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 Hello fellow students of wireless history,

This morning I read this interesting bit of information about Marconi’s
renowned vertical antenna:

Edison patented a system of wireless communication by electrostatic
induction.  He placed two high masts at a distance apart and fixed a
metal plate on top of each.  One metal plate was charged to a high
voltage producing an electric field, which could be detected on the
plate of the receiving mast. The two plates on the high masts were the
first electrical aerials. The patent for the aerials was sold to the
Italian electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi (further Marchese)
[eighteen years later] in 1903 [35].

[35]: W. Thomson and P. G. Tait, /Treatise on Natural Philosophy,
Oxford, Carendon Press, 1867.

(You can confirm this quotation on Google Books:
Although Google has apparently digitized this entire text of the 2006 book titled History Of Wireless, they only permit viewing 72 of the 684 pages. However, searches do provide small excerpts of the pages upon which the search terms may be found.)

The above quotation is from page 79 of the 2006 book titled History Of
Wireless. The wealth of historical information contained in the
chronological time line in the beginning of the book is astounding in its
value in grasping the comprehensive collaboration of scientists,
researchers, and experimental developers of early electromagnetic discovery and implementation.  The complete 674 page book (12.5 MB, 13,154,307 bytes) appears to be available for free download here:

Edison’s Patent:
United States Patent US0465971
Application Number: US465971DA
Application filed May 23, 1885
Serial No. 166,455
Publication Date: 12/29/1891 (attached)

As the above patent appears to show antenna masts positioned at distances that would enable line-of-sight communications to overcome the curvature of the earth, it would seem to contradict the “grasshopper” comments below.

On page 84 of History Of Wireless is found this bit of interesting

Captain Henry Jackson (later Sir Henry Jackson and First Sea Lord) of     the British Admiralty sent Morse-codes by wireless over a few hundred

[17] J. Bray, Innovation and the Communications Revolution, IEE, London.
Page 68

[35] W. Thomson and P. G. Tait, /Treatise on Natural Philosophy,
Oxford, Carendon Press, 1867.
Innovation and the Communications Revolution From the Victorian pioneers to broadband Internet, by John Bray. The full 335 page (3.36 MB, 3,526,956 bytes) book is available for free download at the above link.

The book The Origins of Maritime Radio details Henry Jackson’s very early wireless experimentation with wireless pre-dating Marconi, and in
collaboration with him:

More research:
Means for transmitting signals electrically 178/43 An electromagnetic
induction system Edison called “grasshopper telegraphy”, which allowed
telegraphic signals to jump the short distance between a running train and
telegraph wires running parallel to the tracks. This system was successful
technically but not economically, as there turned out to be little interest
by train travelers in an on-board telegraph service.

Thomas Alva Edison Issue Date: December 29, 1891 US465971
In 1883 Edison made a significant discovery in pure science, the Edison
effect–electrons flowed from incandescent filaments. With a metal-plate
insert, the lamp could serve as a valve, admitting only negative
electricity. Although “etheric force” had been recognized in 1875 and the
Edison effect was patented in 1883, the phenomenon was little known outside the Edison laboratory. (At this time existence of electrons was not generally accepted.) This “force” underlies radio broadcasting,
long-distance telephony, sound pictures, television, electric eyes, x-rays,
high-frequency surgery, and electronic musical instruments. In 1885 Edison patented a method to transmit telegraphic “aerial” signals, which worked over short distances, and later sold this “wireless” patent to Guglielmo Marconi.
In 1882 Edison made an amazing scientific discovery termed the Edison
Effect. He discovered that in a vacuum, electrons flowed from a heated
element (such as an incandescent filament) to a cooler metal plate. The
electrons flow only one way, from the hot element to the cool plate, like a
diode. This effect is now called “thermionic emission.”

A method to transmit telegraphic “aerial” signals over short distances was
patented by Edison in 1885. The “wireless” patent was later sold to
Guglielmo Marconi.