dr. lee deforest

Dr. Lee deForest’s inventions have led more than one scholar to name him “the father of American radio.”

As a student at Yale University, Dr. deForest’s Ph.D. dissertation on high-frequency oscillation effects in parallel wires was one of the first treatises on radio waves and the possibilities of wireless communication. In 1906, deForest invented the three-element electron tube, calling it the audion. Unlike the “diode” tube developed by British engineer John Ambrose Fleming, de Forest’s “triode” audion tube could amplify signals and generate oscillations, making it possible to transmit sound over wireless communication systems. Eventually, deForest sold the audion patent to AT&T.

In 1907, the DeForest Radio Telephone Company was formed. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, deForest had broadcast from the Eiffel Tower and from the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. Installation of high-powered wireless stations sparked interest in radio throughout the country. By the 1920s, the use of tubes for transmitting signals had made radio sets in the home a reality.

Dr. Lee deForest died on June 30, 1961.

Dr. Lee deForest was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.