By: Brent Barker, Travis Buhler, Matt Glad, & Curtis Oakley.
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The Man Behind The Television

Not many people know about this person, but just about everyone these days come in contact with his inventions nearly every day. Without this man’s inventions, our world would be significantly different. Philo T. Farnsworth invented the all-electric television and the image dissector (a device that can transform a picture into an electronic image) along with many other things. He came up with the idea of the image dissector when he was just fifteen, and demonstrated it when he reached the age of twenty-one. Farnsworth hoped that this invention would be used for educational purposes.

Farnsworth was born on Aug. 19, 1906 to a LDS family near Beaver, Utah. He later moved to a farm in Idaho, where he attended Rigby High School and found that his new house was wired with electricity. While living there in Idaho, he converted most of the hand powered devices in the house to electric power.

In 1921 while plowing the fields, Farnsworth discovered the idea of capturing pictures line by line that lead to the invention of the image dissector. His family moved to Provo, Utah in 1922 and Farnsworth stayed in Idaho to work on the railroad to earn money for school. He attended BYU when he moved down to live with his family in 1923.

Farnsworth married Elma “Pem” Gardner and moved to California. While working in San Francisco, and using funding from some friends, he showed the first electric television on September 7, 1927. This breakthrough won him more funding to continue his research.

Philo thought of the television as a tool to learn, grow, and be a better people. His dream was not fulfilled however. TV broadcasts today is not always educational, uplifting, and designed to enrich lives.

…[Phil] saw television as a marvelous teaching tool. There would be no excuse for illiteracy. Parents could learn along with their children. News and sporting events could be seen as they were happening. Symphonies would mean more when one could see the musicians as they played, and movies would be seen in our own living rooms. He said there would be a time when we would be able to see and learn about people in other lands. If we understood them better, differences could be settled around conference tables, without going to war.   - Elma Farnsworth

Philo himself did not think highly of television. “There's nothing on it worthwhile, and we're not going to watch it in this household, and I don't want it in your intellectual diet – Philo T Farnsworth.” However, during an interview after Philo’s death, Elma Farnsworth said “…when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Pem, this has made it all worthwhile.’ Before then, he wasn't too sure.”

The television has a huge influence on our society today. Just about everyone today has a television in their home. Not all of it is necessarily good to people’s standards, but there are some educational shows being broadcasted. Philo had hoped this would be a tool for educational purposes, and in some ways it has succeeded.

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