Born in the Midwest and educated on the East Coast, Lee de Forest had spent most of his early inventive years in Chicago and New York City. In 1911, he moved west to California, living for a time in what would be later known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, and Stanford University. Less than 25 miles south of San Francisco, he will find in this tiny town a research and development environment where he can improve upon his basic Audion. Working with other progressive engineers and Stanford professors, he is allowed some freedom and the support to discover new uses for his three-element vacuum tube. And there will be the usual de Forest drama. He’ll write poetry about his love for the natural beauty of California, and for a brief time he will live an idyllic inventor’s life, but that will soon be interrupted by a warrant for his arrest, a return to a life of poverty, and embarrassment at the San Francisco World’s Fair. On the bright side he will travel to New York and meet and marry his third temporary wife.
- Motion Picture
- Film Production
- Audience Member
- Radio Broadcasting
- Silent Film
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de Forest diary and autobiography notes, remembrances of 1916, written in the mid 1920s, Perham de Forest papers.
The author learned to make films as a graduate student. Later in his career he both made films and taught film production using actual film and later video. Two of his documentaries, “Radio Collector,” and “Broadcasting’s Forgotten Father: The Charles Herrold Story,” were aired nationally on PBS. “Radio Collector” was nominated for an Emmy. The author wrote, produced, directed, edited and hosted both of these films. The author’s first book was a university-level textbook that described the film making process as he taught it, Single Camera Video, the Creative Challenge, Wm. C. Brown Co. publishers, 1992.
Barnaby C. Dallas, Play, Photoplay, and Screenplay Structure: Dramatic Principles from Theater to Cinema, Master’s Thesis, San Jose State University, 2000, pp 35–53.
For this book the Author has watched and made notes on hundreds of early films. Many of these can be found in the collections, “Treasures” and “More Treasures from the American Film Archives 1894-1931,” National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004, San Francisco, and the Edison collection from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, all widely available on DVD from Amazon, TCM Cable and others.
See the DVD collections, above.
Alex Ben Block editor, George Lucas’s Blockbusting, Harper-Collins, NY, 2010, p41.
Peter Kobel and the Library of Congress, Silent Movies, the Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, Little, Brown and Co, NY, 2007, p69.
“The End of an Era,” television documentary written by historian Kevin Brownlow, Thames Television, 1980.
William K. Everson, American Silent Film, Da Capo Press, NY, 1998, p32.
Ibid., pp 42–43.
Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By, Ballantine Books, 1968, p88.
Booklet with DVD series, “More Treasures from the American Film Archives 1894-1931,” National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004, San Francisco. A group of knowledgeable film historians have added greatly to the understand of these early films.
Peter Kobel and the Library of Congress, Silent Movies, the Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, Little, Brown and Co, NY, 2007, p179.
The opening title “disclaimer” for Birth of a Nation, DW Griffith, 1915, DVD version, re-mastered in 2009.
Birth of a Nation, DW Griffith, 1915, DVD.
Ibid., title “reconstruction disclaimer.”
Ibid., title, the Klan saves the South.
Peter Kobel and the Library of Congress, Silent Movies, the Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, Little, Brown and Co, NY, 2007, p183.
Neil Young, Southern Man, album, “After the Gold Rush,” 1970.
More Treasures from the American Film Archives, DVD.
William K. Everson, American Silent Film, Da Capo Press, NY, 1998, p124.
Peter Kobel and the Library of Congress, Silent Movies, Little, Brown and Co, NY, 2007, p40.
Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By, Ballantine Books, 1968, p34.
Christopher Sterling, “Children’s Books Devoted to or Emphasizing Telegraph, Telephone, Wireless, Radio or Television, 1879–1990,” sixth edition, 2009, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University, see the complete list in an earlier chapter.
Victor Appleton, The Moving Picture Boys, Grossett and Dunlap, NY, Vol 1, 1913, p6.
Victor Appleton, Tom Swift and his Wizard Camera, Grosset & Dunlap, 1912, pp 40–41.
Victor Appleton, Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone, p91.
Cyril Elwell, “Autobiography,” unpublished, 1943, Clark Radiana Collection, Smithsonian.
New York Times March 28, 1912.
de Forest diary, March, 1912, Perham de Forest papers, History San Jose.
This letter, written while in Palo Alto in 1912, is from a collection of Palo Alto writings, in the Perham de Forest papers.
New York Times December 6, 1913.
George Parmly, letter to Guy Beardsley, Secretary, Yale Class of 1896, November, 1914, Perham de Forest papers.
New York Times, December 6, 1913.
The source for this claim is the famous drawing dated August 1912, and notarized by lab assistant van Etten. This was used for “proof” in the various de Forest v. Armstrong trials, because is showed that de Forest had the idea for regeneration a few months before Armstrong. Even though some scientists believed that de Forest either forged this note or didn’t understand the significance of what he had discovered, he did prevail all the way up to the Supreme Court. From the Perham de Forest papers.
FOR, pp 305–306.
About the 1913 Biograph job: there are minimal and undocumented references in the Maurice Zouary biography and FOR; this job apparently lasted a very short time and it is one of the least-documented, evidence-wise, of the early de Forest work in synchronized film sound.
Carneal, Conquerer, p255.
From the notebook called “Notes, Ideas, Inventions,” 1914–1915, Perham de Forest papers.
Bart Lee, AWA Review no. 22, Antique Wireless Association, 2009, NY.
Lee de Forest, saved remembrances of 1916, but perhaps written in the early 1920s and saved for future biographical records, Perham de Forest papers.
AT&T Booklet for 1915 PPIE, “The Story of a Great Achievement,” Perham de Forest papers.
de Forest Booklet for 1915 PPIE, “The Story of a Great Achievement,” Perham de Forest papers.
New York Times, November 16, 1915.
New York Times December 11, 1915.
Letter from de Forest in France to wife Mary in New York, 1915, Perham de Forest papers.
A collection of remembrances of December 1916, probably written in the 1920s as saved biographical information, Perham de Forest papers.
Collection of remembrances of December 1916, probably written in the early 1920s, Perham de Forest papers.
Susan Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1987, p293.
New York Times, October 27, 1916.
Gordon Greb and Mike Adams, Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting, 2003, McFarland, NC.
Collected reminiscences of September 1916, perhaps written in the early 1920s for future biographical use, Perham de Forest papers.
De Forest remembrances of September 1916, perhaps written later in the 1920s for future biographical information, Perham de Forest papers.
A de Forest speech, exact date unknown other than 1917, Perham de Forest papers.
Collected remembrances of September 1916, likely written in the 1920s for future biographies, Perham de Forest papers.
Adams and Greb, Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting, 2003, McFarland, NC.
Clinton de Soto, Two Hundred Meters and Down, American Radio Relay League, 1936.
Eric Barnouw, A Tower in Babel, Oxford University, 1966, p45.
New York Times, series of headlines of war dead, 1918–1919.
Eric Barnouw, A Tower in Babel, Oxford University, 1966, p52.
Mike Adams, television interview of Don Wallace, “Radio Collector,” documentary series, PBS, 1985.
Eric Barnouw, A Tower in Babel, Oxford University, 1966, p53.
Collected remembrances of September 1919, perhaps written in the early 1920s for future biographical reference, Perham de Forest papers.
Berkeley Gazette, September 19, 1919.
Stanstead Journal, August 29, 1919.
De Forest diary, January 28, 1920, Perham de Forest papers.
This writing begins a lengthy series of diary entries on sound-on-film progress: “On this day I made a photographic voice record on film with ‘talking flame …,’” was the first of these. All of these will begin in Chap. 6 as the de Forest inventing life moves to the talking motion picture, from the Perham de Forest papers.
de Forest diary, November 2, 1920, Perham de Forest papers.
de Forest diary, October 5, 1920, Perham de Forest papers.
A hand-written birthday letter to de Forest from his mother Anna, August 21, 1920, from the Seaver Center on Western History, de Forest scrapbook collection, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. To be abbreviated “Seaver Center.”
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Adams, M. (2012). California Days. In: Lee de Forest. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-0418-7_4
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