- NAME: Philo T. Farnsworth
- OCCUPATION: Inventor
- BIRTH DATE: August 19, 1906
- DEATH DATE: March 11, 1971
- EDUCATION: Rigby High School, Brigham Young University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Beaver, Utah
- PLACE OF DEATH: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Full Name: Philo Taylor Farnsworth
- AKA: Philo T. Farnsworth
- AKA: Philo Farnsworth
Best Known For
Philo T. Farnsworth was an American inventor best known as a pioneer of television technology.
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Born in Beaver, Utah, on August 19, 1906, Philo T. Farnsworth was a talented scientist from a young age, having began inventing in grade school. In 1938, he unveiled a prototype of the first all-electric television, and went on to lead research in nuclear fusion. Despite his continued scientific success, Farnsworth was dogged by lawsuits and died, in debt, in Salt Lake City on March 11, 1971.
Inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth was born on August 19, 1906, in Beaver, Utah. He was born in a log cabin constructed by his grandfather, a Mormon pioneer. An amateur scientist at a young age, Farnsworth converted his family's home appliances to electric power during his high school years and won a national contest with his original invention of a tamper-proof lock. In his chemistry class in Rigby, Idaho, Farnsworth sketched out an idea for a vacuum tube that would revolutionize television—although neither his teacher nor his fellow students grasped the implications of his concept.
Farnsworth continued his studies at Brigham Young University, where he matriculated in 1922. He was forced to drop out following the death of his father two years later. His plans and experiments continued nonetheless. By 1926, he was able to raise the funds to continue his scientific work and move to San Francisco with his new wife, Elma "Pem" Gardner Farnsworth. The following year, he unveiled his all-electronic television prototype—the first of its kind—made possible by a video camera tube or "image dissector." This was the same device that Farnsworth had sketched in his chemistry class as a teenager.
Farnsworth rejected the first offer he received from RCA to purchase the rights to his device. He instead accepted a position at Philco in Philadelphia, moving across the country with his wife and young children. Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, Farnsworth fought legal charges that his inventions were in violation of a patent filed prior to his by the inventor Vladimir Zworkyin. RCA, which owned the rights to Zworkyin's patents, supported these claims throughout many trials and appeals, with considerable success. In 1933, the embattled Farnsworth left Philco to pursue his own avenues of research.
Farnsworth's contributions to science after leaving Philco were significant and far-reaching. Some were unrelated to television, including a process he developed to sterilize milk using radio waves. He also continued to push his ideas regarding television transmission. In 1938, he founded the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. RCA was ultimately able to market and sell the first electronic televisions for a home audience, after paying Farnsworth a fee of a million dollars.
After accepting the deal from RCA, Farnsworth sold his company but continued his research on technologies including radar, the infrared telescope, and nuclear fusion. He moved back to Utah in 1967 to run a fusion lab at Brigham Young University.
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Everyday life is constantly changing and improving thanks to the ingenious ideas of famous inventors past and present. What once seemed impossible is now possible, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s forward-thinking concepts for flying machines (airplanes), Benjamin Franklin’s useful inventions like bifocals and the lightning rod, and Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary “talking machine” (telephone).
The modern era has also produced life-changing advancements whether in science, medicine, the arts, digital media. Music-makers can thank Les Paul for his amazing guitars, while Elon Musk launched the world's first commercial space ship, Steve Jobs' Apple products have made technology beautiful, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page's Google has changed how the world searches for information. These and so many other famous inventors and their creations changed the course of human history. See all inventors.
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