From video games to rodeo saddles, you may be surprised by all the things that were invented in Utah. Spend some time discovering all that the great minds of the Beehive State have achieved.
Most Americans can’t imagine living without a television, and they have Philo T. Farnsworth to thank for this entertaining and informative device. Farnsworth started creating the world’s first all-electronic television when he was only 15 years old and went on to obtain more than 300 patents throughout the U.S. and abroad. The inventor was born in 1906 in southwestern Utah and grew up fascinated by items like the Bell telephone and Edison gramophone. At the time, the Nipkow-disc television was the only thing close to Farnsworth’s idea, but it was an unstable, impractical creation. Farnsworth developed a vacuum tube that could reproduce images electronically by shooting a beam of electrons against a light-sensitive screen. Despite having to drop out of Brigham Young University due to his father’s death, Farnsworth created a working model of his all-electric television in 1927. Take a visit to the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City to see a statue of Philo T. Farnsworth, located in the 165-foot tall rotunda. For more information, go to www.utah.com/culture/capitol.htm.
Few individuals claim to be as talented or versatile as Earl Bascom; the man was both a rodeo champion and a master sculptor. Born in a log cabin in Utah in 1906, Bascom participated in rodeos for 25 years, earning membership into four halls of fame and setting new records. He invented the first hornless rodeo saddle in 1922 and the first one-handed bareback rigging in 1924, both of which are now used in professional rodeos throughout the world. In addition to his inventions, Bascom was also an impressive sculptor, and a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Arts in London. In 1968, film star Roy Rogers noted that, "Earl Bascom is a walking history book. His knowledge of the Old West was acquired the old-fashioned way – he was born and raised in it." Today, you can find both Bascom’s artwork and rodeo innovations in places like the Uintah County Western Heritage Museum (www.westernheritagemuseum-uc-ut.org) in Vernal, and the Utah Sports Hall of Fame (www.utahsportshalloffame.org) in Salt Lake City. Learn more about this cowboy inventor at www.bascombronze.com.
Often referred to as the father of electronic gaming, Nolan Bushnell invented Pong, a game that undeniably led to the development of modern-day video games. Bushnell grew up in Utah in the 1940s and later attended the University of Utah where he studied computer graphics. Bushnell’s first computer game, Computer Space, was considered too complicated for 1970 and never entered mass production. In an effort to simplify, the computer whiz created Pong, a video-game version of ping-pong. Bushnell founded Atari in 1972 with only $500, and he went on to make major contributions to the video gaming industry. Interestingly, Bushnell later founded 17 more companies, one of which was Chuck E. Cheese, a place where kids could eat pizza while enjoying a variety of electronic games. Looking for a place to test your own gaming skills? Head to Nickelmania arcade, in either Murray or West Jordan. Find special deals at www.nickelmaniagames.com.
Whether you have an idea for the next big thing or you just want to learn a little bit about local history, there are plenty of American innovations that call Utah home.