Communications Technology - Yesterday
Although instructor Lee de Forest taught at Lewis Institute and performed research at Armour Institute of Technology (AIT) for only a brief time, he entered into the wireless annals with the first successful long-distance telegraphy experiments while on what would become IIT Main Campus. A prolific inventor, de Forest, along with his business partner, E. H. Smythe, developed an improved telegraphic detector, which they called the responder, and conducted a series of wireless-transmission distance trials in the long hallways of Main Building as well as on its roof. In 1901 the duo met with further victory when they sent a signal-the letter “h” in Morse code-from the roof of Main Building to the now nonexistent Lakota Hotel at 30th Street and Michigan Avenue, about a half-mile from Main Campus.
“I have heard glorious symphonies of Beethoven, the thrilling measures of Wagnerian music ringing through the soul, with all joy and inspiration; yet to my waiting ear did that faint whirr-whirr, ticking the h’s of the agreed signal, seem the sweetest music-the most enthralling sound heard by man!” said de Forest, in an article printed in the May 1924 edition of The Armour Engineer.
De Forest would go on to make significant contributions to the radio, television, and film industries, earning an Academy Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.