Philo Farnsworth Inventions and Accomplishments


Born in 1906, Philo Farnsworth was the eldest of five children and he grew up in a Mormon household. They initially lived in a log cabin, but they moved to a farm in Idaho was Farnsworth was 12 and it was wired for electricity. He started studying electrical and mechanical technology, at one point wiring his mother’s hand-powered washing machine so that it was an automatic one. He initially joined the Navy, but wanted to pursue television projects, and so he sought an honorable discharge so the military wouldn’t own his patents. He would eventually own over 300 total patents.

Here’s a look at his inventions:

The All-Electronic Television

Many of the television systems of Farnsworth’s time employed a system of scanning devices that used disks to sweep in short arcs while capturing small areas of photosenstive elements. Farnsworth followed in the path of many other inventors who came up with electromechanical television systems and built the first television that was all electronic. Using an image dissector idea that he worked out at the age of 15, his continued developing this process as a method of transferring images and the video tubes that he contributed were used for decades.

Farnsworth never really took a lot of glory for his invention. He had a long running dispute with RCA over the invention that the company eventually lost and agreed to pay him royalties on the televisions being sold. He once appeared on the television program I’ve Got a Secret and no one could guess that he invented electronic television. That got him $80 and a carton of cigarettes as a prize.

The Baby Incubator

Although Farnsworth isn’t given credit as being the father of the baby incubator, his contributions to the technology of the device helped to improve neonatal care by improving the overall methods of care. From oxygen supplementation to protection from cold temperatures and other bothersome distractions that could lead to a deterioration of health, Farnsworth helped to give babies that are born prematurely a fighting chance at life.

The Fusor

The most common type of fusor is a Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor and it uses an electric field to heat ions in such a way that it creates nuclear fusion. The device is a viable source of creating neutrons, but won’t reach the fluxes that you would find in a particle accelerator or a nuclear reactor. It’s used for medical isotopes today that can help doctors diagnose specific health issues.

The Gastroscope

One of the most effective methods of diagnosis digestive tract disorders is through direct observation. The procedure, which is called an endoscopy, puts a scope on a lighted device so that a doctor can see irritation, ulcers, and other forms of intestinal distress. It can also be used in a colonoscopy as well. The modern systems use fiber optics and still photographs can be taken. The modern scope can also take tissue biopsies if problems are located during the procedure.

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