John Vassos

RCA Television Sets

Carroll Gantz
Vassos, John
RCA Mod TRK 12 TV set--1939

RCA introduced America's first consumer television receiver sets at the New York World's Fair in 1939. Picture tubes ranged in size from 5" to 12" and faced upward on top of the cabinet with a tilting mirror to view the picture horizontally. The illustration shown is a 12" Model TRK. All were designed by John Vassos, who established the first internal design department at RCA in 1933, and remained as a consultant until 1964. Vassos also designed the theme and concept of the RCA pavilion at the World's Fair, where in April, in a speech entitled "Birth of an Industry", RCA president David Sarnoff announced the first live television broadcasting of a news event --President Franklin Roosevelt addressing the crowd at the fair. Sarnoff predicted that television would one day become an important entertainment and information medium. Sarnoff soon publicly credited Vladimir K. Zworykin of RCA with the invention of television. Zworykin had just received a patent in 1938 for his iconoscope, a television camera with millions of tint photocells replicating the human eye. What Sarnoff did not reveal was that he was already paying royalties to the REAL inventor of television. The real inventor was Utah engineer Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971). In 1920, as a 14- year old high school student, Farnsworth conceived and described the electron-scanning process and by 1927 invented an electronic television image dissector (camera) tube and successfully transmitted a series of images far superior to current mechanical television systems (see below). He applied for a patent. In 1923 Vladimir K. Zworykin (1889-1982), a Russian immigrant then working for Westinghouse, filed a patent for a television camera, to scan a picture by entirely electronic means. He called it an iconoscope. Zworykin was hired by RCA in 1929 and given enormous resources to "invent around" the television patent applied for by Philo T. Farnsworth.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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