#4- The Road to Invention

In 1926, 19 year-old Philo Farnsworth gathered up his $6,000 in seed money and set off to Los Angeles to invent television. 

He set up a lab and created this, the first electronic television camera:

It never worked, but it was the start. Each of the tentacles of the “Glass Octopus” needed its own power source. Before he could succeed, Phil would have to invent the tools to invent the tools. The first big breakthrough was the multipactor. It used one power source to energize many tubes. Now he could proceed.

Unfortunately, a power surge during one test caused a lab explosion and everything was destroyed.

The search for new investors led to the Crocker Bank in San Francisco. George Everson set up a meeting. Philo promised a working television system within one year and got $25,000 to set up a lab at 202 Green Street on September 22, 1927.

His lab staff consisted of his wife Pem, two electrical engineers and Pem’s brother Cliff Gardner.  It would be Cliff, a former lumberjack, who would learn to blow the intricate vacuum tubes that became the first television cameras.  

On August 30, just after his 21st birthday, Philo got the camera and receiver to work. He didn’t believe it at first, so he built a whole new system to check out on September 7, 1927.

This time ”the damn thing’ worked. It was the beginning of a new technological era that would change the world forever.