The Last Lone Inventor: How Philo T. Farnsworth Invented Television and Died Penniless

One of the books that has been on my reading list for a while now but that I just haven’t been able to get to is “The Last Lone Inventor” by Evan I. Schwartz which details the invention of Television by Philo T. Farnsworth.

As the story goes the major labs were having a hard time making television work when farmhand Philo T. Farnsworth noticed the horizontal lines drawn across his field by a plow. Eventually this led to the invention of the scanning cathode ray tube (CRT) commonly called television. What followed is a tale of intrigue, deceit and a lengthy courtroom battle pitting radio giant RCA and broadcasting king David Sarnoff against the “Last Lone Inventor”.

Both Sarnoff and Farnsworth died in 1971, and the contrast couldn’t have been greater. Farnsworth was broke, severely depressed, and largely forgotten, while Sarnoff left behind a bountiful estate and was widely commemorated as a pioneer and visionary.

Wired has an adaptation of the book on their website which is worth a read, of course if you’re really interested be sure to check out “The Last Lone Inventor” by Evan I. Schwartz.

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