Fessenden, Reginald

Fessenden, Reginald (Aubrey)

(1866–1932) engineer, inventor; born in East Bolton, Quebec, Canada. A clergyman's son, educated in Canada, he met Thomas Edison in New York in 1886 and became his chief chemist. As an electrical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh (1893–1900), Fessenden carried out important early research in radio communication. His invention of amplitude modulation enabled him to broadcast what is regarded as the first radio program, speech and music, from a transmitter at Brant Rock, Mass., on Christmas Eve, 1906. Some of his other inventions contributed to telegraphy, the radio, sonic depth finding, and the radio compass. Long interested in the classics, he published a study of the origins of myth, The Deluged Civilizations of the Caucasus (1923).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.