Tube: The Invention of Television Paperback – Oct 15 1997
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Telling the tale of the corporate revolution that forever changed the nature of the individual is no easy task. Authors David E. Fisher and Marshall Jon Fisher have hidden their sociohistory between the lines of the exciting story of the race to invent television. Eccentric geniuses John Logie Baird (whose only other invention was stay-dry socks) and teenaged Utah farm boy Philo T. Farnsworth struggled with limited resources to produce the first television systems, but their greatest challenge was coming up against the giant corporations that had nearly infinite money and resources. Pitting these lone romantics against the collective will of RCA, Tube turns a history of science into a thrilling page-turner.
From Publishers Weekly
As the authors say in their preface, "[W]ho invented television? Nobody knows." But the genius of several individuals coalesced into today's modern TV. In this personality-driven book, the authors look at the key players and their contributions: John Logie Bair, the eccentric Scot who went from marketing hemorrhoid cream to making the first TV in Britain; Vladimir Zworykin, the Russian immigrant who blazed the trail for RCA; and Ernst Alexanderson, who led RCA to the promised land but lost out to Zworykin. But the two stars are Philo T. Farnsworth and David Sarnoff. Farnsworth was the boy-genius who first visualized TV as a 14-year-old and invented one of the first totally electronic TVs, only to be defeated by corporate in-fighting. "General" David Sarnoff, a Jewish immigrant on New York City's Lower East Side, rose to become the head of RCA, leading it to the vanguard because of his keen perceptions of both radio and television. David Fisher, a professor of cosmochemistry at the University of Miami, and Marshal Joe Fisher, a freelance writer, offer an engrossing, in-depth look at the history of the medium. Photos not seen by PW. 35,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
What TUBE gains in advertising space, it lacks in accuracy. To a reader with sufficient previous background, it will appear to have been written and researched on the quick, and it comes to several misleading conclusions that evolve into outright fabrication. The authors do not seem to know how to get out of corners they carelessly write themselves into. They seem only too willing to make judgements on technologies and events which they clearly have not fully researched. There are simply too many outstanding errors for Tube to be a dependable reference for historians.
Let's hope if Tube has been reprinted, that the Fishers have done more background research, and have fixed the recurring 'boo-boos' that troubled the version I read.
A 2nd edition (with corrections) or even an enclosed 'errata' page is long overdue. Call me cynical, but I strongly suspect that the errors would happily be carried through to further printings, (if this has not occurred already). I do not recognize the new cover, but I expect it is simply a paperback version of the earlier hardcover with no content changes.
This may seem strong, but the more knowledge you amass about TV History from reputable sources, the more frustrated you will become with Tube.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
but largely untold piece of history. Unfortunately, the
authors failed to search beneath the surface of the
surviving historical record to find the true facts, and have
instead reiterated a false accounting that has been preserved
by more than than 60 years of corporate public relations.
"Tube" repeats oft cited historical record that "Vladimir
Zworykin became 'the father of television' when he invented
as device called the "iconoscope" while working for RCA in 1923."
That is a single sentence that manages to embody about four historical
What's worse, repeating this false litany obscures one of
the most amazing achievements of the 20th century: that
television as we know it emerged whole from the mind of a
14 year old farm boy named Philo T. Farnsworth. The
Fishers' book recognizes Farnsworth, but fails to differentiate
his achievement from that of Zworykin, or to examine the
patent record deeply enough to unveil the true magnitude
of Farnsworth's contribution.
Philo T. Farnsworth paved the way for today's living room
dreams, but the Fishers' book treats his contribution no
better than dozens of volumes that precede it. For the true
story, read "The Farnsworth Chronicles" on the web at
David Fisher provides just the right amount of technical information with very simple graphics to allow the reader to understand the importance of different discoveries to the advancement television. If you can understand an ordinary light-bulb, you can keep up with this book.
Did you know that the FCC first approved a color TV system that would have required a spinning disk in every home set? But no company produced any sets for the home so it went nowhere until the relentless David Sarnoff succeeded in driving RCA, the company he headed, to produce a color system that was compatible with black and white TV.
The personal story of Philo T. Farnsworth, a self-taught Iowa farm-boy who was the first to come up with an all-electronic (instead of mechanical) television system would make this book worthwhile if that were the only story told, but there are a host of colorful characters that will keep you reading.
I'm not sure if this book is still in print; I found it in a used book store but if you find a copy, grab it! There's even a chapter at the end to fill you in on the early development of digital TV, though that is a story of committees rather than personalities.
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