Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Jessica Farnsworth – The most famous man you never heard of

An evening pause: This man deserves more fame than he has gotten.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.


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  • Jim Davis

    Who is Jessica Farnsworth?

  • Jim Davis: The filmmaker. You should watch the video before asking questions.

  • john hare

    As an inventor myself, I find this somewhat depressing that the inventor didn’t profit from his work. Unfortunately, this is all too common in the field that it takes a lot more than developing a good idea to reach fame and fortune.

    I would like the people that keep telling me to get patents to watch this. So many have this mindset that a patent is automatic wealth. I call it parrot mode, “AWK get a patent, AWK get a patent.” And my stuff doesn’t have a fraction of a percent of the utility of this one. I do it because that’s the way my mind works and I enjoy it. Money is desired. but not central.

  • F16 Guy

    As a pilot for Delta Airlines, I would always make an announcement upon descent into the Salt Lake City area updating weather conditions, ETA, and especially, that “this was the home of Philo T Farnsworth” and would give a few pertinent facts about this not so famous man.
    Hopefully those PA’s assured that thousands of passengers sitting in the back of my 757 or 767 over the years DID know and learn something about him.

  • wayne

    F16 Guy–
    You, are a great American!

    john hare–
    check out some of his patents:

    additional factoid on Philo–
    “Farnsworth was posthumously presented the Eagle Scout award when it was discovered he’d earned it but had never been presented with it. It was presented to his wife Pem in 2006.”

  • Jay

    He was born in Utah, but he invented television in Idaho. I remember hearing about that in school all the time in Idaho.
    I am glad they brought up the lawsuit with RCA. RCA was notorious for stealing ideas and not paying patent holders, just like Howard Armstrong, who invented many radio technologies like FM. I remember watching a show years ago on NBC and they credited the head of RCA, David Sarnoff, as the father of television. That is false, Philo Farnsworth is the true father.

  • Matt in AZ

    The creators of Futurama knew who he was. Professor Farnsworth was named after him, and in the episode “All the President’s Heads” he states he’s a descendent of Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television.

  • john hare

    He was brilliant, prolific, and successfully awarded many patents as your link shows. My point is someone far above my capabilities didn’t become insanely wealthy or famous from it. For my part pursuing patents would be money and time down a rathole. I have no intention of applying unless there is a clear path to a multimillion dollar market in a fairly short period of time.

  • That was wonderful, thank you Robert.

  • Mike Borgelt

    I first heard about him via Michael J Flynn’s “The Wreck of the River of Stars”. The ship is powered by Farnsworth cage Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion reactors.
    BTW Flynn is a great SF writer.

  • Bob

    good video to introduce people to Farnsworth’s name but as an engineer I would like to see his invention put into context. What were the competitive systems? Why was his system superior?

  • Jay

    Yes, there were competing systems. The first developments were mechanical television which required a spinning disk to take and see the image on to photocells, but the resolution was very low.
    I have read articles in technical magazines/journals and watched documentaries about the history of the beginnings of television, but I have not seen a good historical book on the engineering of the technology. Of course books about the history of television will always talk about the first television shows and gloss over the technical history. I have no recommendations for the history of T.V. development, but I do have one for the development of radio – “Empire of the Air” by Tom Lewis. Ken Burns made a three part special on PBS, on the heels of his “Civil War” series, based upon the book but it is not as detailed into the technologies.

  • wayne

    See John Logie Baird (Scottish inventor), for fascinating stuff on mechanical-television in the 1920’s/30’s in Britain.
    Also see “Paul Nipkow,” credited with inventing the ‘spinning disc,’ method of image dissection in the late 1880’s/1890’s.

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