Loomis Day

Loomis Day commemorates Mahlon Loomis, who patented his wireless telegraphing inventions on May 30, 1872.

It’s hard to imagine a world without wireless conveniences such as cell phones and high speed wifi internet, but less than 150 years ago wireless communication was just the wild dream of a New York born dentist. Mahlon Loomis (1826-1886) believed it was possible to harness the upper atmosphere’s electrical currents to successfully transfer telegraph messages without wire.

Armed with 2 kites tied to copper string Loomis set out to prove his hypothesis. Loomis flew the kites at equal height 14 miles away from one another atop Virginia’s Massanutten Mountain. Each kite was tied to copper string, which were then attached to galvanometers. Loomis found that he could use one kite to move the other kite’s meter; the first known form of wireless communication! Loomis patented his idea, titling it 'An Improvement to Telegraphing,' and tried to get government funding to further study and possibly to set-up a network of wireless communication. In the end the government decided not to fund Loomis’ research. Loomis did not give up on his idea, and by the late 1870s there were rumors he was working on a wireless telephone. During his lifetime Loomis was accused of being a crank, and ultimately dismissed as a fraud.

Loomis was perhaps a little too zany for his own time, but he hoped that one day people would utilize his findings. Now-a-days there’s an abundance of wireless technologies and accessories that connect us to one another and probably far-surpass Loomis’ expectations! So a special thanks to Mahlon Loomis for daring to think outside the box. Happy Loomis day!