In the annals of science, Guglielmo Marconi receives credit for the invention of the wireless telecommunication with the telegraph. Yet a Swedish scientist who served on Thomas Edison's staff brought another kind of fame to the Outer Banks for his work in the field of wireless communication which became the basis for modern radio broadcasting.
In 1902, Reginald Fessenden erected two fifty-foot transmission towers on Roanoke Island and near Buxton at King's Point to test his wireless telephone. Using three watts of energy, Fessenden did what had previously been thought impossible: he transmitted varying musical notes across the 45-mile expanse of water. So impressed were Edison and Marconi that they both journeyed to Hatteras to observe the test. That same year, Edison and Fessenden successfully transmitted human voice over the wireless. And that same year, Marconi returned to erect the first wireless tower in the Western Hemisphere at Hatteras.
Ten years later, an operator at Marconi's station was the only land-based operator to receive a distress call from a luxury liner far to the north. He relayed the message to New York, where he was admonished for jamming the lines with frivolous chatter. Everyone knew theTitanic was unsinkable.