Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trip To See The Farnsworth Invention

Many of you have expressed interest in attending The Farnsworth Invention on Broadway, which has received much better reviews from the audience than many of the critics, who sometimes seem offended that a Hollywood luminary has returned to the Great White Way. Nonetheless, popular theatrical productions on the process and ambition of high-technology innovation, no matter how technically askew, are few and far between, and Hank Azaria has made the character and drive of David Sarnoff his own. West Windsor Community Education has organized a bus trip to The Farnsworth Invention matinee on Saturday, March 29. Those of you in-state who haven't seen it can get the details on page 25 of the PDF at

Fill out and return the form, or call Diane at 609-716-5000 x5034 to reserve your tickets--only 49 are available, so it would be wise to act quickly. David Sarnoff Library executive director Dr. Alexander Magoun will be attending a second time, in follow-up to this Friday's performance.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Looking back while Looking Ahead

We've just concluded an amazing week: four days of field trips for 200 third graders, and another jam-packed open house on Saturday. If the engagement of the children from Dutch Neck Elementary School is any indication, the American prospect is brighter than we think. They took in Alex Magoun's illustrated talk on David Sarnoff's immigrant experience, they collected data in a wide-ranging scavenger hunt in the museum under Sharon Chapman and Vrinda Kaimal's guidance, and they mastered the concepts of sound waves, propagation, and reproduction in some cool interactive programs run by Alex and musician Samantha Chapman. Several of them returned Saturday, parents literally in tow, to see and hear thereminist Kip Rosser and the electronic musicians of Brainstatik.

We'd like to thank all of the above, plus those who helped behind the scenes: Jeff Grabel for organizing this enlarged sequel to last spring's pilot trip; Dutch Neck principal Scott Feder; Carolann Churins, Sarnoff Corporation vice president for adminstration; educational consultant Jane Eilbacher; Forrest Bradbury of Princeton University, and Mike Bunting, Mike Kane, Dennis McClary, and Fred Vannozzi of Sarnoff Corporation for more technical support than you can imagine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Speaking of Electronic Music. . .

Our most recent email newsletter touting this Saturday's open house brought us a response from RCA Labs color TV pioneer, digital TV pioneer, and author Dick Webb, a fine IEEE Fellow who sent us a link that "just appeared last week and does the best job so far to demonstrate the virtual organ idea." Visit, download the Miditzer Style 216 version 0.881 (!), and see and hear for yourself! If you're already familiar with midi digital music techniques, the virtual organ promises to expand your capabilities and horizons significantly. What would the church fathers of Halberstadt, Germany, site of the first known permanent organ in 1361, much 3rd century BCE inventor Ctesibius of Alexandria think? Probably high fives on the keyboard!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Remember The Open House on Saturday!

As posted below, on Saturday, January 19th between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm we will be hosting an Open House at the David Sarnoff Library. Dr. Alexander Magoun will be offering guided tours of the library's exhibits at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00; thereminist Kip Rosser and Brainstatik will be providing musical entertainment; and the New Jersey Antique Radio Club will host a radio repair clinic.

Admission to the open house is free, although donations to support the library are always gladly accepted. Directions to the library can be found here.

We hope to see many Friends of the Library on Saturday, as well as some of the charming Dutch Neck Elementary School third graders who have been visiting the library this week on field trips. And, of course, we always hope to welcome first-time guests and other returning visitors who want to see just what all of the fuss is about.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Radio Merit Badge Day at the David Sarnoff Library

We just qualified 55 Boy Scouts from all over the Central New Jersey Council for their radio merit badges today! The David Sarnoff Library, with the generous support of Sarnoff Corporation, hosts this wonderful event on the first Saturday of every January because it can provide the space for the Boy Scout leaders and their amateur radio volunteers to set up four work stations and four radio stations, as well as two or even three classrooms for the scouts to work through the requirements of the radio merit badge. In four years, over 250 scouts have qualified, and many of them have pursued their amateur radio operator's licenses as well.
First the staff had to set up their posts, like this one on the Library patio, bright and early in the morning.

Then the scouts and their parents have to appear and sign in, and when they've gathered in the auditorium, organizer Gary Wilson, K2GW, welcomes them and explains the day's schedule. The Library's executive director, Alex Magoun, introduces the crowd to David Sarnoff's amazing career in radio, starting as an office boy and wireless operator and ending as a seer of our internetworked wireless world in the 21st century.

With that story fresh in their minds, the scouts make their appointed rounds: to the Lounge,the patio, the office suite, and the museum, among others.

At the end of the day, the scouts gathered again in the Auditorium to receive their certificates (the badges are in the mail). But they received far more than they bargained for, because Princeton University's Dr. Joe Taylor, K1JT and Nobel Laureate, dropped by to explain how his radio hobby and experiments as a child got him started on a wonderfully fulfilling career in physics and radio astronomy, in which he and fellow Nobel Laureate Dr. Russell Hulse discovered the first binary pulsar. O, the places you can go in wireless!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Library Open House and Repair Clinic

Happy 2008, everyone, as the David Sarnoff Library prepares for an even bigger and better year of education on innovation, based on RCA's amazing legacy! Save the date of Saturday, January 19, from 10 am to 4 pm, as the Library opens its doors once again to a variety of wonderful indoor activities.

Have you seen or heard about Aaron Sorkin's Broadway hit, The Farnsworth Invention, and want to know more? RCA and television historian Dr. Alex Magoun will offer guided tours of the Library's exhibits on the hour at 10 and 11 am and 1, 2, and 3 pm. See and hear the incredible stories behind David Sarnoff's amazing life, and the remarkable inventors at RCA who brought you everything from microchip computers to color TV!

This year we're bringing back electronic music through the kind services of Kip Rosser, master thereminist, and Brainstatik, one of the groups who blew audiences away at our Electromusic Chamber Concert last December! Kip engages and enthralls young and old with the amazing electronic instrument that plays music through handwaving. Kip's Theremin Feast in the David Sarnoff Dining Room will offer menus with everything from appetizers (the history of the theremin divided up into story tidbits) to Classical Entrees (classical music) to Romantic Suppers for Two (jazz songs with a romance theme) to a Beatles Buffet(self-explanatory) and more. There will be a total of about 50 songs and pieces on the menu. Kip will explain and play the theremin in the David Sarnoff Dining Room between 10 am and 1 pm, offering visitors a chance to play for themselves.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, Brainstatik's musicians and technicians use a variety of synthesizers to replicate and embellish the sounds made by keyboard, reed, string, and percussion instruments, all to a shifting and synchronized background of light and video. while Brainstatik with take the auditorium stage from 2 to 4 pm. What better way to unwind after a hard week or day?

Finally, if you've an old, or old, old radio, make an appointment for the New Jersey Antique Radio Club's repair clinic. If its experts can't fix it for you in an hour, they can surely tell all about where and when it was made--for free! Contact Phil Vourtsis at to make an appointment; be ready to have the make and model number of your tabletop or console treasure.

The Library doesn't charge admission but suggests a $5 donation per person if you enjoyed your visit.

Need directions? Use 201 Washington Road, 08540 on your favorite internet map and follow the signs at Sarnoff Corporation's entrance to the non-profit Library.