Early in 1924, 34-year-old Edwin Armstrong returned to Columbia University, the scene 11 years earlier of his breakthrough invention of the regenerative circuit, while only a sophomore. His device had amplified radio waves a thousandfold and made radio practical. This time he had set his sights on eliminating static from radio, a problem most felt was insoluble. “Static, like the poor, will always be with us,” declared the chief engineer of AT&T.
In 1900 the United States Weather Bureau hired 34-year-old electrical engineer Reginald Fessenden to develop a wireless system that could distribute forecasts and relay meteorological data. The Canadian-born inventor, a protégé of Thomas Edison, former consultant for Westinghouse, and professor at Purdue and Western universities, moved his family to Spartan accommodations at the Weather Bureau station at Cobb Island, Maryland, 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., in the Potomac River.