..."wired" as in technologically savvy.
7 Things You Didn't Know a Mormon Invented
Jannalee Rosner - January 28, 2014
One can’t speak of the invention of the television without looking at its inventor, Philo T. Farnsworth. Philo was born in 1906 in Beaver, Utah. His family had followed Brigham Young to the Utah Valley, and Philo grew up on a ranch in Rigby, Idaho where his family moved after leaving Beaver.
Philo loved science and first had the idea for electric television when he was 14 years old. Though he did not have a college or high school education, he was greatly interested in electricity and shared an early sketch of his idea with a chemistry teacher in 1922. In 1927, at age 21, he introduced his electronic television, an image dissector camera tube lit with an arc light that transmitted the first image ever, a dollar sign.
One of America’s largest corporations at the time, RCA, offered to buy his patent for the equivalent of over $1 million today, but he refused. Despite being the man responsible for the invention, Farnsworth later told his son concerning television: “There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.” By the time of his death in 1971, Philo Farnsworth was credited with more than 300 U.S. and foreign patents.
2. Electric Guitar
Before Alvin McBurney, the guitar was not quite as exciting and innovative. He built the first electrical amplifier for the guitar when he was just 15 and got a patent for it several improvements later.
In 1927 Alvin changed his name to “Alvino Rey” (“Rey” means “King” in Spanish) to fit in with the popularity of Latin music at the time and in the late 1930s was recruited by the Gibson company to develop a prototype pickup as they developed the Electroharp pedal steel guitar. It picked up popularity and evolved into the current model of electric guitar.
Alvino was not born LDS but in fact converted when he married Mormon Luise King, one of the singing King Sisters he worked with in his time with Harold Heidt’s Musical Knights.
3. Traffic Light
The “flashing bird house” made its debut appearance at the intersection of 200 South and Main Street in Salt Lake City in 1912, manually operated by a patrolman. Though previous attempts had been made to create a mechanical traffic control, Mormon policeman Lester Wire’s traffic light was the first to use red and green electric lights.
Salt Lake citizens originally disapproved of the device, looking upon it as a novelty item or just blatantly ignoring it. Police occasionally found the device had been vandalized overnight and required time for repairs. Nevertheless, the traffic signal stuck around, and Wire’s design has been improved upon several times over into the regulated lights we see today.
4. Artificial Heart Transplant Surgery
December 2, 1982 marked an important day in medical history and Mormon history. LDS heart surgeon Dr. William DeVries received permission from the United States Food and Drug Administration to implant the polyurethane Jarvik-7 artificial heart in humans and performed the first transplant on fellow Mormon Barney Clark. It was a risky procedure, and Clark lived a much-longer-than-expected 112 days following the surgery.
5. Digital Sound and Movie Technology
The digital sound we now associate with CDs and DVDs started with the invention of technology that translated analog sound into a digital format. This technology was invented by Latter-day Saint Robert B. Ingebretsen and his mentor, professor Thomas Stockham.
Later, Ingebretsen wrote the software for the first practical digital audio editing system while working for Soundstream Inc. Sony and Philips beat Soundstream in producing CDs, however, partially because Ingebretsen and those he worked with never patented the digital audio editing technology they had originally created. Ingebretsen also created the first digital movie, a 20-second portrait of a hand, with the help of fellow Mormon Ed Catmull.
6. Hearing Aid
What began with an effort to measure the charge of an electron eventually evolved into what is now known as the hearing aid. Harvey Fletcher, a Mormon born in Provo, Utah, began trying to measure the charge of an electron, and quickly became involved with studying stereophonic sound while acting as head of physical research at the Bell Telephone Laboratories after graduating college.
The first presentation of “Three dimensional” sound was by Dr. Fletcher on January 24, 1934 and was described by many in attendance as “spooky.” Dr. Fletcher also did pioneering work on sound for motion pictures, television, and the transistor radio.
7. Odometer or "Road-o-meter"
Though various types of odometers had been invented by people such as Benjamin Franklin, the one invented by Mormon pioneers William Clayton and Appleton Harmon is counted as a new invention because it was different and more complex than all previous types of odometers. Thanks to the series of moving spokes and gears, Clayton was able to provide fairly accurate distance measurements of the path the pioneers took. When these were published, they were widely used by future pioneers, California-bound 49ers, and others traveling the same path.
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