Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who Invented The TV

A rather interesting question, who invented the TV? According to some historians, Philo Farnsworth is credited with having invented the TV because he demonstrated the first actual transmission of moving pictures in September of 1927 using a device he built that created and manipulated an electron beam. He was awarded a patent for his device in 1930. So, who invented the TV?

According to his biography, when Farnsworth was a fourteen-year-old high school student he was fascinated by electrons and electronics. Young Farnsworth begged his science teacher, Justin Tolman, to allow him to sit in on a senior level electronics course. It was during that class that Farnsworth came up with the idea that an electron beam could scan pictures by moving back and forth over the picture collecting the images one pixel at a time and then transmit the data to remote screens where they could be recreated as pictures. That is a pretty basic description of how television works. At fifteen Farnsworth was admitted to Brigham Young University where he studied electronics. He was one of the most advanced students there, but later had to drop out when his father died so he could return home to run the family farm. He found private financial supporters so he could work on creating the machine that would make his idea come to life. So, who invented the TV?

Meanwhile Vladimir Zworykin who worked for RCA patented a similar device. After Farnsworth demonstrated his device in 1927, RCA wanted to produce the device but David Sarnoff, an executive at RCA didn't want to pay Farnsworth a royalty on the invention since his company had a patent on a similar device. So he sued Farnsworth for patent violation. So, who invented the TV?
Although Zworykin and RCA did own a patent on a similar device, there was no evidence they had ever built a working transmitter or receiver from the design. Justin Tolman testified on Farnsworth�s behalf and he still had Farnsworth�s original drawings. So, who invented the TV?
Farnsworth won the case. RCA appealed and lost a second time. Such a fuss over who invented the TV. About that time, WWII started and production of TV sets was stopped. After WWII was over, Farnsworth's patents expired and RCA purchased them and launched a publicity campaign proclaiming Sarnoff and Zworykin as the inventors of television. Have you decided who invented the TV?

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