Television

Today 75th anniversary of first TV demonstration

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MUMBAI: There is this thing we have about dates, anniversaries and the like. Well, unheralded and given barely a mention in the media is the 75th anniversary of the television. Surprising really, considering that a more ubiquitous appendage of modern existence can hardly be visualized.

On this day, 75 years ago (7 September, 1927) twenty-one-year-old Philo T Farnsworth performed the first successful demonstration of an all-electronic television system in his laboratory at 202 Green Street in San Francisco, USA.

Farnsworth successfully transmitted an image of a simple straight line onto the bottom of a cathode-ray-tube, proving the viability of a concept that first occurred to him while tilling a potato field six years earlier when he was just 14 years old.

In 1930, Farnsworth was awarded the fundamental patents for modern television; but he had to spend the next decade fighting off challenges to his patents and defending his vision against investors who did not share his larger dream of scientific independence.

For the past century, credit for the invention of electronic television has largely been attributed to the work of engineers at RCA, and even the encyclopedias have failed to give proper credit to television's forgotten inventor.

Author Paul Schatzkin who wrote Farnsworth's biography "The Boy Who Invented Television", which is being brought out to coincide with the anniversary, first learned about Farnsworth in 1973 through an elegy published in an obscure industry publication. Schatzkin, who at the time worked in the television industry, was surprised to find that the most powerful communications medium ever devised had largely ignored the man whose invention made it possible.

His sole appearance on national television was as a mystery guest on the CBS game show I've Got a Secret in 1957, the Associated Press has reported. He fielded questions from the celebrity panelists as they tried in vain to guess his secret ("I invented electronic television"). For stumping them, Farnsworth took home $80 and a carton of Winston cigarettes.

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