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May 31, 2021 at 12:44 pm #1963
Lee de Forest (August 26, 1873 – June 30, 1961) was an American inventor and early pioneer in radio and in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. His most famous invention (1906) was the three-element “Audion” (triode) vacuum tube, the first practical amplification device. Although de Forest had only a limited understanding of how it worked, it was the foundation of the field of electronics, making possible radio broadcasting, long distance telephone lines, and talking motion pictures, among countless other applications.
From 1909 until 1921 de Forest, his third wife Nancy Mayo and their daughters lived in a palatial mansion that still stands at 2 River Road in Spuyten Duyvil (232st Street). He named his beloved estate “Riverlure” – where dreams come true.
There were many ups and downs for de Forest, many of them revolving around challenges to his invention of the Audion. His most famous legal battle was between himself and inventor Edwin Armstrong when they both simultaneously claimed they invented the regenerative or negative feedback principle of the Audion. This allowed feeding back weak signals at the tube’s output to its input to strengthen the signals.
This litigation lasted 20 years from 1914 to 1934, and through it all, Armstrong won the hearts of the technical community. Somewhat disgraced, de Forest’s peers no longer took him seriously as an inventor. de Forest had to sell his prized palatial estate Riverlure to pay for legal expenses during his long battle with Armstrong and others. It was at this stage of his life that he decided to live out his days in Hollywood.
Riverlure is now owned by the NYU Law School Foundation. Attempts to contact the Foundation were not reciprocated, but I plan to try again.
For more information on deforest and his life:
May 31, 2021 at 12:46 pm #1964
May 31, 2021 at 12:48 pm #1965
On the Frozen Hudson River
June 1, 2021 at 12:41 am #1967
Riverlure today (back view)
June 1, 2021 at 12:44 am #1968
June 1, 2021 at 10:24 pm #1970ndembowskiKeymaster
That’s fascinating to know. I wonder if anyone in the engineering program at Manhattan College knows about this neighborhood connection. Some of the conference rooms in their engineering program are filled with old vacuum tubes on display. At one point they even had a vacuum tube museum with thousands of tubes organized into displays by Brother Patrick Dowd. I am not sure if they still do.
June 3, 2021 at 4:12 pm #1974
Nick, I sincerely doubt it. Are you associated with MC?
June 3, 2021 at 7:12 pm #1975
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