Volume 12, No. 2
April 2000

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Videotex, the Internet, and Innovation in France and the United States

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Global Communications since 1844

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How did the word "antenna" come into the scientific and technical terminology? Giuseppe Pelosi, Stefano Selleri, and Barbara Valotti have provided the answers in an article, "Antennae," just published in the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, Volume 42, No. 1 (February 2000): pp. 61-63. Through this well illustrated essay, the authors return to the Greek and Latin roots of the word. There they found its earliest known origins in "the art of navigation," and, later, in a "long wooden pole" that might serve as a mast or a flagpole.

Most intriguingly, Pelosi, Selleri, and Valotti did not find the word "antenna" used in the early years of radio communications. "Aerial," in the sense of "in the air," was the most common term used instead, until, apparently, Guglielmo Marconi used "antenna" in 1909, borrowing it from other applications.

The details of this word's evolution are well worth reading, and readers of Antenna cannot be too strongly encouraged to take a look at the article itself and its list of resources.