13 interesting facts about Philo Farnsworth- The Father of Television

1. Philo Farnsworth was a famous American inventor who was credited for inventing the first all-electronic television.

Therefore, he is mostly known as the father of television. It is also important to mention that he was an ordinary farm boy who could elevate himself to the fame.

2. Before moving to Idaho as a young boy, he lived in a house without an electricity in Beaver, Utah.

Only after moving to Rigby, Idaho with his family, young Farnsworth had a chance to live in a house that was wired to electricity. He was so glad about it and got fascinated with the science behind the electricity.

3. From the early childhood years, Farnsworth was interested in electronics.

He liked to read science magazines. Apart from being an avid reader, he fixed old and abandoned generators. Even, helped his mother to turn her old hand-operated sewing machine into the electronic one.

4. He was admitted to Birmingham Young University in Utah as a special student while he was still in a High School.

But, he wasn’t able to continue his education at the University because his father passed away from Pneumonia and as the oldest son in the family, he needed to quit the University in order to focus on providing for the family.

5. Philo Farnsworth invented thief-proof lock at the age of 13

He entered that invention to the National contest. The Science and Invention Magazine chose his project as the winner and granted him $25 in prizes.

6. He got his first encouragement from his high school chemistry teacher, Justin Tolman.

Although Television making was not a part of the high school curriculum, young Farnsworth shared his ideas and drawings with his teachers. One of those teachers was Justin Tolman. He encouraged him to turn his drawings into reality. Tolman kept friendly discussions with him on the subject matter whenever Farnsworth came to him with a bunch of questions.

7. He found two local investors who gave him the first financial support to turn his ideas into reality.

George Everson and Leslie Gorrell invested money in order to help him to build a facility where he can build his electronic television. After getting the financial backing, Farnsworth moved to Green Street in San Francisco where gathered suitable scientists and established a lab.



8. Farnsworth made his first television transmission on September 27, 1927.

After so many failed attempts, Farnsworth along with his teammates made their first television transmission on September 27, 1927. The first message transmitted on the device was directed to Gorell (one of the investors). The message was “THE DAMNED THING WORKS”. At the same year, Farnsworth applied for a patent for the invention.

9. Investors wanted to see “some dollars” from the project and Philo Farnsworth showed them a dollar sign.

One of the hardest parts of developing the all-electronic television was to keep a balance between the science and the investors. Reportedly, investors, Everson and Gorell, demanded to see “some dollars” as a return for their investment. Farnsworth showed “the dollar” in 1928, but not the real one. He transmitted the dollar sign through the tv screen that he was developing. That move helped him to win some time in order to further develop his television.

10. There was a rivalry between Philo Farnsworth and RCA (Radio Corporation of America).

At first, RCA offered Farnsworth $100,000 for his project because his image dissector was superior to the one developed by Vladimir Zworykin of RCA. That offer, however, got rejected by Farnsworth. Then, the rivalry began. It led to the series of court cases, in which RCA tried to invalidated Farnsworth’s patents. However, cases were solved in favor of Farnsworth, and RCA agreed to pay royalties for Farnsworth’s patents.

11. He left the U.S. Naval Academy, thinking that his patents for his future invention will be owned by Government.

After graduating from high school, Farnsworth had a rough time finding a job. So, he decided to join the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland where he studied only a few months. He was granted an honorable release from the Navy due to his mother’s request to a Senator to return his son to the family as “a chief breadwinner”.

12. Farnsworth earned over 300 patents during his lifetime.

Some of those patents are still valid today both nationally and internationally. Most of his patents were granted for inventing the electronic and mechanical devices. Apart from the invention of all-electronic television, Farnsworth also invented the first simple electronic microscope, black light (ultraviolet light), cathode-ray-tube, and he also paved the way for the invention of modern-day radars.

13. Philo Farnsworth had depression and started consuming alcohol quite often.

By 1970, his company experienced a series of financial troubles. The situation eventually led him to halt his researches. Experiencing several years of depression, Farnsworth has begun abusing alcohol, probably, to ease his troubles. He died of pneumonia on March 11, 1971. However, his undeniably valuable invention will never die in the hearts of millions of  TV watchers.

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By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
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