As he got older, he began to make himself. One of the first works of Popov was a small water mill, built on the brook that flowed next to the house. And soon Alexander discovered an electric bell at Kuksinsky. The novelty was so startled by the future electrical engineering that it did not calm down until it did itself exactly the same, including a galvanic battery to it. And some time later, broken walks were taken over by Popov. The guy disassembled them, cleaned, repaired, reassembled and connected with a homemade bell. He got a primitive electric alarm clock.
The years went by, Alexander grew up. The time has come when parents had to think about his future. Of course, they wanted to send the boy to the gymnasium, but the tuition there was too high. At the age of nine, Popov traveled hundreds of kilometers from his home to comprehend theological sciences. Alexander spent eighteen years in the Dolmatovsky and Yekaterinburg Theological Schools, as well as in the Perm Theological Seminary. These were painful years. Dead theological dogmas, so alien to his inquisitive mind, did not interest Popov at all. Nevertheless, he studied diligently, not knowing the letters before the age of ten, he mastered it in just six weeks.
Alexander had few friends, he did not find pleasure either in the pranks of the seminarians, or in the games with his comrades. Nevertheless, the other students treated him with respect - he often surprised them with some intricate devices. For example, a talking device at a distance, made of two boxes with bottoms from a fish bladder, connected by waxed thread.
In the spring of 1877, Popov received in the seminary documents indicating that he had completed four classes. They said: "The abilities are excellent, the diligence is excellent, diligent." In all subjects, including Greek, Latin and French, were the highest scores. Any of the classmates Popov could only envy such an immaculate certificate - it promised a brilliant career. But Alexander this testimony to anything, by the time he had already firmly decided not to go to the priests. His dream was to get to university. However, they were not accepted there on the basis of a seminar certificate. There was only one way out - to pass exams, the so-called "certificate of maturity" for the entire gymnasium course. Seminar Popov knew only some hearsay about some of the subjects that the high school students were taught. However, during the summer he managed to fill all the gaps in knowledge and with honor left the entrance tests. The dream came true - Alexander entered the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at St. Petersburg University.
The young student chose the study of electricity as the main direction of his scientific activity. It should be noted that in those years there were practically no laboratories at the university. And very rarely did professors show any experiments at lectures. Alexander, dissatisfied with theoretical knowledge as a simple electrical engineer, got a job at one of the first urban power stations. He also took an active part in lighting Nevsky Prospect and in the work of the electrical exhibition in the salt town. It is not surprising that soon he began to speak about him with great respect - classmates and professors noted Alexander's extraordinary abilities, efficiency and perseverance. Such outstanding inventors as Yablochkov, Chikolev and Ladygin were interested in the young student.
In 1883, Popov graduated from the university and immediately refused to stay within the walls of this institution to prepare for a professorship. In November of the same year he married. His wife was the daughter of lawyer Raisa Alekseevna Bogdanova. Later, Raisa Alekseevna entered the Higher Medical Courses for Women, opened at the Nikolayevsky Hospital, and became one of the first certified women doctors in our country. All her life she practiced medicine. Subsequently, the Popovs had four children: sons Stepan and Alexander and daughters Raisa and Ekaterina.
Together with his wife, Alexander Stepanovich moved to Kronstadt and got a job in the Mining Officer Class. Popov conducted classes on galvanism and was in charge of a physical office. His duties also included the preparation of experiments and their demonstration in lectures. The Mine Class Physical Cabinet had no shortage of instruments or scientific literature. There were created excellent conditions for research work, which Popov surrendered with all the ardor.
Alexander Stepanovich belonged to those teachers who teach not stories, but shows - the experimental part was the core of his teaching. He closely followed the latest scientific advances and as soon as he learned about new experiences, he immediately repeated them and showed them to his listeners. Popov often conducted conversations with students that went far beyond the course. He attached great importance to this kind of communication with students and never regretted time for these conversations. Contemporaries wrote: “The manner of reading Alexander Stepanovich was simple - without oratorical tricks, without any affectation. The face remained calm, the natural excitement was deeply hidden by a man who was undoubtedly accustomed to owning his feelings. He made a strong impression with a profound content of reports, thought out to the smallest detail and brilliantly staged experiments, sometimes with original lighting, and drawing interesting parallelisms. Among sailors, Popov was considered an exceptional lecturer; the audience was always full. ” The inventor was not limited to the experiments described in the literature, he often put his own - originally conceived and masterfully executed. If in some journal a scientist met a description of a new device, he could not calm down until he collected it with his own hands. In all that related to the design, Alexander Stepanovich could do without outside help. He perfectly owned turning, carpentry and glass-blowing crafts, he made the most complicated parts with his own hands.
In the late eighties, every physical journal wrote about the works of Heinrich Hertz. Among other things, this outstanding scientist studied the oscillations of electromagnetic waves. The German physicist was very close to the discovery of the wireless telegraph, but his work was interrupted by the tragic death of 1 on January 1894 of the year. Popov attached great importance to the experiments of Hertz. Ever since 1889, Alexander Stepanovich has been working on improving the devices used by the German. And nevertheless, Popov was not satisfied with what was achieved. His work was continued only in the autumn of 1894, after the English physicist Oliver Lodge managed to create a completely new type of resonator. Instead of the usual circle of wire, he used a glass tube with metal filings, which, under the influence of electromagnetic waves, changed their resistance and made it possible to catch even the weakest waves. However, the new device, the coherer, had a drawback - it was necessary to shake the tube with sawdust every time. Lodja only had to make a step towards the invention of the radio, but he, like Hertz, stopped at the threshold of the greatest discovery.
But the resonator of the British scientist immediately appreciated Alexander Popov. Finally, this device gained sensitivity, which allowed to enter into the struggle for the range of reception of electromagnetic waves. Of course, the Russian inventor understood that it was very tiring to stand by the device without a trace, shaking him every time after receiving a signal. And here Popov came to mind one of his children's invention - an electric alarm clock. Soon, the new device was ready - at the moment of receiving electromagnetic waves, the hammer of the call, notifying people, beat into the metal bowl, and on the return stroke hit the glass tube, shaking it. Rybkin recalled: ““ The new design has shown brilliant results. The device acted quite clearly. The receiving station responded with a short call to a small spark that excited the vibrations. Alexander Stepanovich made his, the device was accurate, clear and worked automatically.
Spring 1895, was marked by new successful experiments. Popov was convinced that his laboratory experience would soon become a unique technical invention. The call rang, even when the resonator was installed in the fifth room from the hall in which the vibrator was located. And in one of the May days, Alexander Stepanovich brought his invention outside the Mine class. The transmitter was installed at the window, and the receiver was carried deep into the garden, installed fifty meters from it. There was an important test that determined the future of the new wireless communication. The scientist locked the transmitter key and immediately rang the bell. The device did not disappoint at a distance of sixty, and seventy meters. It was a victory. No other inventor of that time could dream of receiving signals at such a distance.
The bell was silent only eighty meters away. However, Alexander Stepanovich did not despair. He hung several meters of wire on a tree above the receiver, connecting the lower end of the wire to a coherer. Popov's calculation was fully justified, with the help of a wire, electromagnetic oscillations were caught, and the bell rang again. Thus was born the world's first antenna, without which now no radio station can do.
7 May 1895, Popov presented his invention at a meeting of the Russian Physico-Chemical Society. Before the meeting began, a small box with a receiver was installed on the table near the pulpit, and there was a vibrator at the other end of the room. Alexander Stepanovich rose to the department, out of habit, stooping a little. He was laconic. His schemes, his instruments and the iridescent trill of the bell, the working apparatus, more eloquently showed to the people in the hall the irrefutable arguments of the scientist. All those present unanimously came to the conclusion that the invention of Alexander Stepanovich is a completely new means of communication. So 7 May 1895, forever left in stories Science, as the date of birth of the radio.
On one summer day, 1895, Alexander Stepanovich appeared in a laboratory with lots of colorful balloons. After some time, the listeners of the Mine Class could observe an extraordinary spectacle. Popov and Rybkin climbed onto the roof, and a moment later a motley bunch of balls rose, pulling the antenna, to the end of which a galvanoscope was attached. Under the influence of still unexplored atmospheric discharges, the arrows of the galvanoscope deflected either weaker or stronger. Soon, the researcher made his device note their strength. For this, he needed only a clockwork, rotating the drum with a piece of paper glued to it, and a writing pen. Each short circuit and opening of the receiver circuit pushed the pen, writing a zigzag line on paper, the size and number of which zigzags corresponded to the strength and number of discharges somewhere. This device, Alexander Stepanovich dubbed the "lightning gauge", in fact it was the first radio receiver in the world. There were no transmitting stations at that time. The only thing that Popov caught was echoes of a thunderstorm.
A year has passed, and the Russian scientist's ground meter has turned into a real wireless telegraph. The bell replaced the Morse machine. An excellent technician, Alexander Stepanovich, made him record electromagnetic waves, noting every spark of the transmitter on the creeping tape either with a dash or a dot. By controlling the duration of the sparks — dots and dashes — the sender could transmit any letter, word, or phrase in Morse code. Popov understood that the time was not far off when the people who remained on the shore could communicate with those who had gone to distant sea voyages, and sailors, wherever their fate had thrown, would be able to send signals to the shore. But for this it was still necessary to conquer the distance - to strengthen the sending station, build high antennas and conduct a lot of new experiments and tests.
Popov loved his job. The need for new research never seemed burdensome to him. However, money was required ... Until now, Popov and Rybkin spent part of their own salary on experiments. However, for new experiments, their modest means were clearly not enough. The inventor decided to contact the Admiralty. Executives fleet were not inclined to attach particular importance to the studies of the civilian teacher of the Mine class. However, the captain of the second rank Vasilyev was ordered to familiarize himself with the work of the scientist. Vasiliev was an executive man, he began to regularly visit the physics laboratory. The radio telegraph of Popov made a favorable impression on the captain. Vasiliev turned to the Ministry of the Sea for the allocation of money, and in response asked Alexander Stepanovich to keep his technical invention a secret, write and talk about it as little as possible. All this further prevented the scientist from taking a patent for his invention.
12 March 1896, Popov and Rybkin demonstrated the work of their wireless. The transmitter was installed at the Chemical Institute, and the receiver - a quarter of a kilometer on the table of the physical audience of the university. Antenna receiver was displayed through the window and mounted on the roof. Passing all obstacles - wood, brick, glass - invisible electromagnetic waves penetrated the physical audience. The anchor of the apparatus, methodically tapping, knocked out the world's first radiogram, which everyone in the room could read: “HENRICH HERZ”. As always, Popov was infinitely modest in assessing his own merits. On this auspicious day, he was not thinking about himself, he just wanted to pay homage to the physicist who had just left.
To complete the work started to improve the wireless, the inventor still needed money. Alexander Stepanovich wrote to the Admiralty reports with a request to allocate him one thousand rubles. The Chairman of the Marine Technical Committee Dikov was an educated man, and he understood how important Popov's invention was for the fleet. Unfortunately, however, the issue of money did not depend on him. The vice-admiral Tyrtov, the head of the Marine Ministry, was a man of a completely different warehouse. He stated that the wireless telegraph could not exist in principle and did not intend to spend money on “chimerical” projects. Rybkin wrote: “Conservatism and distrust of the authorities, lack of funds - all this did not foretell success. There were enormous difficulties in the path of the wireless telegraph, which were a direct consequence of the social system prevailing in Russia. ”
The refusal of the vice-admiral actually meant the prohibition of all further work in this direction, but Popov, at his own peril and risk, continued to improve the instruments. At that time, his soul was bitter, he did not know how to apply his invention for the good of the Motherland. However, he had one way out - it was enough just the words of a scientist, and the work would have moved. He was persistently called to America. Entrepreneurial people overseas have already heard about the experiences of Alexander Stepanovich and wanted to organize a company with all the rights to the Russian invention. Popov was offered the help of engineers, materials, tools, money. Only on the move he was given thirty thousand rubles. The inventor refused to even consider moving to the USA, and explained to friends that he regards it as a betrayal of the Motherland: “I am a Russian person, and I have the right to give all my work, all my achievements, all my knowledge only to my Motherland ...”.
In the summer of 1896, the unexpected appeared in the press. news: a young Italian student, Guglielmo Marconi, invented a telegraph without wires. There were no details in the newspapers, the Italian kept the invention secret, and his instruments were hidden in sealed boxes. Only a year later the scheme of the device was published in the popular magazine Electrician. Marconi did not bring anything new to science - he used the Branly coherer, a vibrator, improved by Italian professor Augusto Rigi, and Popov's receiving apparatus.
What seemed to be the most significant Russian patriot did not embarrass the Italian at all; he was absolutely indifferent where to implement the device. Extensive contacts led Guglielmo to William Pris, the head of the English Postal and Telegraph Union. Immediately assessing the possibilities of the new device, Pris organized the financing of the work and provided Marconi with technically competent assistants. After obtaining the patent in 1897 in England, the case was put on a commercial basis, and the Gulyelmo Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company was born soon, becoming the world's leading radio communications corporation for many years.
Marconi's works have become a favorite topic of the press. Russian newspapers echoed foreign newspapers and magazines. In the race for sensation and fashion, no one mentioned the merits of the Russian inventor. Compatriot "remembered" only in the "Peterburgskaya Gazeta". But as they remembered. The following was written: “Our inventors are far from being foreigners. A Russian scientist will make a brilliant discovery, such as wiring without wires (Mr. Popov), and from fear of advertising and noise, out of modesty, is sitting in the silence of the cabinet behind the discovery. ” The abandoned reproach was completely undeserved, the conscience of Alexander Popov was clear. The inventor did his best to put his child in time in time, alone fought against the obstinacy of the bureaucratic apparatus, for ensuring that the biggest revolution in the field of communications went into history with a Russian name. But in the end, he, Popov, was accused by Russian journalists of “sluggishness”.
When Marconi transmitted the first radiogram through the nine-mile Gulf of Bristol, it became clear even to the blind that the telegraph without poles and wires was not a “chimera.” Only then did Vice-Admiral Tyrtov, in the end, declare that he was ready to give money to the Russian scientist Popov ... as much as nine hundred rubles! At the same time, the clever businessman Marconi had a capital of two million. The best technicians and engineers worked for him, and his orders were carried out by the most renowned companies. However, even with this small amount in his hands, Popov plunged into work with all the passion. Began testing the wireless at sea, the transmission distance has risen from tens to several thousand meters. In 1898, experiments resumed on the ships of the Baltic Fleet. At the end of the summer, a permanent telegraph link was organized between the transport ship Europe and the cruiser Africa. The first telegraph magazines appeared on the ships. In ten days, over one hundred thirty messages were received and sent. And in Alexander Stepanovich’s head more and more new ideas were born. For example, it is known that he was engaged in preparing for "the use of a source of electromagnetic waves at beacons, as an addition to sound or light signals." Essentially, it was about the current direction finder.
In the first half of 1899, Popov went on a trip abroad. He visited a number of large laboratories, personally met with well-known experts and scientists, observed the teaching of electrical disciplines in educational institutions. Later, he returned, he said: “I found out and saw everything that was possible. We are not very far behind. ” However, this “not very” was the usual modesty of the Russian genius. By the way, in competent scientific circles Alexander Stepanovich paid tribute. Summing up his stay in Paris, the scientist wrote to his colleagues: “Wherever I went, I was accepted as an acquaintance, sometimes with open arms, expressing joy in words and showing a lot of attention when I wanted to see something ...”.
At the same time, his associate Pyotr Rybkin was engaged in further testing of the radio telegraph on military courts in accordance with the program drawn up by Popov even before going abroad. In one day, setting up the receiver of the fort “Milutin”, Pyotr Nikolayevich and the captain of Troitsky connected the handsets to the coherer and heard in them a signal from a radio transmitter from Fort “Konstantin”. It was an extremely important discovery of Russian radiotelegraphy, suggesting a new way to receive radiograms - by ear. Rybkin, immediately assessing the full value of the find, immediately sent a telegram to Popov. The scientist, having postponed the trip to Switzerland, hurried back to his homeland, carefully checked all the experiments and soon collected a special one — a radiotelephone receiver. This device, again the first in the world, was patented by him in Russia, England and France. The radiotelephone, in addition to a completely new method of reception, was distinguished by the fact that it picked up weaker signals and, as a result, could work at a much greater distance. With its help, it was immediately possible to transmit a signal to thirty kilometers.
At the end of autumn 1899, the battleship "General-Admiral Apraksin", heading from Kronstadt to Libau, flew off the coast of the island of Gogland on the pitfalls and got holes. It was risky to leave the ship tightly stuck until spring - the vessel could suffer even more during the ice drift. The Maritime Ministry decided to begin rescue work without delay. However, one obstacle arose - there was no connection between the mainland and Gogland. Laying a telegraph cable under water would have cost the state fifty thousand rubles and could only begin in spring. It was then that once again they remembered about Popov's device. Alexander Stepanovich accepted the proposal of the Ministry. But now his wireless telegraph had to send signals over forty kilometers, while in recent experiments they had reached only thirty. Fortunately, he was released ten thousand rubles, which Popov spent on the creation of new, more powerful devices.
Alexander Stepanovich worked on the Finnish coast in the city of Kotka, where the post and telegraph point nearest to the accident site was located. There he immediately began to build a radio station, which included a radio tower twenty meters high and a small collapsible house for equipment. And on the island of Gogland on the icebreaker "Yermak" together with the necessary materials went Rybkin, who had the even more difficult task of building a radio station on a bare rock. Peter Nikolaevich wrote: “The cliff was a real anthill. At the same time, they put a house for the station, collected arrows for lifting the mast, dug a hole in the rock for the foundation with dynamite, and drilled holes in the granite for the butts. We worked from dawn to dusk, making one half-hour break to warm up by the fire and have a snack. ” Their work was not in vain, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, 6 February 1900, Gogland finally spoke. Admiral Makarov, who perfectly understands the importance of the fleet's radio, wrote to the inventor: “On behalf of all the sailors of Kronstadt, I cordially greet you with the magnificent success of your invention. Creating a wireless telegraph message from Gogland to Kotka is the biggest scientific victory. ” Some time later, an unusual telegram came from Kotka: "To the commander of the Yermak." Near Lavensari, the ice floe with fishermen came off. Give help. ” The icebreaker, having retired from the parking lot, breaking the ice, set off for the fulfillment of the mission. The Ermak returned only in the evening, with twenty-seven rescued fishermen on board. Alexander Stepanovich after this event said that he had never in his life experienced such pleasure from his work.
Battleship was able to remove from the stones only in the spring 1900. "The highest order" Popov was thanked. The memorandum of Vice-Admiral Dikov, Chairman of the Technical Committee, said: “The time has come for the introduction of wireless telegraph on the ships of our fleet.” Now no one objected with this, even Vice-Admiral Tyrtov. By this time, this "figure" from the maritime ministry managed to take another, more convenient position. When Dikov and Makarov advised him to take up the implementation of the radio more vigorously, Tyrtov agreed that the matter was indeed progressing tightly. However, only the inventor, of course, is to blame for this, since he is slow and hopeless ....
There was another problem. Before launching the introduction of wireless to the army and navy, it was necessary to arrange the delivery of appropriate equipment. And here opinions differed. One group of officials believed that the easiest way was to order appliances abroad. However, such a decision was to cost a large sum, and most importantly make the country dependent on foreign companies and factories. Another group was in favor of organizing production at home. Similar views on the development of the radio industry in Russia were shared by Popov. However, in influential circles of the departmental bureaucracy there was still a strong distrust of everything that came from outside. And in the Maritime Ministry, most adhered to the view that the production of radio equipment is troublesome, long and without any guarantees regarding the quality of future products. The order for the radio fleet of the domestic fleet was received by the German firm Telefunken. Alexander Stepanovich was hard at it. He studied the incoming devices and sent a message to the command about the disgusting performance of German radio stations. Unfortunately, the fleet leaders did not attach importance to Popov’s warnings. All this led to the fact that during the Japanese war, our vessels were left without communication.
Summer 1901, Popov spent, testing radio stations on ships of the Black Sea Fleet. The results were remarkable, the reception range increased to 148 kilometers. Returning to St. Petersburg, the scientist went to the Technical Committee to report on the results of summer work. Met him very kindly. Popov was told a lot of nice things, but the conversation ended quite unexpectedly. The chairman of the committee invited him to leave Kronstadt and go to the Electrotechnical Institute, taking the place of professor there. Popov did not immediately answer, he did not like ill-considered decisions at all. Eighteen years the inventor has worked in the Maritime Department, in recent years engaged in the introduction of new means of communication, which, Popov knew well, he is extremely needed. Therefore, he agreed to move to a new place only with the condition of “preserving the right to serve in the Navy Department”.
At the sight of badly equipped laboratory rooms at the Electrotechnical Institute, Alexander Stepanovich recalled the physical room of the Mine class with sadness. Often, in an effort to replenish the laboratory, Professor Popov, as in former times, independently manufactured the necessary instruments. The new work did not allow the inventor to surrender entirely to his intentions. Nevertheless, he remotely supervised the introduction of a new means of communication on ships of the fleet, and took part in the training of specialists. Soviet scientist A.A. Petrovsky said: “As a rule, Alexander Stepanovich came to us once or twice in the summer time to get acquainted with the current work, to distribute his instructions. His appearance was a kind of celebration, brought to our ranks of the upsurge and revival. "
11 January 1905, Popov, together with other members of the Russian Physico-Chemical Society, signed a protest against the shooting of the January 9 demonstration. The situation in the country was alarming. It was also alarming at the Electrotechnical Institute, whose professorship and students were with the police in a bad way. Arrests and searches did not cease, and student unrest was the answer. Alexander Stepanovich, who became the first elected director of the institute, tried in every way to protect his players from persecution of the Security Division.
At the end of December 1905, the Minister of the Interior was informed that Lenin spoke at the institute to the students. The enraged minister summoned Popov. He waved his arms and shouted in the face of an outstanding scientist. The minister said that from now on, guards will be present at the institute to monitor students. Perhaps for the first time in his life, Alexander Stepanovich could not resist. He abruptly said that as long as he remains in the post of director no security guard, either explicit or secret, will be allowed into the institute. He barely got home, he felt so bad. In the evening of the same day, Popov had to go to the meeting of the RFCS. On it, he was unanimously elected chairman of the physical department. Returning from the meeting, Popov immediately fell asleep, and after a couple of weeks, 13 on January 1906, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He left in the prime of life, he was only forty-six years old.
Such was the way of life of the true creator of wireless telegraphy - Alexander Stepanovich Popov. Marconi’s massive advertising campaign has done its dirty work, forcing not only the broad public circles, but even the scientific world to forget the name of a true inventor. Of course, the merits of the Italian are indisputable - his efforts made it possible for radio communications in just a few years to conquer the world, to find a use in various fields and, one can say, to enter every home. However, only business acumen, not a scientific genius, allowed Guglielmo Marconi to defeat her rivals. In the words of one scientist, "he attributed to himself everything that was the product of the brain activity of his predecessors." Not disdaining anything, by any means the Italian sought to be spoken of as the one and only creator of radio. It is known that he recognized the radio equipment only of his company and prohibited to receive signals (even distress signals) from ships whose equipment was made by other companies.
Today, in the West, Popov’s name is almost forgotten, but in our country it is still held in high esteem. And the matter here is not even in the priority of the invention - it is a question of the historians of science. Alexander Stepanovich is the embodiment of the best features of the Russian intellectual. This and indifference to wealth, and the mentioned modesty, and unsightly, discreet appearance and concern for the welfare of the people, from which he came out himself. And, of course, patriotism coming from the heart.
According to the book GI. Golovina "Alexander Stepanovich Popov".