Vladimir Zworykin 1889-1982

Vladimir Zworykin demonstrates his cathode-ray tube.
Vladimir Kosma Zworykin / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

"I hate what they've done to my child...I would never let my own children watch it." - Vladimir Zworykin on his feelings about watching television.

Importance of Kinescope and Iconoscope

Russian inventor, Vladimir Zworykin invented the cathode-ray tube called the kinescope in 1929. The kinescope tube was sorely needed for television. Zworykin was one of the first to demonstrate a television system with all the features of modern picture tubes.

Zworykin also invented the iconoscope in 1923 - a tube for television transmission used in the first cameras. The iconoscope was later replaced but it laid the foundations for early television cameras.

Vladimir Zworykin - Background

Vladimir Zworykin was born in Murom, 200 miles east of Moscow, and studied electrical engineering at the Imperial Institute of Technology. Boris Rosing, a professor in charge of laboratory projects, tutored Zworykin and introduced his student to his experiments of transmitting pictures by wire. Together they experimented with a very early cathode-ray tube, developed in Germany by Karl Ferdinand Braun.

Rosing and Zworykin exhibited a television system in 1910, using a mechanical scanner in the transmitter and the electronic Braun tube in the receiver.

Rosing disappeared during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Zworykin escaped and briefly studied X-rays under Paul Langevin in Paris, before moving to the United States in 1919, to work at the Westinghouse laboratory in Pittsburgh.

On November 18, 1929, at a convention of radio engineers, Zworykin demonstrated a television receiver containing his kinescope.

Radio Corporation of America

Vladimir Zworykin was transferred by Westinghouse to work for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in Camden, New Jersey, as the new director of the Electronic Research Laboratory.

RCA owned most of Westinghouse at that time and had just bought the Jenkin's Television Company, makers of mechanical television systems, in order to receive their patents (see C. F. Jenkins).

Zworykin made improvements to his iconoscope, RCA funded his research to the tune of $150,000. The further improvements allegedly used an imaging section which was similar to Philo Farnsworth's patented dissector. Patent litigation forced RCA to start paying Farnsworth royalties.