Sarnoff Revisited

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the November 21, 2001 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Having the 50th anniversary of color television on our

cover last week and the Sikh religion this week reminded us of the

adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Our coverage of the Sikhs was admittedly prompted by September 11,

and the notion that we all need to understand each other a little

better. Thanksgiving week, when we all "gather together,"

as the hymn proclaims, seems like a good time for such reflection.

Though Sikhs might appear unusual in the midst of our button-down

corporate culture, we realized that in their work ethic they were

no different than millions of other Americans who have gone through

the melting pot.

In the early 20th century some people may have been a little wary

of the young David Sarnoff, a high school dropout working to support

his Russian immigrant family. In the early 21st century we should

encourage and appreciate the hard work of our the newest immigrants.

Thanks, everyone.

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Sarnoff Revisited

On behalf of the David Sarnoff Library, I would like

to thank you and your writer, Kathleen McGinn Spring, for the


cover story on the history of the invention of color television (U.S.

1, November 14). We had a full and appreciative audience of over 250

people in Sarnoff Corporation’s auditorium on November 15, thanks

in part to the article. Those who missed the illustrated history and

demonstration of RCA’s first color television receiving converted

HDTV signals from NJN are invited to attend the reception for and

dedication of the IEEE Milestone for the invention of


electronic color television at the RCA Laboratories on Thursday,


29, at 4 p.m. Please contact Alice Archer at 609-734-2636, or E-mail:


New Jersey has been the Innovation Garden State at least since Edison

started spinning off ventures in Menlo Park. The state’s 20th century

history is filled with the technologies we take for granted, from

electronic television and antibiotics to the transistor and liquid

crystal displays. It is in everyone’s best interest to promote that

history, for the sake of education, state pride, tourism, and the

business acumen that arises from understanding the causes of our


and commercial failures and successes.

Alexander B. Magoun

Director, David Sarnoff Library


Editor’s note: In processing all that data, a few


got crossed. At one point the development of monochrome television

was erroneously juxtaposed with color television. The correct


"In 1929 Zworykin told Sarnoff he could develop electronic


TV in two years. The cost to RCA by 1949 was some $10 million in R&D,

manufacture, service, and programming."

Also the story incorrectly identified the inventor of the electron

microscope: It was James Hillier. "Zworykin hired Hillier and

provided protection from RCA’s bean counters in stimulating creation

of what could be called the medical electronics industry," says

Magoun. Hillier won numerous awards for his efforts to successfully

commercialize what had previously been a laboratory curiosity,


the 1960 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, sometimes

known as "America’s Nobel Prize."

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