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Lee de Forest: King of Radio, Television, and Film Paperback – October 15, 2011

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1461404170 ISBN-10: 1461404177 Edition: 2012th

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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews:

“‘Lee de Forest: King of Radio, Television and Film’ – Author Mike Adams, a media professor at San Jose State University, knows radio and film: he brings those worlds together in his discussion of de Forest, including the inventor’s role in the film industry. This is a well-documented history book that media and technology history fans will appreciate.” (Radio World, September, 2012)

“Lee de Forest: King of Radio, Television, and Film … is the first full biography of the once-famous inventor to appear in years. Adams, a longtime San Jose State University faculty member and historian, has plumbed the de Forest archive for this study which brings to light many new details of a complex and sometimes maddening man. … An appendix provides details of many key patents. … This is an important book for the too-thin shelf on radio’s pioneers.” (Chris Sterling, CBQ Communication Booknotes Quarterly, Vol. 43 (2), April-June, 2012)

“We have a new and insightful biography of Lee de Forest, by long-term radio-history author Mike Adams. … the reader gets ‘basic training’ in motion-picture history and production theory, a helpful addition. … Adams treats the personality of de Forest with realism … . he had his admirers, especially himself, and did perform useful (!) work. This book is a real contribution to de Forest lore, well organized and satisfyingly written.” (Ludwell Sibley, Tube Collector, February, 2012)

“This book is well written, flows well and is easy to read. … I enjoyed the book very much. There are many very interesting images from the de Forest papers that I had not seen before … . The book and the images therein provide an opportunity for further research and insights into the real history of de Forest. … I certainly recommend this thought-provoking book to anyone interested in de Forest’s contributions to the evolution of radio … .” (Eric Wenaas, Antique Wireless Journal, Vol. 53 (1), January, 2012)

“At long last we have a biography of Lee de Forest, the self-proclaimed ‘father of radio.’ Mike Adams brings to life the story of a great inventor. … the reader will discover that Lee de Forest’s contributions went well beyond radio’s sound technology. … The book is organized into ten chapters walking the reader through life, controversies, inventions, and contributions. … a very significant contribution to the history of electronic media and motion pictures and to the scholarship and classrooms of both disciplines.” (Donald G. Godfrey, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 56 (2), 2012)

From the Back Cover

Lee de Forest, Yale doctorate and Oscar winner, gave voice to the radio and the motion picture. Yet by the 1930s, after the radio and the Talkies were regular features of American life, Lee de Forest had seemingly lost everything. Why? Why didn’t he receive the recognition and acclaim he sought his entire life until years later in 1959, when he was awarded an Oscar?

A lifelong innovator, Lee de Forest invented the three-element vacuum tube which he developed between 1906 and 1916 as a detector, amplifier, and oscillator of radio waves. As early as 1907, he was broadcasting music programming. In 1918, he began to develop a system for recording and playing back sound by using light patterns on motion picture film. In order to promote and demonstrate his process he made hundreds of short sound films, found theatres for their showing, and issued publicity to gain audiences for his invention. While he received many patents for this technology, he was ignored by the film industry.

Lee de Forest, King of Radio, Television, and Film is about the process of invention—how inventors really get ideas and how every inventor learns that they must know the work of those who came before, and why the myth of the lone inventor and the “Aha! moment” is largely a fiction.

Through his inventions, Lee de Forest made possible the mass entertainment media we enjoy today. This is his story.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 553 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2012 edition (October 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461404177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461404170
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mike Adams has been a radio personality and a film maker. Currently he is a professor of radio, television, and film at San Jose State University, where he has been a department chair and an associate dean. As a researcher and writer of broadcast and early technology history, he created two award-winning documentaries for PBS, the Emmy-nominated "Radio Collector" series, and "Broadcasting's Forgotten Father." He has had published numerous articles and four books, including Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting, and Lee de Forest, King of Radio, Television, and Film. More information about the author and his work can be found at www.mikeadams.org and www.leedeforest.org or www.youtube.com/professormikeadams

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gunther Purdue on November 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Adams has produced a substantial and engrossing account of one of America's most intriguing and controversial inventors. The volume is impressive in its thoroughness and insights. While a well-written biography, it is also a solid source of technological information about two of the 20th century's most significant creations--radio and film. It has been a long time in coming, but now there is a comprehensive examination of an often maligned (with some justification) figure in the panoply of great communication innovators. The book represents a formidable addition to the canon of publications devoted to the science of sound and media.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Sue St Clair on November 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mike Adams does a great job telling the story of this flawed inventor and the photos and patient drawings are perfect. The author and publisher spent a lot of the wordspace in describing the evolving entertainment media of the great days of radio. The author is a film director and this shows. It is lovingly crafted story, but digresses from the de Forest story enough that it is almost two books interwoven. One is about the history of the early days of radio and film and the other is about de Forest. I like that because de Forest's life was mostly about his work, but it violates my idea of a biography should be mainly about the life of the subject with just enough background to tell that story of the subject's time.
There is also a productive discussion about the role of the inventor and the mythology of invention. This is important because de Forest bought into this mythology of the lone genius. What I was looking for was a better understanding of the early days of radio and electronics and I am pleased with this nicely researched and written biography of this father of the vacuum radio tube.
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