[Originally published in Reader's Digest]
Zworykin in New York and Farnsworth almost 3000 miles away in California knew nothing of each other's work or ideas.
But the United States Patent Office knew about both men. The Patent Office knew that both were working on the same intention and that some of their most importan ideas were the same.
At last Zworykin and Farnsworth learned about each other's work. At once they asked the Patent Office in Washington to say who should have the patent rights to television. The man who held the patent would have the right to own or sell his idea of television. If he should succeeded in sending pictures through the air, he could become the head of a great new business and a rich man.
Very soon the Patent Office asked the two men to come to Washington for a hearing. The important question at the hearing would be quite simple: Which man could prove that he had been the first to invent television?
Before going to Washington, Farnsworth and his lawyer got ready for the hearing. At first, it seemed that Farnsworth would not be able to prove that he had worked on television befere he went to San Francisco. But he knew that he had started his work years earlier.
"I suppose the first drawing that I ever made of television was in 1922", Farnsworth told his lawyer.
"Can you bring that drawing to the hearing?" his lawyer asked.
"It was made on a blackboard one day after school."
"Did anyone else see it?"
"Yes, my teacher, Justin Tolman", answered Farnsworth.
"Where is he now?"
"I don't know."
|Vladimir Kosmich Zworykin (1888-1982)|
And so the search for Tolman began. At last he was found, teaching science in a school in Salt Lake City.
At the hearing in Washington, Farnsworth's lawyer first showed that Philo had not seen or heard from his teacher for many years, not since Philo's school days in the little town of Rigby.
Then the lawyer said, "Mr. Tolman, I want you to remember the time when Philo Farnsworth was a student of yours. Did he ever tell you of an invention that he called television?
"Can you remember what Philo Farnsworth told you about that invention?"
"Yes", Tolman said in a low voice. He stood up and went to a blackboard. On it he put the same drawings that Philo had made years before on the blackboard in the schoolroom at Rigby.
Then Zworykin's lawyer asked Tolman many questions about the drawings. Philo's science teacher could give every fact and figure of the television system which the 16-year-old boy had explained to him. Because Tolman remembered everything that Philo had told him, the patent rights to television were given to Philo Farnsworth.
Since then, television has become a big and an important business in the United States and all over the world. The later work of Zworykin and Farnsworth has been of equal importance. The present system of television uses the best ideas of both men.
Farnsworth's success came to him partly through his own great genious. But partly it came through the help of two good friends. One was George Everson, the businessman, who took a young boy to see a number of other businessmen in San Francisco and made them believe in him. The other was Justin Tolman, the science teacher, who knew a genius when he saw one and remembered every word that the genius had said to him.
Santos Dumont committed suicide when he discovered that the plane had turned into a war machine. What would Philo Farnsworth have done if he had seen what became the brazilian TV today?