Lee DE Forest.org


From a very early age Lee de Forest wanted to be an inventor. He read, he experimented, and he created mechanical and electrical devices. Young Lee wanted a life of science. He read about and admired inventors and their work. His father wanted him to be a minister.

De Forest attended Mt Hermon Preparatory School prior to his expected enrollment in the Yale Divinity School. He wrote a letter to his Father: “I intend to be a machinist and inventor, because I have great talents in that direction. In this I think you will agree with me. If this be so, why not allow me to so study as to best prepare myself for that profession? In doing this it would be much better to prepare myself for and take the Sheffield Scientific course.” It was already pre-determined that he would be able attend Yale because of the David de Forest scholarship bequest for family. Much to the chagrin of his father, the Yale Scientific School rather than the Yale Divinity School will be young Lee’s chosen destination. In a postscript to his mother he wrote: “Dear Mama, the only footprints I will leave will be my inventions. I had better take the scientific course. Don’t you think?” He father reluctantly agreed.


Born to Invent

Lock of Hair

2 years Old

Above, the de Forest

family home

in Iowa

Photos from the

Perham de Forest

Collection, History

San Jose

Lee de Forest, 1873-1961, was an inventor and scholar who made significant contributions to the science of electronic communications during the first three decades of the Twentieth Century. He held numerous patents on the technology of radio, television and film.

Nineteenth Century Technology: Edison Phonograph, Telegraph Key & Sounder. Before Lee de Forest, there was acoustical recording and wired communication

Upper left, Anna de Forest poses with photo of son Lee

Order now from Amazon.com, "Lee de Forest, King of Radio, Television, and Film" by Mike Adams

Have a question about Lee de Forest? Email the creator of this site, Mike Adams | Contact Jim Reed at History San Jose about the de Forest papers