Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr.

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Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr.
Thomastgoldsmith1984-1.jpg
Goldsmith in 1984.
Born (1910-01-09)January 9, 1910
Greenville, South Carolina
Died March 5, 2009(2009-03-05) (aged 99)
Lacey, Washington
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields Physics
Institutions Furman University
DuMont Laboratories
Alma mater Cornell University
Furman University
Doctoral advisor Frederick Bidell
Known for Cathode ray tube amusement device
Inventor of First video game

Thomas Toliver Goldsmith, Jr. (January 9, 1910 – March 5, 2009) was an American television pioneer, the co-inventor of the first arcade game to use a cathode ray tube, and a professor of physics at Furman University.

Biography[edit]

Goldsmith was born in Greenville, South Carolina on January 9, 1910.[1][2][3] His parents were Thomas and Charlotte Goldsmith, a real estate broker and concert pianist respectively. As a teenager, he built crystal radio sets, and continued his interest in engineering as a graduate of Furman University in Greenville.[4] He received his B.S. at Furman University in Greenville in 1931, in physics, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1936 building an oscilloscope for his doctoral research, under the supervision of Dr. Frederick Bidell.[2][3][5] After graduating from Cornell, he became director of research for DuMont Laboratories, and (after 1953) vice president;[6] he chaired the Synchronization Panel of the National Television System Committee and also the Radio Manufacturers Association Committee on Cathode-Ray Tubes.[3] He also became the chief engineer for the DuMont Television Network;[7] television station WTTG, formerly in the DuMont network, is named for his initials.[8] In 1966 he left DuMont to become a professor of physics at Furman,[1] and he retired to become an emeritus professor in 1975.[5] He died on March 5, 2009 in Lacey, Washington.[9] Goldsmith died at the age of 99 due to a hip fracture leading to infection.

The first arcade game with a CRT[edit]

U.S. Patent 2,455,992, filed by Goldsmith and Estle Ray Mann in 1947, describes what may be the world's first cathode ray tube based game and patent, and was inspired by the radar displays used in World War II.[10] Goldsmith and Mann were granted their patent in 1948 making it the first ever patent for an electronic game. Entitled "Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device", the patent describes a game in which a player controls the CRT's electron gun much like an Etch A Sketch. The beam from the gun is focused at a single point on the screen to form a dot representing a missile, and the player tries to control the dot to hit paper targets put on the screen, with all hits detected mechanically. By connecting a cathode ray tube to an oscilloscope and devising knobs that controlled the angle and trajectory of the light traces displayed on the oscilloscope, they were able to invent a missile game that, when using screen overlays, created the effect of firing missiles at various targets.[11] To make the game more challenging, its circuits can alter the player's ability to aim the dot. Unfortunately, due to the equipment costs and various circumstances, the Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device was never released to the marketplace. Only handmade prototypes were ever created.[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

Goldsmith was a Life Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.[13] In 1949, he won an Institute of Radio Engineers Award "For his contributions in the development of cathode-ray instrumentation and in the field of television."[14] In 1979, the Radio Club of America honored Goldsmith with the first Allen B. DuMont Citation for "important contributions in the field of electronics to the science of television".[15] In 1999, Goldsmith won the first Dr. Charles Townes Individual Achievement Award as part of the Innovision Technology Awards competition honoring innovation in the upstate South Carolina area.[16] A comprehensive collection of artifacts and ephemera of his life and his inventions is housed in the Library of Congress. In 1967, he was selected as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national men's music fraternity, by Furman University's Gamma Eta chapter, which confers an annual award, in Goldsmith's honor, to the university's rising senior non-music major student who does the most to advance music in America.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Scopes' story: fits and starts", EE Times, 1997 .
  2. ^ a b Polkinghorn, Frank (May 14, 1973), Thomas Goldsmith: An Interview, IEEE History Center .
  3. ^ a b c "Contributors", Proceedings of the I.R.E., 1944: 248 
  4. ^ geek-life.com 
  5. ^ a b List of emeriti in Furman University catalog 2005–2006, p. 149.
  6. ^ "3 Promoted by DuMont; Officials of Laboratories Are Made Vice Presidents", New York Times, November 23, 1953 .
  7. ^ Weinstein, David (2004), The Forgotten Network: Dumont and the Birth of American Television, Temple University Press, ISBN 1-59213-499-8 .
  8. ^ Brennan, Patricia (May 14, 1995), "WTTG Marks 50 Years; Born In a Hotel Room", Washington Post .
  9. ^ "Thomas Toliver Goldsmith Jr.", The Olympian, March 11, 2009 .
  10. ^ Silberman, Gregory P. (August 30, 2006), "Patents Are Becoming Crucial to Video Games", The National Law Journal .
  11. ^ classicgames.about.com 
  12. ^ Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device – The First Electronic Game 
  13. ^ Life Fellows – SMPTE.org.
  14. ^ "I.R.E. Awards 1949", Proceedings of the I.R.E. 37 (4), 1949: 412–415 .
  15. ^ Radio Club of America – Awards.
  16. ^ Innovision Technology Award winners; Weaver, Terry (June 14, 2004), "Seeking companies with 'InnoVision'", Greenville News .