Friday, March 28, 2014

Roberto Landell de Moura

Roberto Landell de Moura is mostly forgotten, but belongs in the pantheon with Marconi, Nikola Tesla and Nathan Stufflefield. He publicly demonstrated a radio broadcast of a human voice on June 3rd, 1900. You will note that this significantly predates Reginald Fessenden's claim of doing the same on Christmas Eve of 1906. 

Born in 1861, Roberto Landell de Moura in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. He was educated in Jesuit schools. He attended Colégio Pio Americano in Brazil and also the Pontifical Universidade Gregoriana in Italy, to study Physics. e was ordained to the priesthood in 1886 in Rome and was shipped back to Brazil.

According to the newspaper Jornal do Comercio of June 10th, 1900, Robert had conducted his first public experiment on June 3rd, 1900, in São Paulo. The transmission was sent approximately 8 kilometers. He followed up that feat with his first wireless transmitter in 1892. The Brazilian government granted him patent number 3279 for  "...equipment for the purpose of phonetic transmissions through space, land and water elements at a distance with or without the use of wires, through space, earth and water."  Landell de Moura described it himself with a little more flourish:

"The Anematophone is a wireless device which has the same effects of regular telephony, but with added clearness and safety, as it works even under wind and bad weather. This device is impressive by the entirely new laws it reveals to us, likewise, what follows: The Teletition, a kind of wireless phonetic telegraphy, which two people can use to communicate with each other without being heard by anyone else. I believe that with this system of mine we could transmit electric energy, through great distances and with a lot of economy, without the need of wires or conductor cables."

De Moura got a few more wireless patents in Brazil and then in 1901 left for the US with the intent of repeating the process.  He managed to get four: the Wave Transmitter, "the Wireless Telephone", and the "Wireless Telegraph" all dating to 1902. That wireless telegraph employs a Crookes tube and by all appearances would work. He returned to Brazil in 1905. Later that year unappreciated at home and abroad he returned exclusively to the priesthood. He died in 1928. More here and here.