• "Receiving set for trench radio," 1914-1918. Courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rare Book & Special Collections Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Receiving set for trench radio, 1914-1918.
    • Date
    • 5-13-02
    • Creator
    • Unknown
    • Description
    • Black and white photograph. Label description: 'Receiving set for trench radio, with amplifier, receiving message. Signal School 1st Division, France.. World War I. 16 History; 13 Science, Technology and Society
    • Rights
    • For any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/tdc for more information about this project.
      Http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/tdc/conditions.htm
    • Partner
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
      University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library

  • "Military radio training, 1918." Courtesy Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library, via Mountain West Digital Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Military radio training, 1918."
    • Date
    • 1918
    • Description
    • Two young men in uniform undergoing military radio training during World War I at the power panel for the Plotting Room in the basement of Old Main, 1918. Size of photograph: 8 x 10 in.
    • Rights
    • Reproduction for publication, exhibition, web display or commercial use is only permissible with the consent of the USU Libraries photograph curator, phone (435) 797-0890
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
      Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library

  • "Student aviators getting acquainted with the radio instruments." Courtesy The New York Public Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Student aviators getting acquainted with the radio instruments."
    • Date
    • 1860 - 1920
    • Description
    • 6229.
    • Rights
    • If you have information regarding this image or if you are the copyright holder or their agent giving notice pursuant to The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, please contact DigitalCollections@nypl.org.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
      Wallach Division: Photography Collection. The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection. The New York Public Library

Radio during WWI 

At the onset of World War I, radio was still in its infancy. Army equipment was primitive, had a very short range, and often negotiated atmospheric interference. A 1913 aircraft with a radio, at the time considered cutting-edge equipment, had a maximum range of 2,000 yards. Military radio equipment also used vacuum tubes, which were heavy and bulky. As a result, the equipment was difficult to tote around on the battlefield, even on mules and horses, which were still the military’s primary mode of equipment transportation. The American army made some adaptations with the development of a "horse-pack set," which used a hand generator and was strapped to the side of a horse. The entire radio transmitter and receiver, in size and design, resembled a saddle.

Still, this did not solve all of radio’s challenges. During the First World War, radio transmissions were often less reliable than using wired telephones or telegraphs. Radio really found a foothold, however, at sea, even before the United States’ direct involvement in World War I. President Wilson’s 1914 Executive Order allowed the Navy to censor international telegrams sent or received via radio. Though many, including the Marconi Wireless Company of America, vehemently challenged the censorship ban, it stuck, and so began the Navy’s heavy involvement with wartime radio. Navy radio stations, which had higher powered signals than those sent out on the frontlines, were able to relay timely wartime news to vessels at sea. There was some experimentation with troop entertainment via radio transmission, too, with broadcasts aimed at Navy ships at sea and wounded sailors recovering in hospitals. It is telling that the U.S. Navy press sent its final dispatch of the war, announcing armistice on November 11, 1918, via radio transmission.