Monday, September 27, 2010

Building an Empire

Four weeks from opening and this is what the set looks like. Larry has been doing an amazing job getting things up and going. Even I've been impressed!! Thanks also to Brian Stratton, Leroy Cupp, Bob Nees and Dan DeYonke for all your help.

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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Great Minds

Kudos to Greg Pratt for his patent worthy idea of creating business cards advertising The Farnsworth Invention!!

Just gave one of them out today. They are perfect; easy to carry and contain all the pertinent information for friends and family.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A first for NBC

This is from Sarnoff’s dedication of the RCA Exhibit Building at the 1939
World’s Fair. Sarnoff spoke in front of a television camera, with Fair visitors watching on receivers inside the building and RCA engineers monitoring the broadcast from 30 Rockefeller


Today we are on the eve of launching a new industry based on imagination, on scientific
research and accomplishment. We are now ready to fulfill the promise made to the public last
October, when after years of research, laboratory experiments, and tests in the field costing
millions of dollars, the Radio Corporation of America announced that television-program service and commercial-television receivers would be made available to the public with the opening of
the New York World’s Fair.

Ten days from now, this will be an accomplished fact. The long years of patient experimenting
and ingenious invention which the scientists of the RCA Research Laboratories have put into
television development have been crowned with success. I salute their accomplishments and
those of other scientists, both here and abroad, whose efforts have contributed to the progress of
this new art.

On April 30th, the National Broadcasting Company will begin the first regular public television-program service in the history of our country; and television receiving sets will be in the hands of
merchants in the New York area for public purchase. A new art and a new industry, which eventually will provide entertainment and information for millions and new employment for
large numbers of men and women, are here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"If there are any Brits in the house..."

The play The Farnsworth Invention dismisses fairly quickly the contributions of John Logie Baird to the development of television. However, Baird (who was Scottish) does have a following in the UK and Australia, folks who will point out, quite correctly, that Baird got there first. His mechanical system may have been inferior to what Team Philo and Team Sarnoff were working on, but he showed his system to the public almost two full years before Farnsworth did.

A website maintained by Baird's son details his father's contributions to television, as well as other inventions Baird developed in his career. It also has remarkably objective profiles of Sarnoff, Zworykin, Farnsworth and many other TV pioneers. There's even his take on the play!

The Australian equivalent of the Emmy Awards for outstanding television are know as the Logie Awards in honor of Baird. The most popular personality in Australian television each year wins the coveted "Gold Logie".

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

"People have confidence in the dog."

Named for his tendency to bite guests in the leg, Nipper was a real dog who lived in England in the late 19th century. The iconic image of Nipper listening to “His Master’s Voice” was originally a photograph of Nipper and a rare (even for its time) Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. A British artist replaced the unusual cylinder machine with a more common wind-up gramophone and tried to sell his painting for advertising purposes. He was rejected by Edison-Bell (supposedly told “dogs don’t listen to phonographs”) but later sold a modified version of his painting to England’s The Gramophone Company.

The American Victor company acquired the use of the trademarked image in the early 20th century, and RCA picked it up with its acquisition of Victor in 1929. Today, the trademark's ownership is divided among different companies in different countries. Global electronics giant JVC, for example, is actually the Victor Company of Japan and still uses Nipper in its logo and advertising, but only in Japan.

The original title of the painting was “His Late Master’s Voice”, but that was quickly determined to be a bit morbid as an advertising campaign.

In the 1990s, RCA produced a series of commercials featuring Nipper played by a real dog. Those ads also introduced a puppy, “Chipper”.

The Gramophone Company became so associated with the logo and slogan that around 1908 the company was renamed HMV. Today, more than a hundred years later, HMV is a popular global retail chain which continues to use the Nipper logo.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The Farnsworth Invention CAST ANNOUNCED
Sorry about the format; I can't seem to fix it

SARNOFF Doak Bloss
PHILO Joseph Baumann
PEM Kat Cooper
LIZETTE/PICKFORD Veronica Gracia-Wing
STAN Joseph Quick
CLIFF Simon Tower
EVERSON Darrin Fowler
GORRELL Mark Bethea
ZWORYKIN Roger Nowland
BETTY Sarah Sonnenberg
AGNES Erin Hoffman
MINA Charlotte Rupert
CROCKER Michael Ewine
HARLAN William Beam
HARBORD John Donohoe
SIMMS Greg Pratt
WILKINS Jim Murphy
RIDLEY Brian Stratton
PHILO (boy) Reese Brockhaus
SARNOFF (boy) Danny Bethea