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Lesson #1: “The human brain must continue to frame the problems for the electronic machine to solve.”
Speaking of the TV during its first live broadcast in 1939, Sarnoff proudly said, "This miracle of engineering skill which one day will bring the world to the home also brings a new American industry to serve man's material welfare...Now we add sight to sound."
It is those engineering skills - and Sarnoff's never-ending quest to push the boundaries of science - that created one of the world's most innovative companies. Sarnoff put invention coupled with innovation at the heart of his business. He strove to always create something completely new, and then put those new ideas into valuable action.
On that day in 1939, the U.S. was in the midst of a crisis. The Great Depression had just come to an end, and a second World War was looming. Sarnoff used the situation to his advantage, giving the world a look at not only new worlds, but a new life.
It was Sarnoff's stubborn pursuit of new technologies that not only turned RCA into a global force to be reckoned with in less than ten years, but revolutionized the world as he knew it. His belief in the combination of science with business led him to create both the radio and television, and to successfully predict their development paths. For instance, Sarnoff knew that the black-and-white TV would be only a temporary phenomenon until the colour TV could be invented. Similarly, he even predicted the invention of the VCR.
"Freedom is the oxygen without which science cannot breathe," Sarnoff once said. "I have learned to have more faith in the scientist than he does himself."
Sarnoff had an unflagging faith in science and technology, believing it to be the key to world peace, unmatched prosperity, and increased leisure time. In addition to the radio and TV, Sarnoff had begun to imagine a future with biotechnology, push-button weather control, aquaculture, nuclear reactors for the home, and the computer.
It was Sarnoff's relentless quest for something new that made him work into his seventies, push RCA and its engineers to their limits, and invest money and work hours into new and untested technologies.
Still, Sarnoff's ambition could always still be tempered by reason. As much as Sarnoff liked to push to expand the brand into new territories, he never permitted the company to introduce a new product without fully knowing how to build it, and what could come next. For instance, while his competitors were busy pushing out expensive colour TV sets, Sarnoff did not allow RCA to sell colour TV sets until the engineers could easily mesh them with black and white signals.
By investing in and pushing the boundaries of science and technology, Sarnoff made sure his company remained at the forefront of everything new.
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