IT’S JUST over a hundred years since the Commonwealth parliament took a train to Queenscliff. They didn’t just want innovation; they were looking for magic.
It was 1906, a decade after a twenty-two-year-old Italian had been granted a patent for “wireless telegraphy.” Experimenting at his family’s home in Bologna, Guglielmo Marconi had worked out how to transmit Morse code signals across short distances without wires.
People had been doing this with wires for half a century. Doing it without wires was magic. When Marconi claimed to have transmitted a signal across the Atlantic in December 1901, many…