The Last Lone Inventor:
A Tale of Genius, Deceit,
and the Birth of Television
I love studying the history of science and seldom has a book on this topic read more like a novel. The mind of young genius Philo T. Farnsworth seems to be overflowing with ideas almost from birth. The timing is right for he comes of age just as the information age is being transformed from the print medium that ruled the nineteenth century to audio and video that will rule the twentieth century. Many men have laid claim to the title "The Father of Television," but Philo T. Farnsworth is the true genius behind what may be the most influential invention of our time. Farnsworth ended up a footnote in history yet he was the first to demonstrate an electronic process for scanning, transmitting and receiving moving images, a discovery that changed the way we live. Unfortunately Farnsworth, the "lone inventor", comes up against David Sarnoff the media mogul who uses his control over radio leverage the same control over the beginnings of television. Their battle is epic and Evan Schwartz tells the story so well that it kept me interested both through the discoveries and the disaster (for Farnsworth) that followed. Adding to my enjoyment was the opportunity to see a production of Aaron Sorkin's play, The Farnsworth Invention, based in part on Farnsworth's life.
The Last Lone Inventor by Evan I. Schwartz. HarperCollins, New York. 2002
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