Philo T. Farnsworth’s contributions to electronics made the modern television possible. Yet while his invention is in nearly every American household, his name has all but been forgotten by many who laze before the ubiquitous boob tube.
The “father of modern television,” who had been tinkering with electronics since he was a teen, transmitted the first electronic television picture in 1927. By the time of his death in 1971, every TV produced contained around 100 items for which he held the patent.
The inventor from Utah is not wholly forgotten. It is the tradition that each state may send two statues of its prominent citizens to the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., to be displayed. Today, the statue of the man who invented the first fully electronic TV stands prominently next to where tour groups line up to enter the building.
In 2018, the Utah State Legislature voted to replace Farnsworth’s statue with one of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, a physician, suffragist and the first woman to be elected as a state senator. Farnsworth’s statue will be moved to the Utah State University Campus.
A copy of the statue also sits in the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Some modern Americans may have heard the name Farnsworth in the TV show Futurama, a show where Professor Farnsworth is supposedly descended from the inventor of the TV.
Know Before You Go
The state is located in the Hall of Statues in the Capitol Building visitor’s center. You will need to pass through a security check to enter the building, which includes x-rays of your belongings and walking through a metal detector. Once you enter the building, go down the stairs to the main hall. The statue is located on the opposite side of the hall on the left near where tour groups line up.