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By the end of the 19th century, researchers were focusing intensively on the use of electromagnetic waves as a medium of wireless communication. When Guglielmo Marconi – supported by the British Navy – began to create a radio network, the UK was close to achieving a global monopoly in wireless telegraphy. Emperor Wilhelm II and military circles in Germany responded by urging Siemens & Halske and AEG to establish a united front as a counterbalance.
Following protracted patent disputes, the Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegraphie mbH – System Telefunken was finally founded in 1903 with the aim of coordinating technical development, defining possible applications and marketing apparatus and systems. The new company’s stakeholders, Siemens and AEG, each held a 50-percent share; as the parent companies, they were responsible for production.
Until World War 1, Telefunken was primarily involved in constructing large transmitter stations. Colonial administrators and the admiralty supported the construction of such transmitters because – for economic and political reasons – they were interested in exchanging information quickly with Germany’s colonies in Africa and other overseas possessions. As of 1906, a test transmitter which was located in Nauen near Berlin and later expanded to create a large transmitter station made it possible to bridge such great distances.
In 1907, Telefunken commissioned the operation of a coastal radio network in Germany, subsequently establishing country-wide and overseas services for marine radio communications and enabling information to be exchanged in the shipping sector.1
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1 Wittendorfer, F., siemens.com