De Forest, Lee, 1873-1961

Alternative names
Birth 1873-08-26
Death 1961-06-30

Biographical notes:

Lee De Forest was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on August 26, 1873. He was a graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University in 1896 and received a Ph.D. from Yale in 1899. He was an important contributor in the development of wireless telegraphy in the United States. He started multiple radio broadcasting companies and patented 300 inventions in his lifetime. In 1904, he was awarded the gold medal at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. He died on June 30, 1961.

From the guide to the Lee De Forest papers, 1896-1971, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Radio pioneer and inventor.

From the description of Lee De Forest papers, 1884-1955. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980067

Engineer, inventor.

From the description of Reminiscences of Lee De Forest : oral history, 1959. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122411658

Inventor and pioneer in radio broadcasting.

From the description of Papers, 1873-1961. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78732272

Iowa-born inventor, received a B.S. and Ph. D. from Yale. Worked on apparatus for radio telegraphy. Invented the triode (1906), the prototype of all electronic amplifiers. Among his other inventions were sound film and colored television. Lived in Palo Alto from 1910-1913 and moved back to California in 1930. Died in Hollywood in 1961. [Hart, Companion to California.].

From the description of Scrapbook, 1919-1924. (Natural History Museum Foundation, Los Angeles County). WorldCat record id: 18388812

Biographical Note

  • 1873, Aug. 26: Born, Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • 1896: Ph.B., Yale University,New Haven, Conn.
  • 1899: Ph.D., Yale University,New Haven, Conn.
  • 1900: Chicago, Ill. Chicago Joined Western Electric Co., Chicago, Ill. Designed alternating current transmitter Developed electrolytic receiver
  • 1901: Founded American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Co. (later United Wireless Telegraph Co.)
  • 1905: Developed first model of audion amplifier
  • 1906: Developed triode vacuum tube Married Lucille Sheardown (divorced 1907)
  • 1908: Married Nora Blatch (divorced 1911)
  • 1910: Broadcast voice of Enrico Caruso by radio from the Metropolitan Opera House,New York, N.Y.
  • 1912: Sold telephone repeater rights to American Telephone and Telegraph Co., which used his three electrode vacuum tube in first transcontinental telephony Married Mary Mayo (divorced 1930)
  • 1913: Demonstrated first oscillating audion tube Became vice president, Radio Telegraph Co. Became vice president, De Forest Radio Co.
  • 1916: Made first radio news broadcast Established radio broadcast station
  • 1919: Patented phonofilm device for making talking pictures
  • circa 1920: Published How to Set Up an Amateur Radio Receiving Station (New York, N.Y.: De Forest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Co. 32 pp.)
  • circa 1922: Published Wireless in the Home (New York, N.Y.: De Forest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Co. 32 pp.)
  • 1923: New York, N.Y. New York City Chelsea New York Demonstrated sound on film at Rivoli Theater, New York, N.Y. Organized De Forest Phonofilm Co.
  • 1926: D.Sc., Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • 1930: Married Marie Mosquini
  • 1934: Established Lee De Forest, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif.
  • 1942: Published Television, Today and Tomorrow (New York, N.Y.: Dial Press. 361 pp.)
  • 1947: Edison Medal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
  • 1950: Published Father of Radio (Chicago, Ill.: Wilcox and Fallett. 502 pp.)
  • 1951: Vice president, National Association for Better Radio and Television
  • 1961, June 30: Died, Hollywood, Calif.

From the guide to the Lee De Forest Papers, 1884-1955, (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


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  • Turbines
  • Physicists--Travel
  • Radio
  • Inventions
  • Inventors
  • Motion pictures--Research
  • Preparatory schools
  • Physicists--Biography
  • Sound--Recording and reproducing
  • Amplifiers, Vacuum-tube
  • Telegraph, Wireless (Technology)
  • Radio--History
  • Science--Philosophy
  • Electronics
  • Physics
  • Engineers--Interviews
  • Sound--Transmission
  • Science
  • Inventors--Biography
  • Triodes
  • Inventors--Interviews
  • Wireless communication systems


  • Radio pioneers
  • Inventors


  • United States (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)