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Princess Elettra Marconi Visits TCNJ’s Sarnoff Collection

Princess Elettra Marconi Visits TCNJ’s Sarnoff Collection

Princess Elettra Marconi, daughter of Guglielmo Marconi—widely known as the “Father of Radio”—visited TCNJ’s Sarnoff Collection on June 15th. Princess Marconi’s trip to Ewing is part of a North American tour commemorating the 140th anniversary of her father’s birth.  The Princess was greeted by TCNJ President Barbara Gitenstein and members of the faculty and staff of the College. The Princess’s visit to TCNJ highlighted the long and close friendship between Guglielmo Marconi and David Sarnoff, for whom the College’s Sarnoff Collection is named.

Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy in 1874. A childhood fascination with electricity inspired him to develop a system to transmit radio signals. Marconi demonstrated his invention in London in 1896 and later that year received the world’s first patent for a wireless telegraph system.  In 1901, he successfully transmitted the first radio message—the letter “S” in Morse code—across the Atlantic Ocean.  He earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for these accomplishments in 1909.

In 1899, Marconi founded the American branch of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, the precursor to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). RCA’s longtime chairman, David Sarnoff, started his career as an operator at American Marconi and maintained a lifetime friendship with the Italian inventor.  TCNJ is home to numerous artifacts highlighting the relationship between these two telecommunications pioneers, including the telegraph key from the Marconi station where Sarnoff communicated with rescue ships during the Titanic disaster.