Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farnsworth Remembered

For years, the name Philo T Farnsworth had been mostly lost to history. Through the tireless, decades-long efforts of his widow Pem, more and more people know of his accomplishments, and that once-forgotten name has started to turn up in some most unusual places. Among the tributes to Philo:

*In Matt Groening's animated series Futurama, the professor's name is Hubert J. Farnsworth. (The "J" is a tribute to animator Jay Ward. Many of Ward's and Groening's characters have "J" as a middle initial.)

*A free app for the iPhone allows users to connect with other users watching the same TV episodes on their devices. It's called 'Philo'.

*In "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1989 cult comedy UHF, the engineer at the TV station is named Philo. (He's played by Anthony Geary of soap opera fame)

*In the Syfy series Warehouse 13, characters communicate on an odd-looking two-way device called a Farnsworth. (In the fictional history of that show, the device was created by Philo himself, and one of the characters owns the original model, known as "Farnsworth's Farnsworth".)

*At least two awards are named for him. Philo Awards are given in the midwest to honor outstanding achievements in public access programming. On a larger scale, the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award is a special Emmy award for companies than have made historic contributions to television engineering. In 2009, NASA received the award for its 1969 broadcasts of the Apollo 11 landing.

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