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60 Years After the First Female Broadcast

Wireless World, June/July, 1980.
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A couple in their 80s visited Marconi Communications Systems in Chelmsford in February as part of activities to commemorate the first wireless telephony transmissions, which took place there in 1920.

Mrs Winifred Collins at the time when, as Miss Winifred Sayer, she made the world's first telephony broadcasts by a woman, from the Marconi Works in Chelmsford during February and March 1920.

Mrs Winifred Collins, then Winifred Sayer, was the first woman to make such a broadcast. She sang on three separate occasions and was paid ten shillings (50p) for each performance.

In 1920 Captain H J Round of Marconis Wireless Telegraph Co. was granted a licence to experiment with wireless telephony. Wireless telegraphy had been in use for some years, notably at sea where ship to shore morse transmission was commonplace. The war of 1914-1918 increased the tempo of experiments and telephony had been shown as feasible.

Captain Round's transmissions were made on 2,800 metres for half-hourly periods. mornings and afternoons, beginning on February 23, 1920. Mrs Collins was certainly the first woman to make voice transmissions. although the significance of the event was somewhat overshadowed by transmissions in June, July and August of that year by stars such as Dame Nellie Melba. Lauritz Melchior, Jenny Lind and other well-known singers. Mrs Collins was present at one of the Melba broadcasts and recalls seeing Dame Nellie kick away the carpet because she feared the acoustic might be impaired by it.

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