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A History Lesson On The 'Father of Radio,' Lee De Forest

A trip back in time to the origin behind the creator of live radio broadcasting.

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The "father of radio," the "grandfather of television," the man who created live radio broadcasting, Lee de Forest was a man who forever changed the history of radio and television. Lee de Forest was born on August 26th of 1873, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Furthermore, he was the son of a Congregational minister who had a presidential position at Talladega College, a bankrupt school with mostly African Americans. Lucky for Lee, he fit in perfectly as part of the community. Lee's father wanted a career for him in the clergy, but Lee preferred science which led to his enrollment in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University in 1893. Within six years, Lee was working many jobs, making the best out of his scholarship and the best out of his allowance from his parents to later achieve his Ph.D. in 1899 in physics.

Around 1899, electricity started to be an interest to Lee, specifically electromagnetic- wave propagation."De Forest's doctoral dissertation on the "Reflection of Hertzian Waves from the Ends of Parallel Wires" was possibly the first doctoral thesis in the United States on the subject that was later to become known as radio" (E. Fielding, Raymond). Lee began to work at the Western Electric Company in Chicago, starting off in the telephone section and leading him to the experimental laboratory. Furthermore, working after hours granted Lee with his first invention, an electrolytic detector of Hertzian waves, which became moderately successful. In 1902, De Forest founded the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company to allow a new medium of communication to be born and spread to the press, military, businesses, and the people. Wireless telegraphy was the route of creation De Forest took, leading him to create the "Audion" because of his dedication to this new form of communication.

The Audion was a more evolved detector; it had a stronger reception towards wireless signals than Carborundum and electrolytic detectors. Furthermore, in 1907 Lee began to take advantage of his invention by broadcasting music and speech to the people living in the New York City area. Although with his newly made invention, also came the downfalls in Lee's life. He was defrauded twice by business partners, involved in many patent lawsuits, had four unsuccessful marriages, and was indicted for mail fraud, which was later acquitted. Furthermore, Lee fell victim to many failed inventions and had a hard time trying to convey his new medium.

On the contrary, in 1910 was Lee's first broadcast of any sort of performance. Specifically, it was a live performance of opera, sung by Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera. This broadcast allowed Lee to share his new medium with the general public and to get ideas on how his creation could evolve.

Eventually, by 1912, de Forest began to have many Audion tubes to amplify high-frequency radio signals to far areas. "He fed the output from the plate of one tube through a transformer to the grid of a second, the output of the second tube's plate to the grid of a third, and so forth, which thereby allowed for an enormous amplification of a signal that was originally very weak"(E. Fielding, Raymond). The more modifications the Audion had, the better its impact on radio, as the transmitting and amplification of radio signals towards farther distances grew stronger allowing telephonic distance communication to evolve.

Through the success of his invention, Lee began to create controversy around scientists and attorneys, eventually selling patents to communication firms for further development. Moreover, the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T;) installed audions to amplify voice signals all across the United States of America, changing the development of radio.

In 1921, de Forest began producing audio and recordings for movies. He created a recording system titled "Phonofilm," which led to him starting the "De Forest Phonofilm Corporation." Although the quality of the system was mediocre, the optical recording system was shown in many theaters from 1923 to 1927. His method was put off by many film producers as they rejected his sound-on-film device, because of the evolution of film and the use of talking pictures. Ironically, producers in the past did not want to use De Forests device, because they did not believe in it, but as years passed, movies began to use De Forests method of sound recording and many are still influenced by his methods today.

Overall, Lee De Forest died with over 300 patents and has signified his spot in the history of radio and television and is one of the principal inventors of today. He allowed the ease of amplifying radio signals, coast to coast services to be created all across the world, and is credited for bringing sound to motion pictures.

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At 16, I Was Diagnosed With EDS And It Changed My Life Forever

It has changed everything.

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For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from chronic pain, injuries for seemingly no reason, and hypermobility. After 16 years of not knowing what was happening to me or why and countless trips to doctors in an effort to finally find answers, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (or EDS) is a disorder affecting the collagen in your body causing it to be looser and more fragile than that of people without the genetic marker. Though it has been a few years since I was diagnosed and I have had plenty of time to adjust to life with a diagnosis, the things that most people don't know are still present in both my life and others who suffer from invisible illness.

Imagine this: it's 9 a.m., your alarm has just gone off and the sun is peeking through your window. Everything seems fine... until you stand up, that is. The moment your feet hit the floor you're overtaken with dizziness and pain, a feeling most people will never experience. That's what waking up with an invisible illness is like, not to say waking up is an easy task for everyone, but something so simple can truly take so much out of you when your body is working against you.

Now, despite such an unpleasant first feeling, life still happens around us. We drag ourselves out of bed and get ready for the day, pushing through the pain just to get through work or school. We still strive to be the best that we can be and will do as much as we can to accomplish that, we just have a few extra barriers blocking our paths.

Explaining invisible illness to those who don't understand is nearly as difficult as getting through the day. If I had a quarter for every time I've heard the words "But you don't look sick." after telling somebody I am, I would be rich. Illness does not have to be externally visible to be present, and that is the most important thing to recognize.

Often times, it takes multiple explanations, Google searches for visuals and trying to make your illness physically obvious for people to understand that you truly mean it when you say you can't carry that box of stuff for work or sit in the front of the room. Having to explain what you're feeling over and over again without success can be pretty taxing and sometimes even invalidating.

Something many people with invisible or chronic illness have taken to using as a metaphor for what life is like for us is the Spoon Theory. The easiest way to explain this theory is to imagine that every day you are given 12 spoons (less if you've been sick or have forgotten to take your medication) and for every activity you participate in, you have to turn in a given amount of spoons. Something simple, like brushing your teeth, would cost one spoon. The harder or more involved the task, the more spoons you have to give up. This theory is a perfect representation of life with chronic/invisible illness and truly helps those around us to understand what we feel daily.

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