A Note from the Author....

Athena weeps... the Electromagnetic Spectrum Has the Blues...

These are the first words I ever read about Philo T. Farnsworth. They appeared in a 1973 issue of a "guerilla video" magazine called "Radical Software." Originally published out of New York by an organization called The Raindance Foundation, Radical Software Volume 2 Number 3 was published out of San Francisco and called "VideoCity," in recognition of the seminal role The City By The Bay had played nearly 50 years earlier as the birthplace of the medium.

Edited by Philip G. Gietzen, the centerpiece of "VideoCity" a poem by Max Crosley entitled "The Electromagnetic Spectrum Blues." Crosley lived in the isolated, hippie-holdout town of Bolinas, California where he was a neighbor and personal friend of Farnsworth's oldest son, Philo T. Farnsworth III. Through this friendship with Philo III, Crosley was one of the few people who knew of the older Farnsworth's contributions, and shared his friend's grief when the elder Farnsworth died in 1971.

I read VideoCity and "The ElectroMagnetic Spectrum..." shortly after graduating from Antioch College in 1973 and moving to the west coast to seek my fortune in the TeeVee business (I even had an old Volkswagen with personalized plates that said "TEEVEE"). . A couple months later I was rummaging through the stacks of the Santa Monica public library when I discovered a book called "The Story of Television" by one George Everson, which recounted in detail the story of the man I'd read about in Crosley's poem.

A few months after that, while working for an ambitious video-production company in Burbank, I mentioned to my surprised employer that Philo T. Farnsworth was the inventor of television, and a few days later we were on the road to Gualala, CA, on the Mendocino coast, to find George Everson (who was in his early 90's at the time) to acquire the movie rights to his book. A few weeks after that, my employer and then-future-ex-wife and I ventured to Salt Lake City, where we met Pem Farnsworth and two of her sons, Philo III and Kent, and began what has been a long and rewardingl relationship.

(Philo III - an inventor in his own right - died in 1987, but I remain in contact with Kent - 52 yrs old- and Pem, who turned 94 in February, 2002.)

Sometime during this period - mid 1970s - I stumbled into an electronics parts store in Burbank California and discovered a 1948 Farnsworth Television set, which I purchased for $50. I have owned it ever since, though it now lives at a previous residence in Hawaii (where I lived from 1980 to 1992). As late as 1979, the set still produced a picture, and we plugged a video camera into it, trained the camera on a vintage photo of Farnsworth, and created the image that provides the opening illustration for "Farnovision.com."

You are probably asking now... "why 'Farnovision' ?" Easy: one day a friend saw my old Farnsworth set and wondered aloud, "if TV was invented by Farnsworth, then why isn't it called "Farnovision?" The name stuck. We've been calling that old Farnsworth receiver "The Farnovision" ever since, or just "The Farno."

I have met many intriguing people in my pursuit of the Farnsworth legacy, including many of the original "lab gang" who joined forces with us to recreate the original Image Dissector on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the first successful electronic video transmission.

I guess the whole experience came full circle for me in the spring of 1990, when I met Max Crosley for the first time as a statue of Farnsworth was unveiled under the Rotunda of the Nations Capitol in Washington DC, a gift from the State of Utah to the Capitol's Statuary Hall. It was wonderful to finally meet the man who's elegy had set me off on this strange and wonderful oddyssey.

Max Crosley died in Bolinas, California in 1994.

Thanks Max, for your inspiration.

Paul Schatzkin
(updated) August 12, 2002

for more background on this story, read "The Story of the Book" from "The Boy Who Invented Television"

 


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