Oliver Joseph Lodge was the eldest of eight sons and a daughter of Oliver and Grace Lodge. He was born on June 12, 1851 in Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent (the house later became the home of Sir Stanley Matthews). He was educated at Newport Grammar School, where he made his first acquaintance with science. At the age of 14 he left school and helped his father in running a business selling clays and glazes. Later, on a visit to London, he heard a series of Tyndall's lectures and began the study of chemistry by attending afternoon classes at Wedgwood Institute. And in 1872 he enrolled in a course at the South Kensington Chemical Laboratory. Lodge obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of London in 1875 and the Doctor of Science degree in 1887.
In 1890 a French physicist, Édouard Branly, showed that loose iron filings in a glass tube coalesce, or 'cohere', under the influence of radiated electric waves. To this basic design Lodge added a 'trembler', a device that shook the filings loose between waves thus restoring the device's sensitivity. Connected to a receiving circuit, this improved coherer detected Morse code signals transmitted by radio wave and enabled them to be transcribed on paper by an inker.
Lodge's device, first demonstrated at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1894 at Oxford University, one year before Marconi's first broadcast of 1895, quickly became the standard detector in early wireless telegraph receivers. It was outmoded the following decade by magnetic, electrolytic, and crystal detectors. Lodge also obtained patents in 1897 for the use of inductors and capacitors to adjust the frequency of wireless transmitters and receivers. He also did other scientific investigations on lightning, the source of the electromotive force in the voltaic cell, electrolysis, and the application of electricity to the dispersal of fog and smoke (the, now familiar, ioniser?).
Lodge married Miss Mary F.A. Marshall and the couple had twelve children, six boys and six girls.
Lodge is also remembered for his studies of life after death. He first began to study psychical phenomena (chiefly telepathy) in the late 1880s. After his son, Raymond, was killed in World War I, September 14 1915, Lodge visited several psychics and wrote about the experience in a number of books, including the best-selling "Raymond, or Life and Death" (1916).
Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge died on August 22, 1940 in Lake, near Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Before he died, Sir Oliver declared that he would prove the existence of an afterlife by making public appearances to the living after his death. No such appearances have been made. He is buried at St. Michael's Church, Wilsford (Lake), Wiltshire.