Philo T. Farnsworth was the American inventor of electronic (as opposed to mechanical) television. He single-handedly  designed and built the first complete system, from cameras to receivers. The first person ever broadcast on his system and the first woman on television, was his wife Pem. He credited her equally responsible for the development of the technology, always referring to it as “their” invention.

He had patents for 300 pieces of technology, including the first semi-successful fusion reactor, the forerunner to air traffic control systems, and infrared cameras.

Farnsworth was never particularly proud of what TV had become, only expressing satisfaction when Apollo 11 broadcast the first moonwalk through his system, telling his wife:  “Pem, this has made it all worthwhile.”


“My eyes are now closed.”

“What do you see?”

“It’s such a blinding light

and hot on my skin-

is the motor generator on,

I think I hear it spin?”

I think in my mind I see

a world united by

this singular invention

and I can imagine far ahead,

a time when words are dead

replaced by glorious visions,

a world of shape and maybe colors,

giving knowledge, helping make


working towards eliminating this

warring world’s divisions-

“Can you see it too?”

“What a blinding light-

what do you see, am I there,

and if so, where?”

“On a tiny screen, smaller than

a stamp.”

My eyes are closed now but not

for long…

“I trust you, your will is strong,

for today its only me,

tomorrow a hundred million.”

I wish I could see,

will this tube set us free-

or drown us in a foam of

indifference and ignorance?

“What do you see?”