Thirteen-year-old Philo Farnsworth came up with the concept of live transmission of moving images by zipping electrons back and forth on a screen—just as he was doing, back and forth, in harvesting a potato field. Barely in his 20s, Farnsworth moved from theory to practice with what he called an image dissector.
Philo Farnsworth was 11 when his family loaded three covered wagons and moved to a farm near Rigby in eastern Idaho. Cresting a ridge, young Farnsworth, at the reins of one wagon, surveyed the homestead below and saw wires linking the buildings. “This place has electricity!” he exclaimed. Philo was obsessed about the electricity, and soon he was an expert at fixing anything electrical that went wrong.
The day when his family settled near Rigby in 1919 was a pivotal moment in young Farnsworth’s life that led to technology on which television is based.
The next pivotal moment came two years later when Philo Farnsworth was 13. By chance he ran across a magazine article saying that scientists were working on ways to add pictures to radio but they couldn’t figure out how. He then went out to hitch the horses to a harvesting machine to bring in the potatoes. As he guided the horses back and forth across the field, up one row, down the next, he visualized how moving pictures could be captured live and transmitted to a faraway place. If the light that enables people to see could be converted to electrons and then transmitted one at a time, but very quickly as a beam, back and forth on a surface, then, perhaps, transmitting pictures over the airwaves could work.
The ideas simmered a few months and then, when he was 14, Farnsworth chalked a complicated diagram for “electronic television” on his chemistry teacher’s chalkboard.
Farnsworth’s native? intelligence, earnestness, and charm helped to win over the people around him. When he was 19, working in Salt Lake City, Farnsworth found a man with connections to San Francisco investors. With the investors’ backing, the third pivotal moment in Farnsworth’s work occurred; he set up a lab in Los Angeles, and later in San Francisco, and put his drawings and theories to work. In 1927, with hand-blown tubes and hand-soldered connections, Farnsworth had a gizmo he called the image dissector. It picked up the image of a glass slide and transmitted it. The Idaho farm boy had invented television.
Writing Prompt Applying Your Media Literacy –Electrical Technology
How is persistence of vision employed differently in television and movies?
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