Time Period: 1921-1950
Themes: business, marketing, media, science, and technology
Philo T. Farnsworth, a Utah farm boy, first sketched out his idea for television at the age of fourteen. Working independently, he kept giant corporations at bay and eventually developed a working electronic television system. But in spite of technological successes and legal victories, the relatively small Farnsworth Television Company faded as media giants came to dominate television.
1. What are some positive and negative effects of competition in different environments, such as sports, business, or academics?
1. How did Philo T. Farnsworth and David Sarnoff view competition? How were they affected by it? Do you think competition benefits or hurts inventors, creativity, and the public?
2a. What are some current efforts aimed at controlling access to television programming? Who should decide if the content of a television program or advertisement is appropriate for young people to watch? Why?
2b. Why do some people want to control access to information on the Internet? What types of information do they object to? Do you think there should be guidelines about what type of information is on the Internet? If yes, who should set the guidelines?
3. Organize the class into groups and ask them to create marketing plans that integrate the popular elements of 1920's movies and radio programs with Farnsworth's goals. Before the students begin, discuss Farnsworth's goals and why movies and radio were popular in the 1920's. After groups present their plans, discuss how Farnsworth may have felt about television when he appeared on the What's My Line? game show.
4. How did patents benefit and fail Farnsworth? Why were patents created? What are the advantages and disadvantages for inventors and for corporations?