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Edouard Branly

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Dr. Édouard Branly (1844-1940)

Dr. Édouard Eugène Désiré Branly (1844-1940) was a French inventor and physicist who became a notable pioneer of wireless towards the end of the nineteenth century. His development, around 1890, of the first "coherer" (an early radio wave detector) was a crucial step in the development of practical wireless telegraphy.

Born in Amiens, 23rd October 1844.

Educated at St. Quentin College and at Henry IV College, Paris.

Fellow of the University, Doctor of Physical Science, and Doctor of Medicine.

Made Officer of Légion d'Honneur, in recognition of the part he had played in connection with the discovery of "Wireless Telegraphy."

Elected a member of the Academy of Science, Paris, January, 1911.

Died 24th March 1940.


1940 Obituary [1]

The Late Edouard Branly.
The death of Edouard Branly in Paris on Sunday, March 25th, in his 96th year, closes a long career of useful investigation in the electro-mechanical and physical sciences that continued until the end of his life. The son of a professor and born at Amiens in 1844, he prepared to follow his father's calling and studied natural and physical sciences as well as medicine. In 1875 Branly was appointed professor of physical science at the newly created Catholic Institute in Paris where he remained to carry on work in his laboratory for the rest of his life. It was about 1888, that the experiments of Hertz awakened interest in wireless transmission, although in 1879 Hughes discovered that a microphone was sensitive to electrical disturbances, and five years later Calzecchi-Onesti showed that metal filings enclosed in a tube between two electrodes became a conductor under the effect of an electromotive force induced by a rupture of current. Branly developed the metal filing tube, and in 1890 he presented to the Académie des Sciences a full account of his experiments with a transmitter and receiver which marked the first practical stage in wireless transmission. Then followed Lodge with an adaptation of Hertzian oscillators to a modified Branly tube, and then Marconi, who, after his first radio communication between Dover and Boulogne in 1899, sent a telegram to Branly acknowledging his indebtedness to his French precursor. While always working in his laboratory at the Catholic Institute and contributing largely to electromechanical and physiological investigations, Branly is commonly associated almost entirely with his coherer, which has acquired for him in France the name of the "Father of Wireless." An extremely modest man, he was engrossed in his work and took no credit for his achievements. Branly was constantly in his laboratory with his assistants, and on the outbreak of the war he was removed to the provinces, but was allowed to return to Paris and continue his work at the laboratory, this time alone, until he was laid up with an illness induced by the severe weather, from which he did not recover. Branly was decorated with the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honour and was accorded a national funeral.


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