Lee de Forest

King of Radio, Television, and Film

  • Mike Adams

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Mike Adams
    Pages 1-39
  3. Mike Adams
    Pages 41-84
  4. Mike Adams
    Pages 85-123
  5. Mike Adams
    Pages 125-166
  6. Mike Adams
    Pages 167-202
  7. Mike Adams
    Pages 203-252
  8. Mike Adams
    Pages 253-303
  9. Mike Adams
    Pages 305-347
  10. Mike Adams
    Pages 349-387
  11. Mike Adams
    Pages 389-427
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 429-553

About this book


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.


Lee De Forest audio technology in movies audio track film history of sound cinema history of talkies light valve science cinema sound cinema sound-on-film synchronized sound cinema vacuum tube amplifier

Authors and affiliations

  • Mike Adams
    • 1
  1. 1., Department of Television, Radio, Film anSan José State UniversitySan JoséUSA

Bibliographic information