Lee de Forest

954 Words Oct 22nd, 1999 4 Pages
Lee De Forest

Lee De Forest was born Aug. 26, 1873, Council Bluffs, Iowa. De Forest was the son of a Congregational minister. His father moved the family to Alabama and there assumed the presidency of the nearly bankrupt Talladega College for Negroes. Excluded by citizens of the white community who resented his father 's efforts to educate blacks, Lee and his brother and sister made friends from among the black children of the town and spent a happy although sternly disciplined childhood in this rural community. (Kraeuter, 74). As a child he was fascinated with machinery and was often excited when hearing of the many technological advances during the late 19th century. He began tinkering and inventing things even in high school,
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The audion helped AT&T set up coast-to-coast phone service, and it was also used in everything from radios to televisions to the first computers. (A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries, 1999). By the time he died he had over 300 patents, but few of them ever had much success. In fact, De Forest seemed to have a long streak of failures. He was regularly involved in patent lawsuits (indeed, he spent his fortune on legal bills). He went through four marriages, had a number of failed companies, was defrauded by his business partners, and was even once indicted (but later acquitted) for mail fraud. (Kraeuter, 79).

With the audion, however, De Forest had a solid success. De Forest has been labeled one of the fathers of the "electronic age," since the audion helped start the explosion of electronics earlier this century. American inventor of the Audion vacuum tube, which made live radio broadcasting possible and became the key component of all radio, telephone radar, television, and computer systems before the invention of the transistor in 1947. (Kraeuter, 79). Forest passed away on June 30, 1961 in Hollywood, CA. De Forest wrote an autobiography entitled Father of Radio, but did not get that recognition from the rest of the world. He is remembered as one contributor to an industry that was, truth, the work of many people. (Kraeuter, 79).

Kraeuter, David W. (1992). Radio and Television Pioneers.

New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press,

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