Continued From April 8th Issue
My mind was in turmoil at the prospect of marriage. The next evening when we had my father and his mother together, Phil silenced their well-founded objections with a plea to hear him out.
This is the story he told: As they were sitting around a large table in the office completing a late mailing at the Community Chest, Mr. Everson asked Phil (Philo T. Farnsworth), about his plans for the future, assuming he would be going back to college. Phil told him he was unable to continue his education because of family responsibilities. Cliff (my brother) was aware of Phil’s reluctance to talk about his invention. Even Cliff and I had known him more than a year before he told us about it. So Cliff took Mr. Gorrel aside and told him Phil had some interesting ideas he should hear about.
Leslie Gorrel was a young, tall, smartly dressed man-about-town, with blonde hair and a stylish thin mustache. His friendly sense of humor made him easily approachable. In answer to Leslie’s question, Phil admitted he had an idea for an important invention, but since it was not yet patented, he didn’t feel free to talk about it. Phil’s reticence only fanned Mr. Gorrell’s interest.
After further questioning, Phil told Mr. Gorell and Mr. Everson that he had a way to produce a motion television picture electrically, with no moving parts. His efforts to obtain backing had been so discouraging that he had considered selling his invention to a magazine in the form of an article; even though he knew once his idea appeared in print, it would ruin any future chance for a patent. They wanted to know more.
The term television was completely new to them. Phil told them that up to that time, only crude methods—cumbersome mechanical spinning discs—had been devised to send moving pictures from one place to another.
Seeing their interest and deciding that might be just what he had been looking for, he got their promise to hold what he was about to tell them in strict confidence and then launched into a description of his electrical television system He told them that by manipulating electrons in a vacuum tube he could change a visual image into a stream of electrical current, and transmit that signal to another vacuum tube at a receiver in another location and use a fluorescent screen to turn the stream of current back into a moving visual image. Thus one would be able to see as well as hear what was happening on radio.
Phil’s heart sank as he recognized, in Mr. Everson’s reaction, the same disbelief he had encountered in so many other investors. Les Gorrel, on the other hand, was a young graduated civil engineer. Although his degree civil engineering hardly qualified Les in electronics, he at least was able to grasp something of what Phil was saying.
Les took Phil aside and plied him with many questions. Later, he told Mr. Everson he thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at this “television thing.”
The next day Phil was invited to dinner, and this time Mr. Everson began to get a glimmer of something that might be of real consequence, as he later related in his book, The Story of Television: “Young Farnsworth at this time looked much older than his nineteen years. He was of moderate height and slight build and gave the impression of being undernourished. There was a nervous tension about him that was probably the result of financial worry and frustration in not making any headway in his scientific pursuits. As the discussion started, Farnsworth’s personality seemed to change from that of a clerk too closely confined to his work. His always pleasant eyes began burning with energy and he spoke with a fierce eloquence. He became a super salesman, inspiring his listeners with an ever-increasing interest in what he was saying.” Phil’s burning desire to prove his television ideas had at last found sympathetic ears. To be continued.
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