The Birth of Television, 100 Years Later

By August 19, 2006Innovation

Today marks the centennial of the birth of a true innovator, Philo T. Farnsworth.


Ah, yes, we thought you’d never ask.

Very few may recall that it was Mr. Farnsworth who actually invented television.

He conducted the first successful demonstration of electronic television on September 7, 1927. At age 21, the self-taught genius transmitted the image of a horizontal line to a receiver in the next room.

Unfortunately, history has long forgotten this man. He only made one appearance on television. He was a mystery guest on the CBS game show I’ve Got a Secret in 1957. He fielded questions from the celebrity panelists as they tried in vain to guess his secret (“I invented electronic television”).

In 1971, Philo Farnsworth died at age 64. But his wife, Elma “Pem” Farnsworth, who had worked by her husband’s side throughout his tortured career, continued fighting to gain him his rightful place in history, until her death this year at 98.

Its hard to imagine life without television so when you turn on your TV today, give thanks to Mr. Farnsworth making it all possible.