Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth


by Kathleen Krull
New York: Knopf, 2009. Unpaged. Non-fiction.


It is a high irony of working at the Provo City Library that the very room which is now filled with children's books used to be the lab where Philo Farnsworth worked to invent the television. Usually the print-medium continuum moves in the opposite direction. In any case, Kathleen Krull has wrought yet another spirited and enlightening biography, this time about our own Utah-Idaho product, the fourteen year old boy who was plowing furrows when he figured out how to transmit lines of light and then reassemble them rapidly enough that they would appear as a single picture. Though a top-drawer inventor, Philo was not much of a businessman and refused to sell his idea to RCA because he wanted to keep control of the invention. Consequently, RCA muscled him out of the credit for inventing television, and he didn't get much attention for his achievement during his lifetime. Greg Couch's richly evocative illustrations add life and substance to Krull's predictably excellent text.

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