The Radio: Another Great Valencian Invention

Think of the radio and you automatically think of Marconi, although as with so many other inventions, it is the victors who write history, or file the patent first.

Julio Cervera Baviera (1854 –1927) was a Valencian engineer, born in Segorbe, a pioneer in the development of radio, and a soldier. He was also obviously a bit of a rebel, who had his run ins with the authorities from time to time and was even imprisoned on one occasion.

In 1875 he abandoned his studies of Natural Sciences at the University of Valencia to join the Army, graduating from the Academy of Cavalry in 1875 and the Academy of Military Engineers at Guadalajara in 1882.

He was in Morocco in 1877, where he published a book on military geography in 1884 and between 1888 and 1890 he served as Military attaché in the Embassy of Spain in Tangiers.

Then in December 1890 he published a criticism of the Spanish colonial government in Morocco and was arrested, being held in the Santa Bárbara castle at Alicante in 1891.

After his release, he served as aide-de-camp to General Manuel Macías y Casado in Melilla, the Canary Islands, Valladolid and Puerto Rico.

During the Spanish–American War, he was involved in the Battle of Guamaní (August 1898), and helped rebuff an attack by American troops.

His support for Governor General Manuel Macías y Casado, the head of the government of Puerto Rico in February 1898, and his criticisms of the subservient attitudes of the local people who accepted American rule after the Spanish defeat, led to a duel, which finally never took place.

In May–June 1899 Cervera visited Marconi’s installations by the English Channel, and worked to develop his own system. He began collaborating with Marconi to resolve the problem of a wireless communication system, obtaining some patents by the end of 1899.

Baviera is credited by some with inventing the radio in 1902 and patenting it in England, Germany, Belgium, and Spain.

Marconi invented the wireless telegraph, demonstrating its effectiveness in December 1901, but did not produce radios until 1913. Cervera, who worked with Marconi and his assistant George Kemp in 1899, resolved the difficulties of wireless telegraph and obtained his first patents prior to the end of that year.

In 1902 Cervera founded the Spanish Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Corporation using the patents he had obtained in Spain, Belgium, Germany and England. He established the second and third regular radiotelegraph services in the history of the world in 1901 and 1902 by maintaining regular transmissions between Tarifa and Ceuta for three consecutive months, and between Xàbia and Ibiza.

He travelled around Europe and the United States from May 1903, where he became interested in instruction via correspondence. He abandoned his military career and set up the Internacional Institución Electrotécnica in Valencia in 1903, one of the first distance education programs in the world. It gave degrees for mechanical engineers and electricians.

Cervera also designed the Tenerife Tram system and helped build a tramway system in his native Segorbe.

Cervera was a liberal republican. He was also a militant Freemason who founded a masonic lodge in Segorbe. In 1890 he founded, with Felipe de Borbón y Braganza, an order of Masons in Morocco, comprising 12 lodges and 200 masons (the members were Africans, Europeans, Americans).

He was involved in Republican politics and became an MP at one point.

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