Father of Television, The

The nickname of Philo T. (Taylor) Farnsworth, an American inventor and television pioneer who along with other inventors were responsible for developing an all-electronic television system. He was the first to demonstrate such a system to the public.


In 1927, Philo T. Farnsworth filed for his first television patent, beating out the famed RCA Company for the patent of the image dissection tube, but later lost his patent battles with RCA.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, he founded Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation in 1938 and manufactured related components until 1951, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Comedian Johnny Carson once said of him: “If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.”

Despite his contributions to the development of television, Farnsworth said of the invention: “There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.”

Born on August 19, 1906 in Indian Creek (Beaver), Utah, Philo T. Farnsworth died on March 11, 1971 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  A statue of Philo T. Farnsworth stands outside the old Beaver County Courthouse in Beaver, Utah.

Note: Philo’s wife, Elma G. “Pem” Gardner Farnsworth was the first person to appear on television. She was called the “Mother of Television” and “The First Woman of TV.”

She was on Philo’s technical team in San Francisco when her husband demonstrated his invention on September 7, 1927.  A 3.5-inch-square image of his wife with her eyes closed was transmitted on Oct. 19, 1929.

Born near Vernal, Utah, on Feb. 25, 1908, Elma died on Thursday, April 27, 2006 in Bountiful, Utah at age 98.

Note:  Another early TV pioneer (also called “The Father of Television”) is US physicist and inventor Vladimir Kosma Zworykin of Wilkinsburg, PA (actually born in Russia). He designed the “iconoscope,” the photocell “eye” of the early TV camera. His device was the first element necessary in the development of an all-electronic television system. His patent application (No. 2,141,059) was filed December 29, 1923.


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Electronics, TV & Movie Industry

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