Talk:David Sarnoff

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Sarnoff a Belarusian-American?[edit]

In what sense? He was not born in Belarus, because it did not exist. He was born in Russia, Russian Empire. Someone born on Dalmatian coast in Roman Empire is a Roman, not a Yugoslav or a Croatian. That's just common sense. Further David Sarnoff's ethnicity is not Belarusian because that concept was not yet invented. He was born in a Russian speaking Jewish family in Russian Empire and had Russian last name, so how come the concept of his Belarusian-ness come into picture? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A00:1028:83A2:3D86:28F0:7C66:4D4B:D495 (talk) 09:27, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Titanic story[edit]

The current revision uses an archival article in the links section of the Sources to show that Sarnoff was engaged both at the Wanamaker and then the Seagate station. Focusing on the irrelevancy of his self-promotion rather than what he actually did is to miss the point of the man's life. It's a bit like harping at Jimmy Wales's dabbling in internet porn early in his career rather than what he's done to make this resource work as well as it has. Judson 01:11, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

According to David E. Fisher in "Tube", the Titanic story is not correct. pg. 110-111, "But it never happened. The Titanic sank on a Sunday and Wanamaker's was closed on that day.... The first of survivors came not from Wanamaker's but from the Marconi station at Cape Race..." The book continues to say that Sarnoff was one of the operators who picked up early accounts, but that the Wanamaker's station was closed down by the Marconi company and only four stations were active handling Titanic-related traffic.--Wtshymanski 01:17, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

David E. Fisher and Marshall J. Fisher, Tube, the Invention of Television Counterpoint, Washington D.C. USA, (1996) ISBN 1887178171

Incomplete biography[edit]

This article is woefully incomplete in its description of Sarnoff's business practices as he built a media monopoly that would make today's companies blush. There should be mention of the ruthless legal pursuits, repressions, and exploitations of novel media technologies, and the activites that led to the death of Armstrong.

I agree with this totally. The Sarnoff bio should include a section on his use of the legal process to wear down rivals who bested RCA in developing technology - particularly Philo T. Farnsworth and Edwin H. Armstrong. The section on television is written in a particularly slanted way, only mentioning Farnsworth (the man who certainly had the largest role in actually inventing electronic television) in the second paragraph, mentioning that Farnsworth "managed" to secure patents in 1930, notably after the 1928 meeting between Zworykin and Sarnoff. This seems a particularly slanted chronology, since it fails to mention the work that Farnsworth had done long before 1928. Rickterp 04:41, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Sarnoff: hype or truth[edit]

There are an amazing number of people ready to talk about Sarnoff the genius, Sarnoff the business man, etc. The IEEE link positively gushes about Sarnoff.

The problem is, none of it was true. Sarnoff had a habit of both lying, and taking credit for other peoples accomplishments. Sarnoff lied about being "one of the first to hear the Titanic", and repeated that story to climb the ranks in management. Sarnoff stole technology from Farnsworth, Armstrong and others.

The true picture of Sarnoff is the Bill Gates of his day,

[Not true!!! Bill Gates is much nicer and only takes credit for inventing Microsoft and seeing Windows thru its teething pains, which IBM so famously failed to do, even given repeated opportunities. normxxx 19:04, 5 January 2006 (UTC)]

taking credit for what his underlings did, stealing technology from others confident that he could prevail with RCA's bank account in court, and using his power at RCA to build up an inaccurate picture of his own personal history.

The facts are out there. Wikipedia should be printing the facts about Sarnoff, not acting as yet another PR outlet for him.

My 2 cents.--Samiam95124 21:05, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

True enough; but as Leo durocher, manager of the N.Y. Giant Baseball team, was so famously reputed to have said, "Nice guys finish last!" normxxx 19:04, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I also agree this article seems whitewashed. Someone should bring it back to an objective point of view instead. Angry bee (talk) 14:45, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

This article opens with 'he founded NBC' and later on says he did not found NBC. Which is the case? DeepNorth (talk) 01:36, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

First President to Appear on TV: Herbert Hoover[edit]

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be shown on TV (at the 1939 New York World's Fair).

This is totally disingenuous and misleading! "On April 7, 1927, a group of newspaper reporters and dignitaries gathered at the AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories auditorium in New York City to see the first American demonstration of something new: television. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover provided the “entertainment,” as his live picture and voice were transmitted over telephone lines from Washington, D.C., to New York." ... " Herbert Ives, the AT&T researcher who led the television project, followed that triumph with color television in 1929 and two-way interactive television in 1930, using video telephone booths connecting the AT&T and Bell Labs headquarters buildings in New York." See normxxx 19:04, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

You are correct about Herbert Hoover, who appeared in a CLOSED CIRCUIT, WIRED transmission in 1927. However, Hoover was not President at the time, and the A T & T offering was a crude, early system which was not fully electronic. When Roosevelt appeared on television from the 1939 World's Fair, the transmission was in the modern "all-electronic" system, the program was actually BROADCAST (key point) on the air over NBC's New York televison station W2XBS (now WNBC) transmitting from the top of the Empire State Building and was seen by an estimated 1,000 people over roughly 200 sets, many of which were off-site throughout the New York metro area. Peter Goldmark of CBS describes (in his book) watching the broadcast on his home set. Note: There is no doubt that Sarnoff carfully crafted his public image in a mixture of half-truths and folklore, and his ruthless business behavior regarding Philo Farnsworth (more responsible for the invention of TV than anyone at RCA), Edwin Armstrong the inventor of FM (an old friend who Sarnoff gyped out of patent payments and used his poltical connections in Washington to try to kill FM) and others reveal a highly flawed man. Credit where credit is due, commercial television might not have happened until much later without Sarnoff's bankroll and ballyhoo, but he was more P.T. Barnham than anything else in the overall history of television in America. (user DS1951).

Neutral Point of View[edit]

I've long wondered about this article and whether it has a neutral point of view, particularly surrounding the invention of television. This article, in my opinion, has tended to present a chronology of the invention of television that is close to Sarnoff's view of that history and largely ignores the alternative view of Philo Farnsworth. I've just made a couple small edits to the RCA 1919-1956 text, changing the line about Farnsworth having "managed to secure" patents to the neutral "had been granted" and inserting language about legal battles with Farnsworth being part of the invention of television --- these legal battles are part of the historic record and should be mentioned in this section. I'm not sure these edits go far enough to establish a NPOV, but this seems like a modest step in this direction.

Should there be more about Edwin Armstrong here as well? How about a Criticism section like Thomas Edison? I'm curious to see first how my edits on the invention of television are received. Rickterp 14:59, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

More Armstrong[edit]

I am outraged that any reference to Edwin Armstrong was removed or omitted from this page. Apparently a "neutral view" means a "goody goody" view to some, and apparently the some have the most power. Edison was always my hero- he still is but I accept that he made an error in not embracing Tesla's work and AC power, as well as other shortcomings all people have somewhere. I find Wikipedia very useful, but the bias I run into over and over again is very disturbing.

Well, then you should the article. It isn't sacred you know. Just cite your references. And watch for vandals who revert without notice. Angry bee (talk) 14:43, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Today, the Sarnoff clan continues to expand. So what?[edit]

Sarnoff's sons might reasonably be included on this page, but the listing of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren moves this article well past encyclopedic and into the realm of the genealogical - while managing to sound like the Christmas card letter of a typical modern family (i.e. "... children with his first wife", "...daughters by his second marriage"). The article of as great a man as Dwight D. Eisenhower manages to limit his descendants to his grandchildren - due in part, I'm sure, because one of them, David, had the presidential retreat named after him AND married Richard Nixon's daughter (Nixon's article does not even name his grandchildren!). I move to strike Sarnoff's grandchildren and great-grandchildren from this page until they do something to distinguish themselves in their own right. Any well-reasoned objections? --Blake the bookbinder (talk) 01:45, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Compare, e.g., Jacob Schiff#Family ...? --Tenmei (talk) 20:55, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
Agree. At most, people who are strongly associated with article topic belong in article. To my mind, that doesn't necessarily even include children or wife. Without support, there is no reason to add more distant relatives...particularly when accompanied by questionable material such as "Today, the Sarnoff clan continues to expand."
On a pragmatic level, an editor I was having a similar discussion with hadn't considered how quickly the number of relations grows. In that case (not here) there were quite literally 100s of people who were closely related. Piano non troppo (talk) 06:38, 29 December 2008 (UTC)


I reacall a NYT article stating that Sarnoff said "Ladies and gentlemen we now have sight with sound." Does anyone know if he actually spoke these first words on commercial TV?

Myersed (talk) 22:38, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Is this quote worthy?[edit]

I was surprised to see Sarnoff make the following statement in a 1950 March of Time newsreel (Vol 16 No 1) recently shown on TCM: "In the next half century, people will see, as well as hear, around the world. Pocket-size radio instruments will allow individuals to communicate with anyone, anywhere. Newspapers, magazines, mail, and messages will be sent through the air at lightning speed, and reproduced in the home." This sounds to me like a prediction of the mobile internet that has grown up in the past decade. Is this something worth pointing out on the main page? (talk) 03:03, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

NBC founding rumor removal[edit]

I removed the claim that he founded NBC per this article at the Museum of Broadcast Communications: --| Uncle Milty | talk | 03:13, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

General Sarnoff???[edit]

I always heard him referred to as "Colonel Sarnoff" but I just looked up a military web site and yes, he was a Brigadier. But I never heard of him referred to as "General." He was quite famous well into the 1970s.Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 19:58, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Marconi link error[edit]

In the first graf of the Early Life section, the link to "Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America" is redirecting to "Marconi Company." That's all well and good, but the "Marconi Company" article has no mention of Marconi's American venture and instead focuses exclusively on the UK-based organization. Although the RCA article has very little mention of its Marconi-named predecessor, I can't find a better page to aim that link at. Thoughts? (talk) 23:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

RCA errors[edit]

The third graf of the RCA section starts "In 1926, RCA purchased its first radio station (WEAF, New York) and launched the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the first radio network in America.", a sentence with two historical errors. RCA did purchase WEAF in 1926, but it had owned WJZ since 1923 and started WJY (which was briefly combined with WJZ after the latter was purchased from Westinghouse) earlier, in 1921. NBC was the first radio network in America to maintain permanent links between affiliated stations and offer full time scheduled programming, but WEAF's previous owner AT&T had been operating its own network for the previous two years, offering occasional programs of national significance on an ad hoc basis, to stations as far flung as Atlanta, Oakland, Dallas, Providence, and Washington, all of which are roll-called on at least one 1924 broadcast that survives in recorded form. Shoshani (talk) 15:28, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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