellites, physics, electronics, computers and more. Follow some of these milestones with this handy reference of important dates from radio's past.

This list is by no means complete. If you would like to suggest an event to add, tell us at include a reference for the historical information if possible.

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December | Stations

1, 1902 Nathan Stubblefied demonstrates natural conduction telephone in Murray, KY
1, 1983ARPANET switches from NCP to TCP/IP
1, 1997EAS rules go into effect
3, 1929Paley incorporates Columbia Broadcast System
3, 1983Time magazine names the computer the "Machine of the Year"
4, 1923WEAF and WNAC conduct first wired simulcast
5, 1932The Shadow debuts on CBS
5, 1940Armstrong demonstrates FM to the FCC
5, 1979FCC eliminates Third Class operator requirement for stations
6, 1838Morse Code privately demonstrated
6, 2004First IBOC radio receiver commercially sold. Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
8, 1918President Wilson 14 Points speech aired worldwide
8, 1927Commercial transatlantic telephone service inaugurated between New York and London
8, 1993NRSC OKs RBDS standard
9, 1943Nicola Tesla dies
9, 1958John Tukey coins term "software" in American Mathematical Monthly
10, 1987NRSC-1 goes into effect to establish AM emphasis/de-emphasis curves
12, 1949Claude Shannon proves mathematics of Nyquist Theorem.
12, 1995FCC designates 2.31 to 2.36GHz for S-DARS use
18, 1983First GUI/mouse computer, the Apple Lisa, unveiled.
19, 1943FCC endorses Restricted Radio Operator Permits
20, 1920Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for magnetic amplifier
20, 1965DJ Alan Freed, credited with coining the term "rock and roll" dies (Some claim Jan. 20 to be DJ Appreciation Day)
20, 2000FCC creates LPFM
24, 1984Apple introduces the Macintosh 128K
25, 1915The first Intercontinental telephone call
25, 1964USA launches second communications satellite, Echo 2
31, 1958U.S. launches its first satellite, Explorer I
1, 194945 rpm discs are introduced by RCA Victor
2, 1982Intel intros 80286 processor
2, 2009WODS-FM Boston launches 1,000th HD Radio multicast stream.
5, 1916Alexanderson successfully tests multiple tuned antenna
6, 1929RCA Victor formed.
7, 1915First train-to-station radio message, Binghamton, NY
7, 1958Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is formed
8, 1996Telecommunications Act deregulates ownership
9, 1934FCC grants 500kW license to WLW for W8XO
14, 1946First ENIAC computer demonstration
17, 1947VOA begins transmissions to Soviet Union
19, 1878Edison receives patent for phonograph
19, 1975Harris introduces the first solid-state radio transmitter
22, 1857Heinrich Hertz born in Hamburg, Germany
22, 1916Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for a selective tuning system
23, 1927President Calvin Coolidge signs Public Law 632, the Radio Act of 1927, to create the Federal Radio Commission
24, 1942VOA begins operations from New York City
26, 1934President F.D. Roosevelt urges Congress to create the Federal Communications Commission
1, 1949First 45 rpm record issued by RCA: Texarkana Baby by Eddy Arnold
1, 1972Intel introduces 8008 processor
2, 1897Marconi granted first wireless patent
3, 1843President Tyler signs Telegraph Appropriation Bill.
4, 1910DeForest experimental radio broadcast from Met, NY
4, 1925First radio Presidential inauguration (Coolidge)
4, 1982FCC allows industry to select AM stereo standard
5, 1927Federal Radio Commission holds first meeting
5, 1998Digital Radio Mondiale forms in China
7, 1876Bell receives U.S. patent for telephone
8, 1979Audio Compact Disc prototype is first demonstrated
10, 1876Bell successfully transmits by telephone
10, 1922'Radio Sweeping Country-Million Sets in Use' is the headline in Variety
11, 1948Audio Engineering Society founded in New York City
12, 1933President Franklin Roosevelt gives first radio Fireside Chat
15,1679Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz describes binary numbering
17, 1990ARPANET ceases to exist.
19, 1918Standard Time Act establishes Standard and Daylight time in the U.S.
19, 1928Amos n' Andy debuts on WMAQ, Chicago
20, 1902Nathan Stubblefield demonstrates ship-to-shore broadcast to multiple receivers in Washington, DC
21, 1952Alan Freed hosts first rock concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, at the ClevelandArena
22, 1993Intel intros Pentium processor
26, 1975The first Altair 8800 personal computer ships
27, 1899Marconi transmits across English Channel
2, 1974Intel intros 8080 processor
2, 1997FCC auctions first S-DARS licenses to CD Radio and American Mobile Radio Corp.
5, 1964First official SBE meeting held in Chicago
6, 1875Bell granted patent for multiple telegraph
8, 1948Ampex delivers first audio tape recorder, the Model 200, to Bing Crosby Enterprises.
9, 1860Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invents the phonautogram to record sound
10, 1989Intel intros 486 processor family
14, 1983Society of Broadcast Engineers holds first national frequency cooridinators meeting at KLAS-TV, Las Vegas
16, 2005NRSC adopts NRSC-4 (United States RBDS) and NRSC-5 (United Sates IBOC) standards
17, 1934WLW licensed to operate at 500kW
19, 1928Harry Nyquist publishes Nyquist Sampling Theorem
19, 1965Gordon Moore describes Moore's Law
20, 1961FCC authorizes FM stereo standard
22, 1993Mosaic, the first Web browser, is released
25, 1874Guglielmo Marconi born
27, 1791Samuel Morse born
2, 1934WLW begins operation with 500kW transmitter
3, 1971All Things Considered debuts
4, 1920RCA holds first meeting
6, 1937WLS-AM reporter Herb Morrison describes fiery disaster of zeppelin Hindenburg ("Oh, the humanity!") at Lakehurst, NJ.
9, 1932WFLA/WSUN, Clearwater, FL, tests first directional antenna in the U.S.
11, 1998Lucent Digital Radio created
12, 1908Stubblefield granted patent 887,57 for wireless telephone (conduction system)
12, 1941Konrad Zuse displays the Z3 program-controlled (freely programmable) computer
15, 2001XM Satellite Radio completes satellite system
16, 1946Jack Mullin demonstrates Magnetophon at Institute of Radio Engineers convention
20, 1901Fessenden applies for high-frequency dynamo patent
22, 1990Microsoft releases Windows 3.0
24, 1844Morse telegraphs, "What hath God wrought?" from Washington to Baltimore
26, 1903Fessenden granted patent for the liquid barretter microphone
1, 1961FM stereo begins use
1, 1979Intel intros 8088 processor
1, 1988NRSC-2 goes into effect to establish AM transmission mask
2, 1896Marconi files full specs for first wireless patent
7, 1932FCC issues CP for WLW to build W8XO for 500kW
8, 1978Intel intros 8086 processor
14, 1922WEAR, Baltimore, broadcasts President Harding's speech at the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial, the first time a U.S. president has been broadcast live.
14, 1983Docket 80-90 creates new FM stations
15, 1945NBC Blue Network becomes the American Broadcasting Company
16, 1934Armstrong transmits FM signal 70 miles from Empire State Building to Long Island
19, 1934Communications Act of 1934 creates Federal Communications Commission
20, 194833-1/3 rpm discs are introduced by Columbia
23, 1891Tesla granted patent 454,622: coupled tuned circuit radio-frequency oscillator
24, 1910Public Law 262, titled "Act to require apparatus and operators for radio communication on certain ocean steamers," requires Commerce Dept. to license radio operators for ocean-going ships
29, 1904Edison receives patent for alkaline battery
1, 1911Radio Division of Department of Commerce created
1, 1920GE and AT&T sign cross-license agreement
1, 1923WMAF and WEAF create first network
1, 1934Federal Communications Commission replaces Federal Radio Commission
1, 2002Sirius Satellite Radio begins service
4, 1970Casey Kasem first hosts American Top 40
9, 1879Bell Telephone Company founded
9, 1992First AM HD Radio transmission (on 1660 from Xetron, Cincinnati)
10, 1856Nicola Tesla born
10, 1962Telstar 1 launched
12, 2000USA Digital Radio and Lucent Digital Radio merge to form Ibiquity Digital
14, 1995Fraunhofer picks ".MP3" to be file extension of MPEG Layer III audio files
16, 1961Leonard Kleinrock publishes concept of packet switching.
17, 1934FCC adopts Order No. 1
20, 1897The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company is founded in England
20, 1937Marconi dies
24, 1939The first experimental FM stations go on the air
27, 1940Billboard publishes first recorded music sales chart
31, 2001ABC ends DAT/SEDAT satellite transmission
1, 1981MTV begins operations; first video aired: The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star
5, 1921KDKA Pittsburgh broadcasts first baseball game
6, 2009DAB+ commences in Australia
7, 1981FCC establishes General Radiotelephone Operator License, ceases issuing First and Second Class Operator licenses.
8, 1991Tim Berners-Lee posts first HTML Web page
11, 1942Actress Hedy Lamarr (Hedy Kiesler Markey) and composer George Anthiel receive U.S. patent for spread-spectrum-frequency-hopping system
12, 1877Edison invents phonograph
12, 1902Fessenden granted patent for hot-wire barretter
12, 1960USA launches Echo 1, first communications satellite
12, 1981IBM introduces PC with MS-DOS
13, 1912Radio Act of 1912, titled An Act to Regulate Radio Communication, is approved
14, 1967UK government's The Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Act comes into force, closing down most offshore radio stations.
15, 1794First semaphore-telegraph announces victory of France overAustria
17, 1982First audio CDs are manufactured (a recording of Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony)
18, 1937FCC issues first FM construction permit to W1XOJ, Boston. Station signs on in 1941 as WGTR.
27, 1910James McCurdy sends first aircraft-to-ground wireless message
28, 1922WEAF New York airs first commercial ("This program brought to you by...")
2, 1969Internet forerunner ARPAnet begins operation
9, 1958Stereo records and phonographs introduced.
11, 2001Terrorist attack on New York City silences four FM and nine TV stations
12, 1958Kilby and Noyce unveil first integrated circuit
12, 2001XM Satellite Radio begins broadcasting
13, 1956IBM RAMAC 305 computer hard drive (IBM 350 disk storage unit) developed
14, 2007FCC allows AM IBOC operation at night (MM Docket 99-325)
15, 1921Westinghouse's WBZ, Springfield, MA, receives broadcast license
15, 1934Mutual Broadcast System forms
15, 19658-track players marketed
17, 1995BBC begins Eureka-147 DAB broadcasts
18, 2006WIYY-FM, Baltimore, becomes the 1,000th station to commence HD Radio transmissions
20, 1956First multistage rocket, the Jupiter C, launched
21, 1994First mobile AM HD Radio reception; transmitted from Xetron, Cincinnati over a distance of about 6 miles
22, 1899DeForest seeks employment with Marconi
29, 1926NBC incorporated
29, 1936First use of radio broadcasts for a US presidential campaign
29, 1992First FM HD Radio broadcast: WILL-FM, Urbana, IL
1, 1982First CD players are sold in Japan
2, 1995FCC eliminates licensed operator requirements
3, 1938Alec Reeves patents Pulse Code Modulation (French Patent 852,153 filed Oct. 3, 1938)
3, 1942First successful rocket launch starts space age
3, 1837Morse files a caveat on the telegraph with U.S. Patent Office
4, 1957Sputnik is launched
4, 1983President Reagan signs Radio Marti into law
5, 1921First baseball World Series game broadcast on radio
7, 1957American Bandstand premiers
7, 1970Intel introduces computer memory chip.
15, 1990NRSC-3, recommendations for AM receiver specifications, is adopted
17, 1985Intel intros 386 processor family
17, 1919RCA established
23, 2001Apple introduces Ipod
27, 1920KDKA granted broadcast license
30, 1745Invention of the Leyden jar (the first capacitor) by Dean Ewald Jurgen von Kleist of the Cathedral of Cammin
30, 1938Radio Mercury Theater performs The War of the Worlds; panics listeners
1, 1926NBC begins operations
1, 1987Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
1, 2006NPR launches Content Depot
2, 1920KDKA broadcasts election results.
2, 1920The first radio receivers sold
4, 1916Sarnoff proposes "radio music box" for radio reception
10, 1992First AM HD Radio broadcast with audio codec
13, 1906de Forest patents Audion tube
13, 1975SBE adopts Certification Program
14, 1911Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for the high-frequency alternator, a 100kHz mechanical alternator
14, 1994FCC adopts EAS rules
15, 1896Niagara Falls electric power station connects to power grid with first long-distance power transmission
15, 1899Transatlantic Times receives first news by wireless
15, 1926NBC makes its first network broadcast
15, 1971Intel intros 4004 processor
15, 1985Microsoft intros Windows 1.0
16, 1904Fleming patents thermionic tube (diode tube)
18, 1883Railroads introduce four standard time zones in the U.S.
19, 1954First mass-market transistor pocket radio introduced, the Regency TR-1.
22, 1899Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America registered
23, 1993FCC makes C-QUAM AM stereo standard
24, 1890Edouard Branley coins the term (radioconductor"); the first use of the word "radio"
28, 1925The WSM Barn Dance (later renamed The Grand Ole Opry) debuts on WSM, Nashville
29, 1929NBC begins use of the chimes
1, 1995FCC eliminates Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit requirement to operate a broadcast station
6, 1923President Coolidge makes the first presidential address on U.S. radio
7, 1938The St. Louis Dispatch begins a two-year experiment to deliver newspapers by radio facsimile, first transmission via W9XZY
9, 1968Douglas Engelbart demonstrates the computer mouse
12, 1901Marconi receives first trans-Atlantic wireless signal
12, 1960Laser invented
14, 1877Ernst Werner von Siemens patents the first loudspeaker
15, 1961John Battison calls for Institute of Broadcast Engineers in Broadcast Engineering editorial
16, 1925Dynamic loudspeaker is designed by Chester Rice and Edward Kellogg.
18, 1958U.S. launches SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment) to transmit radio message from President Eisenhower, effectively becoming the first communications satellite
20, 1991USA Digital Radio created
22, 2000Sirius Satellite Radio completes satellite system
24, 1898First ship-to-shore message sent
24, 1906Fessenden transmits first distant voice/music broadcast
27, 1947Bell Labs invents transistor

Station Histories

We receive lots of inquiries asking when stations originally signed on the air. Help us build this list with historic stations and call signs.

StationSign-on DateNotes
WSM-AM, NashvilleOct 5, 1925
WSRS-FM, Worcester, MAJun 17, 1940Was W1XTG, 43.4MHz

The following events carry significance for radio, but we have not yet found a specific date on which to cite the event. If you canprovide a date, please let us know at

FCC adopts ATS rules for FM and ND AM

FCC adopts ATS rules for all stations

1822 or 1827
Charles Wheatstone coins the term "microphone"

Term "bit" for binary digit is used for first time by John Tukey. Heworked for Bell Labs

The term "byte" is first used in by German-born American computer scientist Werner Buchholz
Source: Letter from Bucholz to Radio magazine. He could not provide an exact date.

Info about error correction codes first published

Dutch physicist Klass Compaan comes up with idea for CD

Digital Audio Disc Committee accepts CD standard

78 rpm (specifically 78.26) designated as standard speed (previously, speeds could range from 78 to 80)

VU meter standard established by CBS, NBC and the Bell Telephone Company.

PPM designed

I.G. Farben creates magnetic tape: iron oxide on plastic film

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