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David Sarnoff

Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
David Sarnoff, 27 Feb 1891 - 12 Dec 1971
Gelatin silver print
Image: 32.9 × 26 cm (12 15/16 × 10 1/4")
Sheet: 42.5 × 45.4 cm (16 3/4 × 17 7/8")
Mount: 48.4 × 40.6 cm (19 1/16 × 16")
Mat (Karsh exhibit): 71.1 × 55.9 cm (28 × 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh
Object number
David Sarnoff: European\Russian
Exhibition Label
Broadcasting industry leader David Sarnoff learned Morse code when he was fifteen and later became an operator with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America. In April 1912, while managing a Marconi station in New York City, Sarnoff received telegraphed reports of the Titanic’s sinking and broke the news to the press. Appointed general manager of the newly formed Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1921, he convinced the company to develop and manufacture a “radio music box” for home use. Sales of RCA radios reached $83.5 million in 1924, and two years later Sarnoff launched the National Broadcasting Company (NBC)—the first nationwide radio network. An early believer in the feasibility of broadcasting images as well as sound, he committed RCA to developing this technology. At the opening of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Sarnoff—now RCA’s president—ushered in the television era with the first public demonstration of the new medium.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection