discovery paved the way for Morse code.
A priest from the
Wilkes-Barre area made a very significant contribution to communications in the
early days of radio.
While working in the
basement of his church rectory, the Rev. Joseph Murgaš, founding pastor of Sacred Heart
Slovak Church, Wilkes-Barre, developed a better way of sending messages by
paved the way for Morse code by improving on Gugliemo Marconi’s transmission
process. Marconi’s process could only send a single sound and carry that sound
only a short distance over water. Murgaš’ invention,
however, compounded on Marconi’s thinking, and was able to transmit two or
more sounds over distances of 70 miles over land and 700 miles over water. The
variation of sounds developed by Murgaš made communication by Morse code
Murgaš’ invention was
successfully tested on Nov 23, 1905, when Fred Kirkendall, then mayor of
Wilkes-Barre, transmitted a message to Mayor Alexander R. Connell of Scranton.
The company that was formed
to further test and develop Murgaš’
discovery failed after the death of one of his business partners and the
destruction of his equipment during a storm. Marconi later used Murgaš’ ideas and was credited with the
invention. In 1916, however, the United States District court recognized Murgaš
as the inventor of practical wireless communication.
The photo of Murgaš’
communications tower, which was located near his church on top of Bowman Hill,
was published in Edward F. Hanlon; “The Wyoming Valley: An American
Portrait,” 1983, courtesy of F. Charles Petrillo.
The above article appeared in The
Citizens’ voice, a newspaper in
Wilkes-Barre. A greater awareness of Father
Joseph Murgaš, his biography and achievements has been accomplished by the
Slovak Heritage Society of NEPA's video, REVEREND JOSEPH MURGAš, RADIO’S FORGOTTEN GENIUS. This
video is available for purchase from the