The most complete biography of Philo T. Farnsworth:

The Boy Who Invented Television
A Story of Inspiration, Persistence, and Quiet Passion

by Paul Schatzkin

The year was 1921 and he world was still adjusting to the electrical age: lights bulbs, the telephone, the phonograph, and other modern marvels were all finding their place in the cultural firmament.

Two of the most popular innovations of the era were radio and motion pictures. It seemed only a matter of time before the two were somehow merged, before pictures too would one day "fly through the air" like sound already could.

Indeed, the earliest attempts to transmit motion pictures via wireless were based on a marriage of the two, an effort that produced ungainly, electro-mechanical contraptions that tried to convert light into electricity by means of spinning disks and mirrors.

The great scientists of the day were slow to realize that it would take something more than an adaptation of the old ways of doing things to achieve the breakthrough that television required. The proposition required something radical and new -- the kind of idea that could only form in the mind of a a 14 year old farm boy.

His name, as unlikely as it sounds, was Philo T. Farnsworth, and yes, he was all of 14 years old in the summer of 1921 when he figured out how to bounce electrons back and forth in an empty jar in a way that made true television possible. With that simple but bold idea, he reached for one of the greatest prizes of the 20th century -- the patent rights to an invention that would spawn an industry and transform the world.

Five years later, in the summer of 1926, Farnsworth described his wild idea to some financiers in San Francisco who staked him to $25,000 and a year's use of a loft in San Francisco where he put his new bride, her brother, and a team of adventurous electrical engineers to work building the first television transmitting and receiving tubes.

As promised, sligntly less than a year later, on September 7, 1927, Farnsworth succesfully demonstrated the world's first all electronic television image, realizing his dream and paving the way for a new industry.

In 1930, Philo Farnsworth was awarded three patents that would ultimately prove to be the foundation for a technological revolution. But little did he know at the time of the formidable obstacles that he was about to encounter: The Radio Corporation of America and its imposing president, David Sarnoff, who was determined that his company would introduce television to the world regardless of who happened to hold the most critical patents.

And so began a titanic struggle that would pit a brilliant individual with the right idea against a corporate monolith whose business model was built around Sarnoff's insistence that "RCA doesn't pay patent royalties, we collect them."

Farnsworth's inspiration, achievement, and ensuing struggles form the basis of The Boy Who Invented Television by Paul Schatzkin. This is the book that television producer, screenwriter, and playwright Aaron Sorkin called "the best" of all the material he used as reference for his new Broadway play, The Farnsworth Invention. Mr. Sorkin is hardly alone in his praise for Paul Schatzkin's epic biography. Here's what other readers have said: .

"Turn off the TV and read this book. Philo Farnsworth is one amazing man and this book fills us with the excitement of his life and discoveries. Whether it was author Paul Schatzkin style or Philo's adventures, I was drawn to keep reading this book long after I should have been asleep." --TP ,Cedar Park, TX

"A near-definitive biography... Schatzkin has done an excellent job in covering the breadth of Farnsworth's life -- not just the battle for television, but his never-realized battle for successful fusion power.. which makes The Boy Who Invented Telelvision a vital addition to the Farnsworth canon". --LG, Dallas, TX )

"Much more interesting than anything actually on TV! This is a book that you won't be able to put down. It's much more interesting than anything you could make up! This book is a must for creative types, the self-employed, television fans, guys who hang out in Radio Shack, and anybody who loves to hear about how the underdog can come back and win it all! -- AR, Seattle WA.

"I really enjoyed this engaging biography of Philo T. Farnsworth. The science of the book was mostly understandable to a layperson, and I found myself rooting for Farnsworth all the way" -- TE, Norman OK.

The Boy Who Invented


A Story of Inspiration, Persistence, and Quiet Passion
by Paul Schatzkin

click here for excerpts
and sample chapters

In observance of the opening of the Broadway production, is pleased to offer a limited supply of the original edition* of The Boy Who Invented Television. First released on September 7, 2002 (the 75th Anniversary of the first succesful transmission), these books are autographed by the author and are available exclusively from this website.

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every time you turn on your TV.
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*the 'original edition' is a trade paperback; there never was a hard-cover of this title


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