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Magnetic Detector, by Marconi Company, London, Early 20th Century

Inventory Number: 18119

Number of documents: 1

Document Type: Miscellaneous Note

Document Heading: Magnetic Detector


The Magnetic Detector was one of the first practical devices able to make radio signals audible through a pair of earphones. Marconi's Magnetic Detector was first patented in 1902; it was an important advance and more sensitive than the coherer. It was the standard form of detector for the reception of spark telegraphic signals between 1903 and 1918 in both ship and shore installations until it was gradually superseded by the crystal and later by the valve.

The magnetic detector consisted of a soft-iron band, moving by clockwork at a uniform rate of 8 centimetres per second, through a tube and past permanent magnets. The tube carried a primary winding connected to the aerial circuit and a secondary winding connected to the headphones. When a signal was received from a spark transmitter in the primary winding, this affected the magnetism which was induced in the iron band as it entered the tube. This variation of magnetism induced a current in the secondary winding and hence clicks were heard in the headphones.

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