Sarnoff, David

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Sarnoff, David,

1891–1971, American pioneer in radio and television, b. Russia. Emigrating to the United States in 1900, he worked for the Marconi Wireless Company, winning recognition as the narrator of the news of the Titanic disaster (1912). In 1915, he proposed a "radio music box" that led to radio broadcasting as it is known today. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) absorbed the Marconi firm in 1921, and Sarnoff became general manager. As president (after 1930) and eventually chief executive officer (1947–66) and chairman of the board (1947–70) of RCA, he helped develop black-and-white and compatible color television. In 1944, the Television Broadcaster's Association gave Sarnoff the title "Father of American Television," a moniker appropriate for his contribution to the development of commercial television broadcasting but misleading in terms of the development of television technology. He served Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II as adviser on communications. Active in public affairs, he was often a spokesman for the broadcasting industry.


See R. Sobel, RCA (1986); K. Bilby, The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry (1986).

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Sarnoff, David

(1891–1971) broadcast pioneer/executive; born in Uzlian, Russia. He emigrated to New York City with his family at age nine and studied electrical engineering at the Pratt Institute. He gained national recognition in 1912 as a Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. operator by reporting on the sinking of the Titanic and then staying at his station for 72 hours to help direct ships to the sinking liner. When the newly formed Radio Corporation of America (RCA) acquired Marconi Wireless, he rose through the ranks, becoming RCA's president and chairman, and retiring in 1970. A man with a clear vision of broadcasting's future, he predicted radio would become a basic household utility and proposed designing "Radio Music Boxes." Foreseeing the need for programming networks, he set up the National Broadcasting Co. in 1926 to stimulate RCA's radio sales. He was responsible for the first American television service, arranging for RCA to televise programs in 1936 to 150 homes in the New York City area. Under his guidance, RCA developed the black-and-white-compatible color television system adopted by the Federal Communication Commission in 1953, and the National Broadcasting Company took the lead in broadcasting color television. A colonel in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1924, he was promoted to brigadier general while on active duty in 1944–45 and thereafter enjoyed being called General Sarnoff.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
And thus the career of General David Sarnoff was launched.
IN "THE DAY THE TV DIED" [WQ, Spring '08], Stephen Bates oversimplifies TV program choices in David Sarnoff's era, characterizing them as 'limited: Uncle Miltie or Aunt Bea, Car 54 or Agent 99, Captain Kirk or Colonel Klink."
(17) David Sarnoff, a remarkable American success story, planted the seed that germinated into the Voice of America.
"COMPETITION BRINGS out the best in products and the worst in people," said the late David Sarnoff, a pioneer in the broadcast industry and RCA's longtime chief.
For a while, TV moguls such as NBC's David Sarnoff and CBS's Bill Paley agreed.
While a detailed explication of Horowitz's position is beyond the scope of this review, the crux of his response is that the true sacralizers were not Higginson, Seidl, or Thomas, but rather those active in the interwar years of the twentieth century, such as Toscanini and David Sarnoff, primary subjects of book 2 (p.
Developed at US record label RCA's David Sarnoff Research Centre, near Princeton, New Jersey, it was the brainchild of Harry Olson and Herbert Belar.
Then, in 1993-94, the David Sarnoff Research Center introduced substantially smaller room-temperature lasers offering different wave lengths for gas measurement.
He wrote: "RKO was formed in 1928 when David Sarnoff, president of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) joined forces with Joseph P Kennedy, father of future US President John F Kennedy, to merge a vaudeville theatre chain, the Keith-Albee-Orpheum chain, with the infant Pathe Studios and the Film Booking Office of America (FBO).
to r): Phil Dusenberry, former chairman, BBDO North America; Lorraine Thomas, accepting for her late husband, Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's International; Rosita Sarnoff, senior vice president, Stribling & Associates, accepting for her grandfather, the legendary David Sarnoff, RCA chairman; and Hall (Cap) Adams Jr., retired chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide.
Flaherty himself quoted David Sarnoff from a 1935 report in which Sarnoff called the new 343-1ine system, "high-definition television," and reminded us that the 525 NTSC standard was introduced as a "high-deftnition color TV system."