ALL the News about
Mormons, Mormonism
and the LDS Church
Mormon News: All the News about Mormons, Mormonism and the LDS Church
Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 29, 2000
Most Recent Week
Front Page
Local News
Arts & Entertainment
·New Products
·New Websites
·Mormon Stock Index
Letters to Editor
Continuing Coverage of:
Boston Temple
School Prayer
Julie on MTV
Robert Elmer Kleasen
About Mormon News
News by E-Mail
Weekly Summary
Submitting News
Submitting Press Releases
Volunteer Positions
Bad Link?

News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 26Sep00

Summarized by Vickie Speek

Mormon Inventor of Television Remembered

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Way back during the birth of broadcasting, a largely forgotten, but significant battle raged between a lone inventor, Philo Farnsworth, a Mormon farm boy, and David Sarnoff, the domineering head of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

Sarnoff, held an iron grip on every aspect of radio, from the patents on the device itself to the creation and distribution of programming. By 1930, he was extending his monopoly to the new frontier of transmitting moving pictures through the air. He plotted to capture the next big thing, television, and to destroy Farnsworth, the ambitious young man behind the new technology.

Farnsworth, born in 1906, in a log cabin in Utah, taught himself physics, and Einstein's theories from borrowed books and magazines that he read late into the night. At the age of 14, while he drove a horse-drawn plow down the rows of a potato field at the family's new farm in Idaho, Farnsworth dreamed up the idea for an electronic television. As he plowed the field in straight, parallel lines, he envisioned a system that would break an image into horizontal lines and reassemble those lines into a picture at the other end.

Farnsworth's idea grew into an all-out obsession. In 1926, at age 20, he and his wife set up a makeshift television lab in an old warehouse in San Francisco. Two years later, a story about Farnsworth and his invention hit the news service nationwide. Sarnoff saw it, and became determined to obtain the invention.

Sarnoff hired a spy, Vladimir Kosmo Zworykin, to get a closer look at Farnsworth's invention. Zworykin tried to reverse-engineer what he had seen, but did not make much progress. In April 1931, Sarnoff paid a surprise visit to Farnsworth himself. Farnsworth was out of town on business, so one of his associates showed Sarnoff around, and gave him a special demonstration. A short time later, Sarnoff tried to buy Farnsworth's company and patents for $100,000, but Farnsworth rejected the offer, feeling that the low-ball offer was an insult.

Sarnoff decided to break Farnsworth in patent court by launching a legal assault, which would tie up Farnsworth emotionally and financially for years. The case lasted nearly four years, slowed the development of television, and its introduction to the public, and drove Farnsworth to drink. But, his patents withstood the challenge, and Farnsworth became the undisputed inventor of television, at the age of 29.

Sarnoff lost the battle, but won the war. He orchestrated a massive public-relations campaign promoting RCA televisions, and RCA was able to capture nearly 80 percent of the television market.

Reeling from years of severe stress, Farnsworth suffered a nervous breakdown. He relocated to Indiana and began to produce television sets, but time ran out. His key patents expired in 1947, forcing him to sell the assets of his company.

Just a few months later, television began a rapid rise in popularity that took the invention from just 6,000 sets nationwide to tens of millions by the mid-1950s.


Who Really Invented Television?
Technology Review Sep/Oct00 P2
By Evan I. Schwartz


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information