David Sarnoff: The general of broadcasting
How many people know the name Philo T. Farnsworth? Johnny Carson did. He once said, "If it weren't for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we'd still be eating frozen radio dinners." Farnsworth, one of the scientific geniuses of the last century, invented the electronic picture tube as a teen, after only two years of high school. Yet the quip applies equally to RCA, and its president, David Sarnoff, the man who brought us NBC and claimed to be the father of television. Farnsworth and Sarnoff squared off in the courts over patent rights and after years of litigation, Farnsworth won, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. Farnsworth was a broken man, the patents had nearly expired, and RCA paid him a scant portion of the millions he hoped to reap from his invention. Farnsworth never made the cover of Time Magazine; Sarnoff was there twice. Sarnoff was not accustomed to losing.