This column has suggested, sporadically, over some 30 years, that Utah place its allotted second statue in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.
Each state is permitted to honor two of its sons or daughters, and for many years Utah has had only one statue here that of Brigham Young.Now that the Legislature has taken action, and Gov. Norman Bangerter has appointed a commission to choose a sculptor, just who is it that the state will honor in this handsome way?
The Legislature, last year, chose inventor Philo T. Farnsworth as Utah's second most illustrious personage.
Dr. Stephen Carr, of Salt Lake City, has long been an advocate of recognizing Farnsworth, and he has been named to the statuary commission.
Carr has collected much history on the inventor, who was a pioneer in developing teleision as we know it.
Carr writes that Farnsworth was born in a log cabin near Beaver, Utah, Aug. 19, 1906.
Young Philo was fascinated with technical objects, and particularly by the telephone and the phonograph.
He tinkered with the farm's generator, his mother's sewing machine, and washer when he was only 12 years old.
At the age of 13 Farnsworth saw a description of an early television receiver that used a crude rotating disc as a scanner. Later he took a correspondence course from the National Radio Institute in Washington, D.C.
In February, 1922, by then familiar with electricity and early radio, young Farnsworth described to a high school teacher in Rigby, Idaho, a "dissector" tube that would display pictures electrically.
Like Thomas A. Edison before him, Farnsworth's first real job was on the railroad, as an electrician.
In the fall of 1923, Philo and his family moved to Provo, where he eventually entered Brigham Young University.
Farnsworth tinkered with one of the rudimentary radios of the day, which had three tuning knobs that had to be set individually to bring in a station.
This was very fine and tedious work, but Philo found a way to make tuning less sensiive.
His "vernier" dial however, had already been thought of independently by another inventor, and he was not able to patent it.
Farnsworth eventually went to San Francisco in 1926, in pursuit of ways to develop his dissector tube into a television screen, and with aid of several investors who financed him for a year, produced an image on September 7, 1927.
Other ideas he originated led to the electron microscope and techniques that helped produce radar.
Farnsworth demonstrated television techniques to packed houses in Philadelphia, but was not abe to get Federal Communications Commission radio channels for transmission, so he licensed the first broadcasting to companies in Germany and England.
Farnsworth was engaged in a lengthy patent fight with the Radio Corporation of America, which claimed it had developed the first TV tube, but the Patent Office upheld Farnsworth's claims, and RCA eventually took out a Farnsworth license.
Philo settled in Maine before World War II and his Farnsworth Corporation turned out lare quantities of war materiel, including quantities of wood products.
After the war the New England branch of Farnsworth Corp. was virtually wiped out by a forest fire that devastated Maine from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor in 1947, forcing Farnsworth to start over again from scratch.
Farnsworth worked on a variety of technical problems after the war, including guidance systems for the Bomarc, a pilotless interceptor, and atomic fusion.
Government funds eventually ran thin, and in 1969, Farnsworth organized a small, high technology research and development laboratory in Provo, at Brigham Young University.
The company failed to win significant work enough to keep it going, and closed its doors a year later. Farnsworth himself died in Salt Lake City, March 11, 1971.
Farnsworth never attained the captain of industry status of RCAs David Sarnoff, nor Sarnoff's wealth, but his invention revolutionized communications and the world.
A tinkerer to the end, Farnsworth had more ideas than he was able to develop. Ideas were more important than money to him.
He left an immense legacy to Utah and the world, and in the minds of Utah's legislature, deserves to be the state's second son in the U.S. Capitol.
In order to honor Farnsworth, Utah schoolchildren are raising $100,000 of the estimated $250,000 cost of the statue and its shipping and erection cost in Washington. So far, Carr says $50,000 has come from corporate gifts, leaving $100,000 to be subscribed by the public.
Donations are being received by the Philo T. Farnsworth Statuary Hall Commission, 617 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102.