Philo Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) grew up on a farm in Beaver, Utah and was a technical prodigy from an early age.
In fact, as a 14-year-old farm boy, his inspiration for scanning an image as series of lines came from the back-and-forth motion used to plow a field.
He would then sketch out an idea of a vacuum tube in his Chemistry class. Neither his teacher nor fellow students knew the potential of what was being unlocked in Farnsworth’s mind.
While still in High School, he would enter Brighman Young University as a “special student”. But his father died, and he had to return home to support his family.
He would continue to tinker with the first concept of the television, and made his first successful electronic television transmission on September 7, 1927, and filed a patent for his system that same year.
Farnsworth would spend the next few decades tinkering and fighting lawsuits from larger companies looking to steal his technology. Even though he was the father of the television, he never made a lot of money on his invention. In fact, the lawsuits drained his bank accounts and left his company bankrupt.
The experience left him rather bitter. In his later years, he refused to even watch television.
Then in 1969, his wife forced him to sit and watch the moon landing on live television which was only possible due to one of his inventions. He told his wife, “This made it all worthwhile”.
Here is a beautiful 10-minute documentary, narrated by Philo’s great granddaughter:
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