29

TUESDAY

Currently spinning in his grave (and probably halfway to China by now) is one Philo T. Farnsworth, creative genius behind that most wonderful purveyor of corporate-interest-serving propaganda, the television. Farnsworth was once convinced that his work would “wipe out ignorance and misunderstanding.” Had he known back in 1928 what destruction TV would eventually unleash upon the collective intelligence and motivation of the American public, he probably would have taken a sledgehammer to his entire laboratory. At the very least, the fiercely independent inventor might have struck a quick deal with NBC radio network founder (and power-obsessed media mogul) David Sarnoff, who instead spent years trying to steal Farnsworth’s patents and take credit for his work. Evan I. Schwartz’s The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television chronicles the decadeslong conflict between these two progenitors of broadcast media, one that shaped the future of the industry and marked the end of an era of independent innovation. Schwartz speaks at noon at the National Museum of American History’s Reception Suite, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Matthew Borlik)