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Lee de Forest - King of Radio, Television, and Film by Mike Adams
 
Lee de Forest - King of Radio, Television, and Film by Mike Adams Quantity in Basket: None
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The life-long inventor, Lee de Forest invented the three-element vacuum tube used between 1906 and 1916 as a detector, amplifier, and oscillator of radio waves. Beginning in 1918 he began to develop a light valve, a device for writing and reading sound using light patterns. While he received many patents for his process, he was initially ignored by the film industry. In order to promote and demonstrate his process he made several hundred sound short films, he rented space for their showing; he sold the tickets and did the publicity to gain audiences for his invention. Lee de Forest officially brought sound to film in 1919. Lee De Forest: King of Radio, Television, and Film is about both invention and early film making; de Forest as the scientist and producer, director, and writer of the content. This book tells the story of de Forest’s contribution in changing the history of film through the incorporation of sound. The text includes primary source historical material, U.S. patents and richly-illustrated photos of Lee de Forest’s experiments. Readers will greatly benefit from an understanding of the transition from silent to audio motion pictures, the impact this had on the scientific community and the popular culture, as well as the economics of the entertainment industry.

More than just the story of how sound came to the movies, Lee de Forest – King of Radio, Television, and Film is a broad and sweeping perspective on the inventing process and the life of inventor-scientist Lee de Forest. From his college day’s fascination with the “speaking flame” and its application in physics and electricity, de Forest not only invents technology for the entertainment media but he also creates its content and consumers. What becomes evident in this story is how the invention process really happens, how each new device builds on those previous to it, and how patents are developed, granted and then challenged in a number of increasingly higher courts, where they are upheld or overturned as invalid by judges who may or may not fully understand the technology upon which they are ruling.

Lee de Forest, Yale doctorate and Oscar winner, gave voice to the radio and the motion picture. Yet by the 1930s, after the radio and the Talkies were regular features of American life, Lee de Forest had seemingly lost everything. Why? Why didn’t he receive the recognition and acclaim he sought his entire life until years later in 1959, when he was awarded an Oscar? A lifelong innovator, Lee de Forest invented the three-element vacuum tube which he developed between 1906 and 1916 as a detector, amplifier, and oscillator of radio waves. As early as 1907, he was broadcasting music programming. In 1918, he began to develop a system for recording and playing back sound by using light patterns on motion picture film. In order to promote and demonstrate his process he made hundreds of short sound films, found theatres for their showing, and issued publicity to gain audiences for his invention. While he received many patents for this technology, he was ignored by the film industry. Lee de Forest, King of Radio, Television, and Film is about the process of invention—how inventors really get ideas and how every inventor learns that they must know the work of those who came before, and why the myth of the lone inventor and the “Aha! moment” is largely a fiction. Through his inventions, Lee de Forest made possible the mass entertainment media we enjoy.

Springer Science & Business Media
Soft cover, 551 pages.

About the author:

Mike Adams has been a radio personality and a film maker. Currently he is a professor of radio, television, and film at San Jose State University, where he has been a department chair and an associate dean. As a researcher and writer of broadcast and early technology history, he created two award-winning documentaries for PBS, “Radio Collector,” and “Broadcasting’s Forgotten Father.” He has had published numerous articles and three books, the most recent of which is Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting.

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