Philo Taylor Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) was an American inventor and television pioneer. Although he made many contributions that were crucial to the early development of all-electronic television, he is perhaps best known for inventing the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), the "image dissector", the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system, and for being the first person to demonstrate such a system to the public.
In later life, Farnsworth invented a small nuclear fusion device, the Farnsworth–Hirsch Fusor, or simply "fusor", employing inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC). Although not a practical device for generating nuclear energy, the fusor serves as a viable source of neutrons. The design of this device has been the acknowledged inspiration for other fusion approaches including the Polywell reactor concept in terms of a general approach to fusion design.
Farnsworth was born on August 19, 1906 to Lewis Edwin Farnsworth and Serena Amanda Bastian, a Mormon couple then living in a log cabin built by Lewis's father in a place called Indian Creek near Beaver, Utah. The family moved to a farm in Rigby, Idaho in 1918, where Lewis supplemented his farming income by hauling freight with his horse-drawn wagon. Philo was excited to find his new home was wired for electricity, with a Delco generator providing power for lighting and farm machinery. He was a quick study in mechanical and electrical technology, repairing the troublesome generator, and upon finding a burned out electric motor among some items discarded by the previous tenants, proceeding to rewind the armature and convert his mother's hand-powered washing machine into an electric-powered one. Philo developed an early interest in electronics after his first telephone conversation with an out-of-state relative and the discovery of a large cache of technology magazines in the attic of the family’s new home.