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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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De Forest Phonofilm: 1924

De Forest Phonofilm: 1924

1924. "De Forest Phonofilm Co. Inc. on White House grounds." The inventor and "father of radio" Lee de Forest, center, and components of his sound-on-film system. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

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De Forest wrote about this in his journal, August 15, 1924:

"Case brought his Bell and Howell camera and amplifier down in an auto from Auburn. After due formalities in the executive offices we set up the camera and amplifier under a wide spreading tree near the south side of the White House, where everything would be pleasant and comfortable for our president. He walked out alone, in a business suit at 12 o'clock. While Case and Blakely, my cameraman [n.b. the man in the right in the photo] were there alone, I was much peeved that we had set the camera up in the full sunlight, where doubtless he would have suffered as sunstroke before he finished his 9 minute address. However the camera was left in that position and promptly at 2pm after sundry cops and secret service men had stationed themselves about the landscape, an awful silence reigned on the earth. And after an audience had collected—of people of all ages and sexes and [he] read off his speech with the greatest gusto—so much so in fact, for the best results on the carbon microphone. But I think he won a number of votes right there. We had him speak twice and will use the better of the two. So our one day's stay was very brief but very successful."

Coolidge Speaks!

On De Forest Phonofilm on the White House grounds, August 11, 1924.

Empire of the Air

Lee de Forest is one of the three major figures profiled in Ken Burns' film, "Empire of the Air," along with David Sarnoff and Edwin Howard Armstrong.

The film is highly recommended for Shorpy followers. I believe it's available on a PBS web site.

Straw boater

I know this was the heyday of the straw boater, and I have always loved them. But, for the life of me I can't imagine how careful one must have had to be to wear one and not crush the crown or the brim as one went about one's business, taking it on and off, hanging it on hooks, laying it down where it would not get sat upon when in restaurants, or out taking sound pictures, etc.

Theodore Case

De Forest tried to take credit for Case's work, which led Case to break their association. Case went on to work with Fox Movietone.

Field Recorder

My Nagra 4 was more portable.

Theodore Case

The young man on the left is Theodore Case, the inventor who pioneered sound-on-film technology and at the time de Forest's collaborator.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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