December 2, 2005
Riding around the chilly streets of San Francisco this week I spotted a bumpersticker that I hadn’t seen for some time: “kill your television”. The rich irony of seeing that particular message displayed in San Francisco struck me as it always does. Why? Because television was invented right here in fog city, a fact most everyone has forgotten, along with its inventor, mr. Philo T. Farnsworth.
I don’t know if a more euphonious name for an inventor could have ever been dreamed up! Philo was born in August of 1906, just a few months after our own great earthquake, making it all the more poignant that the inventor of arguably the most earthshaking technology of the 20th century, the “Genius of Green Street”, has today been largely forgotten.
For further edification:
» Farnovision! tons of stuff, including video
» short list of patents
» San Francisco 1928 Chronicle story (sfmuseum.net)
» “Distant Vision” Pem Farnsworths’ biography of philo
- Grandpa’s archives: San Francisco Chronicle aerial photo ca. 1949
- OldSF.org – Map of the San Francisco Public Library’s Historical Photo Collection
- #65: Memories of an Argonaut
- SFist — “not even jackassable”
- Bullitt: the greatest car chase ever (from space!)