Its Only Numbers, Right?

BoyWhoInventedTV_ So I learn from my Google Alerts this morning that there will be a new "children's book" biography of our man Farnsworth released on September 8, 2009.  It's called The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth and according to the synopsis at Amazon.com:

Plowing a potato field in 1920, a 14-year-old farm boy from Idaho saw in the parallel rows of overturned earth a way to “make pictures fly through the air.” This boy was not a magician; he was a scientific genius and just eight years later he made his brainstorm in the potato field a reality by transmitting the world’s first television image.

I realize this is being pretty picky, but with all the research that's out there now, you'd think we could get the dates and intervals straight.  To whit:  The "date of conception" — that moment in the potato field — has been pretty well pegged to the summer of 1921, the summer before Philo cajoled his way into Justin Tolman's senior chemistry class; the subsequent disclosure — the prophetic drawing that showed up years later in the litigation — was later that school year,  during the winter of 1922. 

So the potato field inspiration was 1921, and the "first picture" was indisputably 1927 — that would be SIX years later, not 8. 

And I'm sure the Logie Baird gang will have a great time with that "world's first television image."  Sometimes you do need the qualifier "electronic," even though that subsequently became synonymous with television, period.

But, hey, why should children care about little details like actual dates and numbers.  Those things are so… analog.

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Paul Schatzkin

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