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The world remembers Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers. But what about Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, an innovation that did as much as any other to shape the twentieth century? That question lies at the heart of The Boy Genius and the Mogul, Daniel Stashower's captivating chronicle of television's true inventor, the battle he faced to capitalize on hi The world remembers Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers. But what about Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, an innovation that did as much as any other to shape the twentieth century? That question lies at the heart of The Boy Genius and the Mogul, Daniel Stashower's captivating chronicle of television's true inventor, the battle he faced to capitalize on his breakthrough, and the powerful forces that resulted in the collapse of his dreams. The son of a Mormon farmer, Farnsworth was born in 1906 in a single-room log cabin on an isolated homestead in Utah. The Farnsworth family farm had no radio, no telephone, and no electricity. Yet, motivated by the stories of scientists and inventors he read about in the science magazines of the day, young Philo set his sights on becoming an inventor. By his early teens, Farnsworth had become an inveterate tinkerer, able to repair broken farm equipment when no one else could. It was inevitable that when he read an article about a new idea -- for the transmission of pictures by radio waves--that he would want to attempt it himself. One day while he was walking through a hay field, Farnsworth took note of the straight, parallel lines of the furrows and envisioned a system of scanning a visual image line by line and transmitting it to a remote screen. He soon sketched a diagram for an early television camera tube. It was 1921 and Farnsworth was only fourteen years old. Farnsworth went on to college to pursue his studies of electrical engineering but was forced to quit after two years due to the death of his father. Even so, he soon managed to persuade a group of California investors to set him up in his own research lab where, in 1927, he produced the first all-electronic television image and later patented his invention. While Farnsworth's invention was a landmark, it was also the beginning of a struggle against an immense corporate power that would consume much of his life. That corporate power was embodied by a legendary media mogul, RCA President and NBC founder David Sarnoff, who claimed that his chief scientist had invented a mechanism for television prior to Farnsworth's. Thus the boy genius and the mogul were locked in a confrontation over who would control the future of television technology and the vast fortune it represented. Farnsworth was enormously outmatched by the media baron and his army of lawyers and public relations people, and, by the 1940s, Farnsworth would be virtually forgotten as television's actual inventor, while Sarnoff and his chief scientist would receive the credit. Restoring Farnsworth to his rightful place in history, The Boy Genius and the Mogul presents a vivid portrait of a self-taught scientist whose brilliance allowed him to "capture light in a bottle." A rich and dramatic story of one man’s perseverance and the remarkable events leading up to the launch of television as we know it, The Boy Genius and the Mogul shines new light on a major turning point in American history. From the Hardcover edition.


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The world remembers Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers. But what about Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, an innovation that did as much as any other to shape the twentieth century? That question lies at the heart of The Boy Genius and the Mogul, Daniel Stashower's captivating chronicle of television's true inventor, the battle he faced to capitalize on hi The world remembers Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers. But what about Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, an innovation that did as much as any other to shape the twentieth century? That question lies at the heart of The Boy Genius and the Mogul, Daniel Stashower's captivating chronicle of television's true inventor, the battle he faced to capitalize on his breakthrough, and the powerful forces that resulted in the collapse of his dreams. The son of a Mormon farmer, Farnsworth was born in 1906 in a single-room log cabin on an isolated homestead in Utah. The Farnsworth family farm had no radio, no telephone, and no electricity. Yet, motivated by the stories of scientists and inventors he read about in the science magazines of the day, young Philo set his sights on becoming an inventor. By his early teens, Farnsworth had become an inveterate tinkerer, able to repair broken farm equipment when no one else could. It was inevitable that when he read an article about a new idea -- for the transmission of pictures by radio waves--that he would want to attempt it himself. One day while he was walking through a hay field, Farnsworth took note of the straight, parallel lines of the furrows and envisioned a system of scanning a visual image line by line and transmitting it to a remote screen. He soon sketched a diagram for an early television camera tube. It was 1921 and Farnsworth was only fourteen years old. Farnsworth went on to college to pursue his studies of electrical engineering but was forced to quit after two years due to the death of his father. Even so, he soon managed to persuade a group of California investors to set him up in his own research lab where, in 1927, he produced the first all-electronic television image and later patented his invention. While Farnsworth's invention was a landmark, it was also the beginning of a struggle against an immense corporate power that would consume much of his life. That corporate power was embodied by a legendary media mogul, RCA President and NBC founder David Sarnoff, who claimed that his chief scientist had invented a mechanism for television prior to Farnsworth's. Thus the boy genius and the mogul were locked in a confrontation over who would control the future of television technology and the vast fortune it represented. Farnsworth was enormously outmatched by the media baron and his army of lawyers and public relations people, and, by the 1940s, Farnsworth would be virtually forgotten as television's actual inventor, while Sarnoff and his chief scientist would receive the credit. Restoring Farnsworth to his rightful place in history, The Boy Genius and the Mogul presents a vivid portrait of a self-taught scientist whose brilliance allowed him to "capture light in a bottle." A rich and dramatic story of one man’s perseverance and the remarkable events leading up to the launch of television as we know it, The Boy Genius and the Mogul shines new light on a major turning point in American history. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for The Boy Genius and the Mogul: The Untold Story of Television

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is a very interesting book about the invention of television. Some of the technical dialogue of chemistry and physics was beyond my understanding, but my understanding has grown.....some.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Voorhees

    This is a compelling and a necessary account of television's REAL origins (both human and otherwise). Stashower's book is, to its credit, multi-layered. Within its narrative are the tension between city & country (David Sarnoff, a Russian emigre who ingratiated himself with America, was the city slicker. Philo Farnsworth, in contrast, was the erudite bumpkin). Interspersed with the business and scientific machinations are numerous technical explanations. They force the reader to create pictures This is a compelling and a necessary account of television's REAL origins (both human and otherwise). Stashower's book is, to its credit, multi-layered. Within its narrative are the tension between city & country (David Sarnoff, a Russian emigre who ingratiated himself with America, was the city slicker. Philo Farnsworth, in contrast, was the erudite bumpkin). Interspersed with the business and scientific machinations are numerous technical explanations. They force the reader to create pictures in their mind of what's being explained (such as a cathode ray). BOY GENIUS is VERY technical. Yet ultimately, Stashower effectively balances technology, passion and business sense in this worthwhile book. Philo Taylor Farnsworth should never be forgotten.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Who invented the light bulb? Who was the first man to step foot on the moon? Who invented TV? Why is so little known about the origins of Television? A very interesting account of the different people who were in intense competion. The first working all-electronic TV was built by Philo Farnsworth who had a working model in 1927 and was assigned the patents after a long drawn out battle with RCA with very deep pockets. The Mogul was the RCA CEO David Sarnoff, a huge name at the time, who also fou Who invented the light bulb? Who was the first man to step foot on the moon? Who invented TV? Why is so little known about the origins of Television? A very interesting account of the different people who were in intense competion. The first working all-electronic TV was built by Philo Farnsworth who had a working model in 1927 and was assigned the patents after a long drawn out battle with RCA with very deep pockets. The Mogul was the RCA CEO David Sarnoff, a huge name at the time, who also founded NBC. It must have been very exciting to be one of the people who were able to receive some of those first broadcasts by each of these two teams. Farnsworth lived to see Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, over the TV. His comment to his wife Pem, "this has made it all worthwhile"

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Yes, this is a good story, although there is no way to check to see how much of this is true since there is only a short list of sources in the back and no notes in the text to check all the quotes that are used. To supplement the book, I would recommend seeing Aaron Sorkin's "Farnsworth Invention" on Broadway, the show is not the authoritative biography on either Fransworth or Sarnoff, but it is an excellent play. The book's writing is good, although sometimes overly complex with its attempts t Yes, this is a good story, although there is no way to check to see how much of this is true since there is only a short list of sources in the back and no notes in the text to check all the quotes that are used. To supplement the book, I would recommend seeing Aaron Sorkin's "Farnsworth Invention" on Broadway, the show is not the authoritative biography on either Fransworth or Sarnoff, but it is an excellent play. The book's writing is good, although sometimes overly complex with its attempts to incorporate too much information into a single chapter of the book, ultimately causing reader confusion.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Where did television come from? Did it always exist? Did it magically appear with Lucy making funny faces and cutting capers with Ethel and friends. Did you catch that Mitzi Gaynor special in the late 60s? Does General Electric still sponsor your Thursday night fix? Will Get Smart make you smarter, or Land of the Lost help you find enlightenment? Who financed the creation of television broadcasts, and put a chicken in every pot, er, a tv in every living room on which to show the stuff? This book Where did television come from? Did it always exist? Did it magically appear with Lucy making funny faces and cutting capers with Ethel and friends. Did you catch that Mitzi Gaynor special in the late 60s? Does General Electric still sponsor your Thursday night fix? Will Get Smart make you smarter, or Land of the Lost help you find enlightenment? Who financed the creation of television broadcasts, and put a chicken in every pot, er, a tv in every living room on which to show the stuff? This book won't answer these questions. Well, actually it will answer some of them. Anywho, a good story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim George

    Philo was a genius - "Pemme there is another woman in my life, and her name is television". David Sarnoff is a jerk. What a great story about TVs humble beginning. Man's race to send sight waves through the air! Philo was a genius - "Pemme there is another woman in my life, and her name is television". David Sarnoff is a jerk. What a great story about TVs humble beginning. Man's race to send sight waves through the air!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Triste

    Tedious.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    A lot of information in here I knew nothing about. A sad story, in which the windmills defeat an especially prodigal Don Quixote.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Saenz

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  15. 4 out of 5

    J.D.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luc

  17. 5 out of 5

    Slj

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alan John

  19. 5 out of 5

    Exodus Facey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Roberts

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris Seelbach

  22. 4 out of 5

    John Ervin

  23. 4 out of 5

    whatthedeuce

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ramirez

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Miller

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Lohrman

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ron

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beaumont Vance

  29. 5 out of 5

    Professor Miriam

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vierblij

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