Academic journal article Journalism History

Philo T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television

Academic journal article Journalism History

Philo T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television

Article excerpt

Godfrey, Donald G. Philo T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2001. 360 pp. $30.

The Final Jeopardy Answer: The Father of Television. The Question: Who was Philo T. Farnsworth? While Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison, George Eastman, Samuel Morse, and Alexander Graham Bell are easily identified as pioneer communication technologists, Farnsworth is rarely recognized.

Donald Godfrey has written a book about a nearly forgotten innovator that he prefaces as a biography of a man whose life was inseparable from his work. While it is not a book that will settle arguments about who was first with the technology of television, it offers an excellent chronology of electric media and where Farnsworth's accomplishments fit into history.

Even before his teen-age years, Farnsworth knew his niche in life would be as a scientist. Without the confines of legal or corporate pressures, and with an insatiable hunger for science, he would dream and experiment with science projects relentlessly. One of his dreams was "radio-vision," and he drew schematics of an electrical picture-processing unit in high school in 1922. The development of this dream would consume him from then onward.

With the success of commercial radio, coupled with fierce competition between the deep-pockets research and development labs of RCA, General Electric, Bell Labs, and others to fund research and experimentation that would take broadcasting to the vision level, the invention of television was imminent. This makes Farnsworth's achievements even more impressive.

He had a western independence and defiance of big corporate pressures. …

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