Today in Radio History

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To know where you're going you have to know where you've been. The history of radio broadcasting is interesting and extends beyond the work of Tesla, Marconi and Armstrong. It includes advances in audio, telephony, satellites, physics, electronics, computers and more. Follow some of these milestones with this handy reference of important dates from radio's past.

This list is by no means complete. If you would like to suggest an event to add, tell us at Please include a reference for the historical information if possible.

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December | Stations

1, 1902 Nathan Stubblefied demonstrates natural conduction telephone in Murray, KY
1, 1983 ARPANET switches from NCP to TCP/IP
1, 1997 EAS rules go into effect
3, 1929 Paley incorporates Columbia Broadcast System
3, 1983 Time magazine names the computer the "Machine of the Year"
4, 1923 WEAF and WNAC conduct first wired simulcast
5, 1932 The Shadow debuts on CBS
5, 1940 Armstrong demonstrates FM to the FCC
5, 1979 FCC eliminates Third Class operator requirement for stations
6, 1838 Morse Code privately demonstrated
6, 2004 First IBOC radio receiver commercially sold. Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
8, 1918 President Wilson 14 Points speech aired worldwide
8, 1927 Commercial transatlantic telephone service inaugurated between New York and London
8, 1993 NRSC OKs RBDS standard
9, 1943 Nicola Tesla dies
9, 1958 John Tukey coins term "software" in American Mathematical Monthly
10, 1987 NRSC-1 goes into effect to establish AM emphasis/de-emphasis curves
12, 1949 Claude Shannon proves mathematics of Nyquist Theorem.
12, 1995 FCC designates 2.31 to 2.36GHz for S-DARS use
18, 1983 First GUI/mouse computer, the Apple Lisa, unveiled.
19, 1943 FCC endorses Restricted Radio Operator Permits
20, 1920 Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for magnetic amplifier
20, 1965 DJ Alan Freed, credited with coining the term "rock and roll" dies (Some claim Jan. 20 to be DJ Appreciation Day)
20, 2000 FCC creates LPFM
24, 1984 Apple introduces the Macintosh 128K
25, 1915 The first Intercontinental telephone call
25, 1964 USA launches second communications satellite, Echo 2
31, 1958 U.S. launches its first satellite, Explorer I
1, 1949 45 rpm discs are introduced by RCA Victor
2, 1982 Intel intros 80286 processor
2, 2009 WODS-FM Boston launches 1,000th HD Radio multicast stream.
5, 1916 Alexanderson successfully tests multiple tuned antenna
6, 1929 RCA Victor formed.
7, 1915 First train-to-station radio message, Binghamton, NY
7, 1958 Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is formed
8, 1996 Telecommunications Act deregulates ownership
9, 1934 FCC grants 500kW license to WLW for W8XO
14, 1946 First ENIAC computer demonstration
17, 1947 VOA begins transmissions to Soviet Union
19, 1878 Edison receives patent for phonograph
19, 1975 Harris introduces the first solid-state radio transmitter
22, 1857 Heinrich Hertz born in Hamburg, Germany
22, 1916 Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for a selective tuning system
23, 1927 President Calvin Coolidge signs Public Law 632, the Radio Act of 1927, to create the Federal Radio Commission
24, 1942 VOA begins operations from New York City
26, 1934 President F.D. Roosevelt urges Congress to create the Federal Communications Commission
1, 1949 First 45 rpm record issued by RCA: Texarkana Baby by Eddy Arnold
1, 1972 Intel introduces 8008 processor
2, 1897 Marconi granted first wireless patent
3, 1843 President Tyler signs Telegraph Appropriation Bill.
4, 1910 DeForest experimental radio broadcast from Met, NY
4, 1925 First radio Presidential inauguration (Coolidge)
4, 1982 FCC allows industry to select AM stereo standard
5, 1927 Federal Radio Commission holds first meeting
5, 1998 Digital Radio Mondiale forms in China
7, 1876 Bell receives U.S. patent for telephone
8, 1979 Audio Compact Disc prototype is first demonstrated
10, 1876 Bell successfully transmits by telephone
10, 1922 'Radio Sweeping Country-Million Sets in Use' is the headline in Variety
11, 1948 Audio Engineering Society founded in New York City
12, 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt gives first radio Fireside Chat
15, 1679 Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz describes binary numbering
17, 1990 ARPANET ceases to exist.
19, 1918 Standard Time Act establishes Standard and Daylight time in the U.S.
19, 1928 Amos n' Andy debuts on WMAQ, Chicago
20, 1902 Nathan Stubblefield demonstrates ship-to-shore broadcast to multiple receivers in Washington, DC
21, 1952 Alan Freed hosts first rock concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, at the Cleveland Arena
22, 1993 Intel intros Pentium processor
26, 1975 The first Altair 8800 personal computer ships
27, 1899 Marconi transmits across English Channel
2, 1974 Intel intros 8080 processor
2, 1997 FCC auctions first S-DARS licenses to CD Radio and American Mobile Radio Corp.
5, 1964 First official SBE meeting held in Chicago
6, 1875 Bell granted patent for multiple telegraph
8, 1948 Ampex delivers first audio tape recorder, the Model 200, to Bing Crosby Enterprises.
9, 1860 Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invents the phonautogram to record sound
10, 1989 Intel intros 486 processor family
14, 1983 Society of Broadcast Engineers holds first national frequency cooridinators meeting at KLAS-TV, Las Vegas
16, 2005 NRSC adopts NRSC-4 (United States RBDS) and NRSC-5 (United Sates IBOC) standards
17, 1934 WLW licensed to operate at 500kW
19, 1928 Harry Nyquist publishes Nyquist Sampling Theorem
19, 1965 Gordon Moore describes Moore's Law
20, 1961 FCC authorizes FM stereo standard
22, 1993 Mosaic, the first Web browser, is released
25, 1874 Guglielmo Marconi born
27, 1791 Samuel Morse born
2, 1934 WLW begins operation with 500kW transmitter
3, 1971 All Things Considered debuts
4, 1920 RCA holds first meeting
6, 1937 WLS-AM reporter Herb Morrison describes fiery disaster of zeppelin Hindenburg ("Oh, the humanity!") at Lakehurst, NJ.
9, 1932 WFLA/WSUN, Clearwater, FL, tests first directional antenna in the U.S.
11, 1998 Lucent Digital Radio created
12, 1908 Stubblefield granted patent 887,57 for wireless telephone (conduction system)
12, 1941 Konrad Zuse displays the Z3 program-controlled (freely programmable) computer
15, 2001 XM Satellite Radio completes satellite system
16, 1946 Jack Mullin demonstrates Magnetophon at Institute of Radio Engineers convention
20, 1901 Fessenden applies for high-frequency dynamo patent
22, 1990 Microsoft releases Windows 3.0
24, 1844 Morse telegraphs, "What hath God wrought?" from Washington to Baltimore
26, 1903 Fessenden granted patent for the liquid barretter microphone
1, 1961 FM stereo begins use
1, 1979 Intel intros 8088 processor
1, 1988 NRSC-2 goes into effect to establish AM transmission mask
2, 1896 Marconi files full specs for first wireless patent
7, 1932 FCC issues CP for WLW to build W8XO for 500kW
8, 1978 Intel intros 8086 processor
14, 1922 WEAR, Baltimore, broadcasts President Harding's speech at the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial, the first time a U.S. president has been broadcast live.
14, 1983 Docket 80-90 creates new FM stations
15, 1945 NBC Blue Network becomes the American Broadcasting Company
16, 1934 Armstrong transmits FM signal 70 miles from Empire State Building to Long Island
19, 1934 Communications Act of 1934 creates Federal Communications Commission
20, 1948 33-1/3 rpm discs are introduced by Columbia
23, 1891 Tesla granted patent 454,622: coupled tuned circuit radio-frequency oscillator
24, 1910 Public Law 262, titled "Act to require apparatus and operators for radio communication on certain ocean steamers," requires Commerce Dept. to license radio operators for ocean-going ships
29, 1904 Edison receives patent for alkaline battery
1, 1911 Radio Division of Department of Commerce created
1, 1920 GE and AT&T sign cross-license agreement
1, 1923 WMAF and WEAF create first network
1, 1934 Federal Communications Commission replaces Federal Radio Commission
1, 2002 Sirius Satellite Radio begins service
4, 1970 Casey Kasem first hosts American Top 40
9, 1879 Bell Telephone Company founded
9, 1992 First AM HD Radio transmission (on 1660 from Xetron, Cincinnati)
10, 1856 Nicola Tesla born
10, 1962 Telstar 1 launched
12, 2000 USA Digital Radio and Lucent Digital Radio merge to form Ibiquity Digital
14, 1995 Fraunhofer picks ".MP3" to be file extension of MPEG Layer III audio files
16, 1961 Leonard Kleinrock publishes concept of packet switching.
17, 1934 FCC adopts Order No. 1
20, 1897 The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company is founded in England
20, 1937 Marconi dies
24, 1939 The first experimental FM stations go on the air
27, 1940 Billboard publishes first recorded music sales chart
31, 2001 ABC ends DAT/SEDAT satellite transmission
1, 1981 MTV begins operations; first video aired: The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star
5, 1921 KDKA Pittsburgh broadcasts first baseball game
6, 2009 DAB+ commences in Australia
7, 1981 FCC establishes General Radiotelephone Operator License, ceases issuing First and Second Class Operator licenses.
8, 1991 Tim Berners-Lee posts first HTML Web page
11, 1942 Actress Hedy Lamarr (Hedy Kiesler Markey) and composer George Anthiel receive U.S. patent for spread-spectrum-frequency-hopping system
12, 1877 Edison invents phonograph
12, 1902 Fessenden granted patent for hot-wire barretter
12, 1960 USA launches Echo 1, first communications satellite
12, 1981 IBM introduces PC with MS-DOS
13, 1912 Radio Act of 1912, titled An Act to Regulate Radio Communication, is approved
14, 1967 UK government's The Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Act comes into force, closing down most offshore radio stations.
15, 1794 First semaphore-telegraph announces victory of France over Austria
17, 1982 First audio CDs are manufactured (a recording of Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony)
18, 1937 FCC issues first FM construction permit to W1XOJ, Boston. Station signs on in 1941 as WGTR.
27, 1910 James McCurdy sends first aircraft-to-ground wireless message
28, 1922 WEAF New York airs first commercial ("This program brought to you by...")
2, 1969 Internet forerunner ARPAnet begins operation
9, 1958 Stereo records and phonographs introduced.
11, 2001 Terrorist attack on New York City silences four FM and nine TV stations
12, 1958 Kilby and Noyce unveil first integrated circuit
12, 2001 XM Satellite Radio begins broadcasting
13, 1956 IBM RAMAC 305 computer hard drive (IBM 350 disk storage unit) developed
14, 2007 FCC allows AM IBOC operation at night (MM Docket 99-325)
15, 1921 Westinghouse's WBZ, Springfield, MA, receives broadcast license
15, 1934 Mutual Broadcast System forms
15, 1965 8-track players marketed
17, 1995 BBC begins Eureka-147 DAB broadcasts
18, 2006 WIYY-FM, Baltimore, becomes the 1,000th station to commence HD Radio transmissions
20, 1956 First multistage rocket, the Jupiter C, launched
21, 1994 First mobile AM HD Radio reception; transmitted from Xetron, Cincinnati over a distance of about 6 miles
22, 1899 DeForest seeks employment with Marconi
29, 1926 NBC incorporated
29, 1936 First use of radio broadcasts for a US presidential campaign
29, 1992 First FM HD Radio broadcast: WILL-FM, Urbana, IL
1, 1982 First CD players are sold in Japan
2, 1995 FCC eliminates licensed operator requirements
3, 1938 Alec Reeves patents Pulse Code Modulation (French Patent 852,153 filed Oct. 3, 1938)
3, 1942 First successful rocket launch starts space age
3, 1837 Morse files a caveat on the telegraph with U.S. Patent Office
4, 1957 Sputnik is launched
4, 1983 President Reagan signs Radio Marti into law
5, 1921 First baseball World Series game broadcast on radio
7, 1957 American Bandstand premiers
7, 1970 Intel introduces computer memory chip.
15, 1990 NRSC-3, recommendations for AM receiver specifications, is adopted
17, 1985 Intel intros 386 processor family
17, 1919 RCA established
23, 2001 Apple introduces Ipod
27, 1920 KDKA granted broadcast license
30, 1745 Invention of the Leyden jar (the first capacitor) by Dean Ewald Jurgen von Kleist of the Cathedral of Cammin
30, 1938 Radio Mercury Theater performs The War of the Worlds; panics listeners
1, 1926 NBC begins operations
1, 1987 Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
1, 2006 NPR launches Content Depot
2, 1920 KDKA broadcasts election results.
2, 1920 The first radio receivers sold
4, 1916 Sarnoff proposes "radio music box" for radio reception
10, 1992 First AM HD Radio broadcast with audio codec
13, 1906 de Forest patents Audion tube
13, 1975 SBE adopts Certification Program
14, 1911 Ernst Alexanderson granted US patent for the high-frequency alternator, a 100kHz mechanical alternator
14, 1994 FCC adopts EAS rules
15, 1896 Niagara Falls electric power station connects to power grid with first long-distance power transmission
15, 1899 Transatlantic Times receives first news by wireless
15, 1926 NBC makes its first network broadcast
15, 1971 Intel intros 4004 processor
15, 1985 Microsoft intros Windows 1.0
16, 1904 Fleming patents thermionic tube (diode tube)
18, 1883 Railroads introduce four standard time zones in the U.S.
19, 1954 First mass-market transistor pocket radio introduced, the Regency TR-1.
22, 1899 Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America registered
23, 1993 FCC makes C-QUAM AM stereo standard
24, 1890 Edouard Branley coins the term (radioconductor"); the first use of the word "radio"
28, 1925 The WSM Barn Dance (later renamed The Grand Ole Opry) debuts on WSM, Nashville
29, 1929 NBC begins use of the chimes
1, 1995 FCC eliminates Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit requirement to operate a broadcast station
6, 1923 President Coolidge makes the first presidential address on U.S. radio
7, 1938 The St. Louis Dispatch begins a two-year experiment to deliver newspapers by radio facsimile, first transmission via W9XZY
9, 1968 Douglas Engelbart demonstrates the computer mouse
12, 1901 Marconi receives first trans-Atlantic wireless signal
12, 1960 Laser invented
14, 1877 Ernst Werner von Siemens patents the first loudspeaker
15, 1961 John Battison calls for Institute of Broadcast Engineers in Broadcast Engineering editorial
16, 1925 Dynamic loudspeaker is designed by Chester Rice and Edward Kellogg.
18, 1958 U.S. launches SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment) to transmit radio message from President Eisenhower, effectively becoming the first communications satellite
20, 1991 USA Digital Radio created
22, 2000 Sirius Satellite Radio completes satellite system
24, 1898 First ship-to-shore message sent
24, 1906 Fessenden transmits first distant voice/music broadcast
27, 1947 Bell Labs invents transistor

Station Histories

We receive lots of inquiries asking when stations originally signed on the air. Help us build this list with historic stations and call signs.

Station Sign-on Date Notes
WSM-AM, Nashville Oct 5, 1925
WSRS-FM, Worcester, MA Jun 17, 1940 Was W1XTG, 43.4MHz

The following events carry significance for radio, but we have not yet found a specific date on which to cite the event. If you can provide a date, please let us know at

FCC adopts ATS rules for FM and ND AM

FCC adopts ATS rules for all stations

1822 or 1827
Charles Wheatstone coins the term "microphone"

Term "bit" for binary digit is used for first time by John Tukey. He worked for Bell Labs

The term "byte" is first used in by German-born American computer scientist Werner Buchholz
Source: Letter from Bucholz to Radio magazine. He could not provide an exact date.

Info about error correction codes first published

Dutch physicist Klass Compaan comes up with idea for CD

Digital Audio Disc Committee accepts CD standard

78 rpm (specifically 78.26) designated as standard speed (previously, speeds could range from 78 to 80)

VU meter standard established by CBS, NBC and the Bell Telephone Company.

PPM designed

I.G. Farben creates magnetic tape: iron oxide on plastic film

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