Philo Farnsworth

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Beaver, Utah
Birth Sign
Beaver, Utah

American inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth created the first completely operational all-electronic picture pickup device (also known as a video camera tube) and the first fully operational and comprehensive all-electronic TV system. Additionally, he was the first to demonstrate the technology to the general public. Farnsworth, who created a television system with a camera and receiver, went on to commercially construct the system at Fort Wayne, Indiana, under the name Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation. A modest nuclear fusion device called the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor was also created by the renowned American inventor. While not practical enough to produce nuclear energy, this device does function as a workable source of neutrons. The gastroscope, astronomical telescope, baby incubator, and electron microscope were also made possible because to Farnsworth’s innovations. He received various honors and prizes as a result of all these accomplishments. Numerous tributes have been erected in his honor, and a few streets and awards have been named in his honor; two of these include The Philo Awards (an annual public-access television cable competition) and “The Genius of Green Street.” To commemorate the famous innovator, the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco erected a statue of him.

Early Childhood & Life

One of the five children of Serena Amanda Bastian and Lewis Edwin Farnsworth, Philo T. Farnsworth was born on August 19, 1906, in Utah, United States. He had two sisters, Agnes among them, and two brothers.
He had his first telephone chat with a relative who lived out of state, and that talk sparked an interest in technology. He created a magnetized car lock that helped him win the $25 first-place prize in a pulp magazine competition.

He was an outstanding student in physics and chemistry at Rigby High School. He once gave his teacher their schematics and sketches that covered numerous blackboards to demonstrate how the practical implementation of the electronic television system could be achieved.

After that, Farnsworth attended Brigham Young High School, where he ultimately received his diploma in 1924. While still in high school, his father passed away, leaving young Philo to take care of his family on his own.
Later, he went to Brigham Young University to study, and the National Radio Institute certified him as a Junior Radio-Tricia.

The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis then enlisted Farnsworth after he received the nation’s second-best score on academy exams. He left the academy, though, in order to enroll in advanced science courses at Brigham Young University.

Farnsworth met George Everson and Leslie Gorrell through his participation in the University of Utah employment placement service. Later, the pair provided funding for Farnsworth to establish a laboratory and conduct his tests as part of his early television research.

Philo Farnsworth’s Career

Philo Farnsworth’s camera tube sent the first image to a receiver located in a different lab room in September 1927. He worked on honing his methods over the following two years and used his television system to broadcast the first-ever live human images.

Farnsworth rejected RCA’s (Radio Corporation of America) David Sarnoff’s offer of $100,000 for his patents in 1931. He and his family moved to Philadelphia in June of that year, where he started working for the Philco Company.

John Logie Baird, an inventor who had made the first-ever public demonstration of a functional TV system utilizing an electro-mechanical image system, was a man Philo Farnsworth met in 1932. Baird showed Farnsworth his mechanical method in an effort to develop the electronic television receivers.
The American inventor traveled to Europe in 1934 and negotiated a deal with the German company Goerz-Bosch-Fernseh.

He went back to his lab to carry out more studies after that. His business began regularly broadcasting entertainment programs on an experimental basis in 1936. In the same year, Farnsworth created a method for sterilizing milk with radio waves in collaboration with biologists from the University of Pennsylvania. He also created an aircraft and ship fog-penetrating beam.

He became the director of research at his own organization, Farnsworth Television, and Radio Corporation, which he founded in Indiana in 1938. The multi-year licensing arrangement for the $1 million TV patent from 1927 was approved by RCA a year later.

International Telephone and Telegraph purchased the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation in 1951 (ITT). Farnsworth’s creation of the PPI Projector, which later evolved into the precursor to the modern air traffic control system, was his most significant contribution to ITT.

In order to pursue his fusion research at Brigham Young University, Farnsworth and his family relocated to Utah in 1967. He then extended an invitation to his team members to travel with him to Salt Lake City as part of the Philo T. Farnsworth Associates team (PTFA). By 1970, PTFA had been unable to obtain the necessary funding, and a year later it was dissolved.

Philo’s Bigger Works

Philo Farnsworth worked in the subterranean laboratory, sometimes known as “the cave,” at the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), which had offices on Pontiac Street in Fort Wayne. He proposed several ground-breaking ideas there, including an infrared telescope, a defense early warning signal, radar calibration tools, and submarine detecting equipment.

Recognition & Achievements

A plaque in Epcot’s “Inventor’s Circle” in Walt Disney World commemorates Philo Farnsworth.
He was listed as one of “The Most Important People of the Century” in Time magazine in 1999.
He received the Eagle Scout award posthumously in 2006. His wife Pem accepted this honor. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Philadelphia’s Broadcast Pioneers in the same year.

The National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol building houses a bronze statue of the American inventor.
In honor of Philo Farnsworth, Farnsworth Peak is located near the northernmost point of the Oquirrh Mountains.

Farnsworth was admitted to the San Francisco Hall of Fame on January 10, 2011. He was officially inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame two years later.
Induction into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame was also given to Farnsworth.

Personal Legacy & Life

Philo Farnsworth met Elma “Pem” Gardner while he was a college student, and they were married on May 27, 1926. Four sons were born to the couple: Russell, Kent, Philo, and Kenneth.
The latter years of the inventor were challenging. He struggled with depression for years before developing alcohol addiction. He passed away from pneumonia on March 11, 1971, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Estimated Net Worth

One of the wealthiest and most well-known engineers is Philo. Our study of data from sources including Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider indicates that Philo Farnsworth’s net worth is around $1.5 million.


One of the US commemorative postal stamps showed him.
Farnsworth appeared as a surprise guest on the CBS game program “I’ve Got a Secret” on July 3, 1957.