Broadcasting has a colorful history of inventors and inventions. We talk about the influence of Marconi, Tesla, Edison, de Forest and Armstrong, and we should appreciate their impact on our field and things around us today. It’s always fascinating to learn about them, plus what their lives must have been like or how they felt about their impact.
Tesla’s Last Interview
Tesla is probably one of our least recognized geniuses. If you’ve read one of the many books on him, his interaction with Edison really makes you wonder about how ruthless things might have been between inventors (according to stories, Edison “took Telsa for a ride” ... no Tesla auto pun intended).
Lee de Forest
This is a great video from 1957. Remember the show “This Is Your Life”? It was hosted by Ralph Edwards. This show starts off a TV control room in 1957 (awesome in itself). On the show, the guest is the man credited with the invention of the vacuum tube and the “father of radio” ... Lee de Forest. Mr. de Forest is up in age here, but just great to watch! You also get to see the chairman of DuMont TV in this video.
Mr. FM Radio
The story of Edwin Armstrong ends tragically with the ending of his own life, yet we must recognize his genius and his impact in radio. PBS had a great show years ago called “Empire of the Air” that should be required viewing of anyone in radio. It’s well done and fascinating. Armstrong was faced with David Sarnoff (head of NBC/RCA) not giving him his due, while having others “troll” his patents. The story is fascinating, but ends tragically. This link provides excellent information about Mr. Armstrong. To me, it reminds me that those of us in radio should celebrate his life and remember his positive influence in radio and his creative genius.
So many people had impact into radio, but maybe we should have started with Guglielmo Marconi. He was the first person credited with “going wireless” for communicating. Another fascinating engineer! Here’s info about Marconi from History.com.
Empire of the Air
As I mentioned, one of the best shows about the history of radio was Ken Burns’ 1991 PBS special “Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio.” Here’s link to info about the show (from the best resource for info on movies, TV shows, and that industry), IMDB.
And finally …
I mentioned Edison and Tesla. They have an interesting back-story. From the History channel is this 2015 documentary about the two of them.
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