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In tiny Rigby, Idaho
the inventor of TV is honored

From Out West #1

By Chuck Woodbury, editor
Philo Farnsworth gave Rigby a claim to fame, evidenced on its town welcome sign.
Out West
The newspaper that roams

Every TV celebrity should thank Philo T. Farnsworth. Without him, they’d be about as famous as Kmart clerks.

Farnsworth, you see, invented television.

His boyhood town of Rigby, Idaho, pop. 2,500, has posted a sign out on Interstate 20: “Rigby. Birthplace of TV.” They have even set up a little museum with Farnsworth stuff, including a few old television tubes. They hope some motorists will stop by for a peek. Hopefully they will spend a little money, too. Rigby needs it.

"The economy here is holding its own, but it would be nice to have some outside influence," said Connie Briggs, manager of the local branch of First Security Bank of Idaho. As it is, there are practically no tourists. To make matters worse, many local residents shop out of town.

Enter Philo T. Farnsworth, whose idea for television came at age 14 while looking at long rows he had just plowed on his family farm. His thought was to scan an optical image row after row from left to right, which would be converted into an electron image. As a freshman at Rigby High School, he drew a sketch for a teacher. Years later, when he had to prove in court that he invented television, the sketch clinched his case.

The museum. It's right downtown. You can't miss it.
On September 27, 1927, six years after his original idea, Farnsworth transmitted the first all-electric picture in a San Francisco apartment. Even though Farnsworth left Rigby while still in high school, the town has claimed him ever since. "People ask 'where's Rigby?' explained Jim Mitchell, owner of Mitchell's Ace Hardware. "I tell them it's where the television was invented."

Now, locals hope to capitalize further on the inventor. "Being the birthplace of television is a drawing card," said Virginia Morgan, vice-president of the Jefferson County Historical Society and museum booster. Morgan believes the museum will stimulate the economy. “Tourists will stop for gas, a meal and a room. The businessmen really need that.”

The Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It's located at 18 West 1st South. For more information call (208) 745-8423

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©2000 by Out West Newspaper

Do you have any comments or update information about this story? E-mail Chuck Woodbury


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