Philo T Farnsworth demonstrated the world’s first all-electronic system of television in 1927. Like Baird, he had difficulty obtaining financing for his experiments. By 1930, Farnsworth’s shareholders insisted that he show his television system to RCA (Radio Corporation of America).

Initially, RCA believed that it could do without Farnsworth’s many television camera patents, but they became crucial to making RCA’s television camera work properly. Patent litigation between Farnsworth and RCA became intense. Finally, a licensing agreement was reached, and television as we know it began.

Following his career in research on television, Farnsworth became involved in radar and atomic energy research.

ALLEN B. DUMONT (1901-1965) USA


Like many of the early figures in television, Du Mont was involved both in manufacture and broadcasting. A brilliant inventor, Du Mont began his career by developing improved cathode-ray tubes. He subsequently founded a television network and set up a television-manufacturing company.

In the 1930s, Allen B. Du Mont Laboratories competed strongly with RCA (Radio Corporation of America) in the areas of research and development. In 1938, DuMont offered a set with a 14-inch screen, while RCA was only able to release a 12-inch set.

Many of the favourite TV shows of the late 1940s and early 1950s appeared on Du Mont’s network, which nonetheless folded in 1955.



As early as 1915, Sarnoff recognized the potential of organized broadcasting to stimulate the sale of radio receivers. He founded NBC, the broadcasting division of RCA, in 1926. He later carried this insight into the realm of television.

As president of RCA (Radio Corporation of America) during the 1930s and 1940s, Sarnoff was instrumental in financing the development of electronic television. When RCA was ready to promote the sale of television sets, NBC was ready with programming to create demand. A brilliant marketer, Sarnoff was determined that RCA would be the company to bring television to the American public, and he made it happen.



Zworykin developed some of the most important technologies for the electronic television camera and picture tube. While still a student in Russia, he began to study the cathode-ray tube.

Zworykin emigrated to the USA in 1919, and began research on his “Iconoscope” (an early camera tube), which he patented in 1923. In 1929, he demonstrated his all-electronic television receiver using a “Kinescope” (picture tube). By this time, Zworykin was working for RCA, where he directed all the research that led up to the first real introduction of television to the general public, at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.



One of the great inventors of the 20th century, John Logie Baird obtained the first recognizable television image on October 1, 1925, well over a year before the American telephone giant AT&T was able to produce a similar transmission.

Baird’s company organized the first television broadcasting system in the UK, which began operations in 1929.

Baird continued his work at the cutting edge of television technology for the rest of his life. He demonstrated the first colour television in 1928, stereoscopic 3-D television, and the world’s first all-electronic colour TV system (patented in 1940)



Jenkins made major technical contributions to the development of cinema and mechanical television. In 1928, Jenkins Laboratories began transmitting

“Radio-Movies,” which consisted of moving shadows. Jenkins transmitted what was probably the first TV commercial (for Old Dutch Girl cleanser).

In 1930, Jenkins estimated that the audience for his Radio-Movies was around 20,000. This was because he transmitted signals from his mechanical television system on short wave frequencies, which have a much greater range than today’s TV signals.

Jenkins refused to follow the rest of the pack into electronic television, and spent the last years of his life trying to improve mechanical systems.


MZTV Museum of Television (at The ZoomerPlex) 64 Jefferson Avenue Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6K 1Y4

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