The Invention of the Television.

Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions

In 1927, Philo Farnsworth was the first inventor to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. He transmitted the image of a dollar sign.






The Invention of the Television

Philo Farnsworth, an American engineer and inventor, was born on August 19, 1906, on Indian Creek in Beaver County, Utah.  When he was 12 years old he built an electric motor. He even produced the first electric washing machine his family had ever owned.

In 1921, while working on his father's Idaho farm, the 14-year-old Mormon had an idea. While mowing hay in rows, Philo realized an electron beam could rapidly scan a picture in horizontal rows, reproducing the image almost instantaneously. Scanning a picture using horizontal lines with an electron beam was the critical breakthrough that was needed.

Philo Farnsworth attended Brigham Young University in Utah, where he researched television picture transmission. In 1926, he co-founded Crocker Research Laboratories, which he later renamed Farnsworth Television, Inc. in 1929 (and as Farnsworth Radio and Television Corporation in 1938.

In 1927, Philo Farnsworth was the first inventor to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. He transmitted the image of a dollar sign. Farnsworth developed the dissector tube, the basis of all current electronic televisions. He filed for his first television patent in 1927 (pat#1,773,980.)

Others were also working on the invention of television too.

But young Philo was not alone. At the same time, Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin had also designed a camera that focused an image through a lens onto an array of photoelectric cells coating the end of a tube. The electrical image formed by the cells would be scanned line-by-line by an electron beam and transmitted to a cathode-ray tube.

On June 14, 1923, Charles Jenkins claimed to have invented a way to transmit silhouette images. In 1897, Karl Braun invented the cathode ray tube, still used in television sets to this day. The history of invention of television can be contributed to many great minds. It was not just a single idea that came to the fore, but rather a combination of pioneers' inventions.

Rather than an electron beam, Farnsworth's image dissector device used an "anode finger" -- a pencil-sized tube with a small aperture at the top -- to scan the picture. Magnetic coils sprayed the electrons emitted from the electrical image left to right, and line by line onto the aperture, where they were converted to an electric current.

Farnsworth applied for a patent for his image dissector in 1927. But his company was plagued by lack of money and by challenges to Farnsworth's patent from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

In 1934, the British communications company British Gaumont licensed from Farnsworth the rights to make systems based on his designs. In 1939, the American company RCA did the same. Both companies had been developing television systems of their own and recognized Farnsworth as a competitor.

RCA later hired Zworykin to ensure that RCA would control television technology. Zworykin and Sarnoff (RCA) visited Farnsworth's laboratory, but the inventor's business manager scoffed at selling the company to RCA for a meager $100,000.

In 1934 RCA demonstrated its "iconoscope," a camera tube very similar to Farnsworth's image dissector. RCA claimed it was based on a device Zworykin tried to patent in 1923 - even though the Russian had used Nipkow's old spinning disk design up until the time he visited Philo's lab.

RCA, had spent more than $10 million TV R & D. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, RCA announced the launch of commercial television even though RCA's camera was wasn't perfected, and RCA didn't own a single TV patent. Later that year, RCA was compelled to pay patent royalties to Farnsworth Radio and Television.


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