The most complete
biography of Philo T. Farnsworth:
The Boy Who Invented
A Story of Inspiration, Persistence, and
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
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.
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
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: .
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
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 )
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,
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, farnovision.com 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.
genius that is reawakened
every time you turn on your TV.
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'original edition' is a trade paperback; there never was
a hard-cover of this title