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American Innovation: 13 Born-in-the-USA inventions

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Television

The combination of radio transmission and motion pictures emerged from the work of a series of German and Russian scientists after the 1913 invention of the photoelectric cell, which boosted electric conductivity of certain metals when exposed to light. In 1923, at Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse Corporation, Vladimir Zworykin demonstrated a kinescope, which received and displayed images, considered the basis for television. Philo T. Farnsworth, a Utah farm boy long fascinated with electronics, also worked on an electronic camera tube. He successfully convinced friends to provide the seed funding to further the invention. In 1927, he demonstrated the first electronic television. By 1930, Farnsworth's and Zworykin’s paths had crossed and they began to compete for television-related patents, of which Farnsworth held three critical pieces. Farnsworth had a protracted legal battle with RCA, which claimed that Zworykin, who became an RCA engineer, had developed the technology. While Farnsworth did not profit monetarily from his work, he is dubbed "The Father of Television."

Source: MIT, New York Times, Scientific American Inventions and Discoveries by Rodney Carlisle (Wiley, 2004)

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