In 1971, an American journalist discovered a phenomenon he called the “Popov effect.” After looking into a dozen national encyclopedias, the journalist found out that each country had its own radio inventor: Ferdinand Braun in Germany, Edouard Branly in France, Nicola Tesla in Yugoslavia, Alexander Popov in Russia. Standing out was the Italian Guglielmo Marconi – if anything, his discovery was rewarded with the Nobel Prize.
Guglielmo started his experiments with radio as a student, in his father’s country home near Bologna. His brother Alfonso ran through the fields with a receiver and a white flag which he waved to confirm the reception of signal. Then he armed himself with a shotgun and hid behind a mountain. A shot meaning that the signal was received was thus the announcement of the birth of a new communication system. The public was agitated at first, believing that the radio would kill people by destroying nerves and disrupting sleep. But then they have got used to it and started sending out “Marconigrams.” So the inventor’s mother was right when she replied to an English customs officer asking whether she had a bomb in her luggage: “Yes, it’s a bomb! Only it will not destroy the world, it will shatter its walls.” The customs officer failed to understand anything and destroyed the device for safety’s sake.