Elma Gardner Farnsworth, called “Pem” by friends, died yesterday of natural causes at a nursing home in Bountiful, Utah. She was 98. In 1926, she married a young inventor, Philo T Farnsworth, and was soon helping him in the laboratory as he invented the television. His first transmission, of a white horizontal line from one set to another, was in 1927. In 1929, he transmitted a three-and-a-half-inch image of Elma and her brother, Cliff Gardner. Other inventors demonstrated mechanical transmission of images in the 1920s, but it was Farnsworth’s work that led to the electronic TV we know today and, after her husband died in 1971, Elma Farnsworth made sure people remembered that fact. Despite claims by RCA that TV was the invention of its chief engineer, Vladimir Zworykin, courts ruled in 1935 that Farnsworth was the true father of TV. And we like to think of Elma as its mother. The HOLY MOTHER OF TV!
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