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.

Sarnoff Centenary

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.

James Campbell

Senior Planner, PB Transit & Rail Systems Inc.

Orange, California

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.

Alex Magoun

Curator, David Sarnoff Library

Photography Credits

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


Facebook Comments