As one issue of U.S. 1 goes to press we often make a mental note to
follow up later with a person mentioned in the issue. That was the
case with our May 24 Memorial Day weekend issue, when Richard Pinter,
the retired first sergeant from the Pennsylvania National Guard who
makes it his personal mission to go from cemetery to cemetery on
Memorial Day weekend to play taps over veterans’ graves, came by the
office to deliver a photograph.
Next year, we said, we should get in touch with Pinter well before
Memorial Day, to tell his story and to print the various verses that
accompany the mournful tune.
This week, much to our surprise, Pinter was in the news again. When he
was out on bugler duty on Sunday, a lamp short-circuited and started a
fire at his Bordentown house, destroying the sun room and an adjacent
wall. Before the fire trucks could arrive, a neighbor used a fire
extinguisher and a garden hose to put out the flames.
Summoned by his wife, Pinter returned to survey the damage but kept on
with his bugling schedule on Monday, reaching a total of 21 renditions
of Taps for the Memorial Day weekend. Next year, we remind ourselves
again, we need to catch up with Richard Pinter.
Within the week the Sarnoff Museum’s Centenary lecture series begins.
The lectures start with "Looking Forward from Edison to RCA:
Industrial Innovation in Central Jersey" presented by Paul Israel,
director of the Edison Papers at Rutgers University, on Tuesday, June
6, at 7:30 p.m.
Just in time for that celebration, we have received yet another E-mail
letter taking issue with our account of the invention of color
television by David Sarnoff (U.S. 1, November 14, 2001). Herewith the
letter, followed by a response from the curator of the Sarnoff
The patent for the first color television was actually obtained by USC
physics professor Willard Geer in 1944, one month before RCA. However,
when RCA filed for the patent, they sued Willard Geer, but eventually
lost and paid Mr. Geer $15,000.
Senior Planner, PB Transit & Rail Systems Inc.
Mr. Campbell refers to the first of Willard Geer’s color television
picture tube patents, and the date that he filed it. It does not
surprise me that the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) challenged the
patent, or that they bought it when the USPTO granted it. The sum is
not very much, and larger corporations try to keep their options open
when multiple inventors are thinking along similar lines.
Because it was unclear whether RCA Laboratories’ shadow-mask
cathode-ray tube, first demonstrated publicly in April 1950, would
hold up as the best approach to electronic color TV, RCA joined the
Technicolor Company in June to underwrite fabrication and testing of
the Geer tube at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in 1950-51.
When RCA’s staff continued to refine the shadow-mask cathode-ray tube
and concluded that Geer’s tube was much more complex to operate than
the inventor hoped, RCA ended the SRI project.
SRI did, however, enjoy a visit and speech on innovation by RCA
chairman David Sarnoff in 1951 for its fifth anniversary, and 46 years
later returned the favor by accepting the donation of the Sarnoff
Research Center, now Sarnoff Corporation, from General Electric.
Curator, David Sarnoff Library
On the cover, counter clockwise from top left: Holder Tower, site of
the "A Beautiful Mind" filming (photo by Denise Applewhite). Holder
Courtyard, former site of the Nude Olympics (photo courtesy of the
University Archives, Princeton University Library). Albert Einstein
(courtesy of the Institute for Advanced Study, also page 45). Russell
Crowe as John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind," behind Henry Hall. Woodrow
Wilson, from Axtell’s book, courtesy of Princeton University Archives.
Frist Campus Center (also on page 39, photo by Denise Applewhite).
Center: Dillon Gym (photo by Evelyn Tu).
Photo of Whig Hall, page 40, Denise Applewhite). Photos on page 44,
from Axtell’s book, courtesy of Princeton University Office of