Blog powered by Typepad

And Now A Word from Our Sponsor:

« One Blogger's Review of TFI | Main | Unneessary Censorship »

March 27, 2007


Ron Farnsworth

I knew Pem Farnsworth very well. She was nice (and patient) enough to let me try to video tape a documentary about her when I was a student at San Francisco State University. We had one stipulation, that I not try to "put words in her mouth." I told her: Pem, I am trying to get words out of your mouth." We had a good laugh about that, and that was not the last laugh we shared.

I must say this: Pem would not have liked someone sticking a cigarette in her mouth. She would have flipped!

Cliff Gardner, who was also my friend, would not have given a whit! I will not repeat some of the jokes Cilff used to laugh about. (Little kids might be watching).

That's about all I care to add right now, except to wish everyone who has worked so hard all of my best. That is why they are working in Hollywood, and I'm sitting in San Francisco scratching my head and wondering: "Why did I major in Electronic Communication Arts?"

I do have a song I wrote called 'The Invisible Frontier.' copyright Ron Farnsworth 1995. Pem and Cliff both got a kick out of it. Mr. Sorkin, may I send you a demo tape?


Ronnie Farnsworth

Richard C. Webb

I am Richard C. Webb who somehow was posted for a copy of the above subject blog. Thank you for calling my attention to this latest attempt to push Philo Farnsworth to the top of the list of television inventors, eclipsing all others. Particularly those last three words.

This has been going on for a long time and I thought it would quiet down with Pem's passing. Evidently not, so I am impelled to speak up and attempt to head off what might otherwise contribute to an enormous historical distortion.

Why am I qualified to do this? At 91 years of age, I am one of the last living RCA engineers who worked under Sarnoff and Zworykin along with Ray Kell and a handful of others who actually spun the ideas together that made it possible to build the powerful color television system that the world has been watching for half a century.

In this short note I can't tell you the story but please add to your reading list my recent book titled, TELE-VISIONARIES: The People Behind the Invention of Television. It was published by IEEE/Wiley Books in 2006 and gives an eye witness account of what actually went on within the RCA laboratory building in Princeton , NJ during the 1940’s and 50’s and explains where the engineer/inventor Philo Farnsworth stood among the inventors of television. I notice that just entering the first part of the book’s title into your search engine brings up a review and various sources of it.

Richard C. Webb

Ron Farnsworth

I am compeled to respond to Mr. Webb's comments. To say that you hoped that all of this would quiet down with Pem's passing is an insult to the intelegence of everyone who is familar with her work. Pem Farnsworth never said that Phil Farnsworth created the vast infrastructure that television became. She simply said he invented it. And I would like to add that he did it with $25,000 and within a years time. RCA and it's parent company, General Electric might do well to use it's resources as tightly as Farnsworth did. That's what it is all about, conserving energy. Not blowing a lot of hot air.
Ronnie Farnsworth


One point that Mr Webb seems to be overlooking is the fact that this is a "dramatic" representation of events. Not a documentary. Writers will always take one or two sides of an argument and have their characters work from this point of view, because it's a work of fiction.

Can we honestly say that Henry V stood on the field at Agincourt and gave such forceful oratory? Did Saliere really have everything he said in Amadeus to say to Mozart?

Plays are supposed to stir us, make us think about a situation or a series of events, it has never been designed to be a blow by blow account of events - unless those events can hold themselves up to dramatic prose - the ephemera that would be involved in the in between momenteous moments of the birth of TV would make the show unwatchable. Instead the writer takes the elements that will have the most impact and burns them down in a crucible until they have a compelling story.

Shows based on historic events will always have inconsistancies and someone will find inaccuracies, but that doesn't mean it won't make for a good show, this doesn't mean that people won't come out of the theatre and want to know more, that's what historical drama is supposed to be about.

Ron Farnsworth

Jees, Louise,
Where have you been all my life? I would just like to take the time to invite everyone to San Francisco for the 80th aniversery of the invention of television this Sept. 7th. We are having a few scheduling problems, because it co-insides with the 40th aniversery of the Summer of Love and nobody remembers when that happened either. Questions? Comments? We would love to turn you on.
Ronnie Farnsworth

Chad Farnsworth


Please send me some further information on the 80th anv. on Sept. 7th...

[email protected]


The comments to this entry are closed.

More Farno-Stuff