being a festive occasion and a happy event, I do not wish to begin by
reciting, in obituary form, the good deeds of our hero—Dr.
Zworykin. I should like to reverse the process and tell some of the bad
things about him. But, you have no idea what difficulties I have met
all through the week trying to find somebody who would tell me
something bad about him. Those who know, won't talk; and those who
talk, don't know.
I appealed to his good wife to see what I could elicit from her,
knowing full well that legally a wife's testimony is incompetent and
course,' replied Mrs. Zworykin, 'he's human, he's not perfect; but,
doesn't help a great deal in my search.
know what Mark Twain said when he was once asked about a certain man.
He said, 'Well, he's a member of the human race, and nothing worse can
be said about anyone.'
not going to recite the record of Dr. Zworykin's accomplishments in the
field of science and technology. Those who are associated with him know
all that I know and more. Those who are not associated with him will
have read about his achievements in the various journals, periodicals,
and newspapers. And some of you heard about his work more
specifically during the symposium which took place today at Princeton
should like to say a few words about my friend and colleague, Vladimir
Zworykin, as a man and as a scientist. (p. 117)
a man, I would characterize him first, as a dreamer—but a
dreamer who dreams of practical things. The more I have lived in the
world of science and technology, the more I have become convinced that
the really practical men in this field are the dreamers. They have to
dream first before reality can translate their dreams into practical
results. Dr. Zworykin is that kind of a dreamer. After all, dreaming
about television and the electron microscope and about
instrumentalities of that nature, calls for more than dreaming in a
Oh yes! He's the greatest salesman I have ever known. In fact, there
have been slack times when we thought of putting Zworykin on the
selling staff to help bring in a few more dollars.
have told this story before, but perhaps those who have heard it won't
mind the repetition. Twenty-seven or twenty-eight years
ago—when I first met this young man Vladimir Zworykin who
spoke then with about the same accent he has today, he told me about a
cathode-ray tube that he envisaged, what it could do in television, and
the great hope he had for it. About that time, technicians were having
a "little difference" of view—a difference about a mechanical
and electronic method of doing the television job. Then, the argument
was about black-and-white television. But, you will recall, the same
little difference was repeated only recently but, more loudly, in color
television. And the final decision, in both cases, was the same. The
electronic method prevailed.
confess that I understood little of Zworykin's first description of the
tube, but I was greatly impressed with the man. So, I asked him,
"Assuming all you say is so, what would it cost the Radio Corporation
of America to translate your ideas into practice? How much money would
we have to spend before we could have a practical television system?"
He took a good look at me, drew a deep breath, and answered
confidently, "I think about $100,000 would do it."
I felt a practical television system was certainly worth $100,000; so,
I fell for Zworykin's persuasiveness. How near right he was can best be
understood when I tell you that before the Radio Corporation of America
produced and sold the first commercial television receiver, we had
spent fifty million dollars! Now if that isn't good salesmanship, I ask
you, what is?
Zworykin not only dreams, he also thinks. He is a thinker who thinks
ahead of his time. Sometimes he gets into a little difficulty on that
account, and sometimes the rest of us get into a little difficulty with
him. But, we are living at a time when events are moving so rapidly
that often they move faster than men think. Therefore, I regard his
qualifications as a thinker as an asset to humanity rather
than a liability. (p. 118)
Zworykin is also a worker. And he is a worker of extraordinary
character. I have seldom heard Zworykin discuss his work of yesterday
or today. He always talks about tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.
He is genuinely interested in the job to be done than in the job that
was done. I have never found him wasting much time in discussing
achievements or accomplishments of the past. It is this dream, the
imagination, of what is ahead that always occupies his mind, that
stimulates the expression of his thoughts, and inspires those around
Zworykin has another characteristic. He is a persistent fellow. Using a
phrase of [RCA] President Frank Folsom's, 'He just doesn't brush off
easily.' You tell him no, and he will come back tomorrow, and the day
after, or the month after, and tell you the same story in a different
language, but with the same accent! You know, a girl sometimes says,
'Yes,' to a persistent guy in order to get rid of him; but, she often
finds later, that despite her doubts, she had made the right choice.
That has been our experience when we have changed our mind from 'No' to
'Yes,' and backed up Zworykin.
Zworykin the scientist: This morning at home in my library, knowing
that we would meet this evening in the rarified atmosphere of great
scientists, I indulged in a little excursion into the dictionary.
Though I have been connected with science for many years in one form or
another - at least as a fireman - I thought I would see what definition
the dictionary gives to science.
I found as many definitions of 'science' as you can find honorary
degrees and clubs in Who's Who alongside
the name of a prominent man. But the definition that struck me as the
most interesting was this one.
is accumulated and accepted knowledge which has been systematized and
formulated with references to the discovery of general truths or the
operation of general laws: knowledge classified and made available in
work, in life, or in the search for truth: comprehensive, or profound,
or philosophical knowledge.'
is the definition of science which not only appeals to me, but which I
think lays down specifications that are completely and admirably
fulfilled by our guest of honor tonight.
it is not amiss to mention at this point the circumstances which best
enable a scientist to work and to express the forces within him. For I
am sure that Dr. Zworykin and his associates—especially those
who worked with him in his earlier days across the seas—will
agree that the opportunity to express the forces with which a man may
be endowed, depends much upon his environment. These very men, with all
their genius, did not have the opportunity to express their talents in
the environment of their native land. (p. 119)
Zworykin found that opportunity in America. I think we may well reflect
upon the important contribution which freedom makes to the scientist
and the creative worker. Nowhere in the world is that freedom to be
found in such measure as it exists in America. When you add to the
genius of Zworykin, the freedom and the opportunities provided by
America, you really nourish the divine spirit and ignite the divine
spark of achievement.
was also stimulated, as I am sure he will agree, by the scientific
spirit which he found to pervade the men and women who constitute this
RCA family. For we are an organization founded upon science. We make
our living by the tiniest thing known in the world; the tiniest
particle that scientists know about—the electron. And with
that tiny electron, we are able to do big things, and to serve the
needs of mankind.
electron has lifted RCA from a small company with a humble beginning
and with very modest means, to the role of leader in a great industry.
RCA's business, alone, is approaching a billion dollars a
year. It was that scientific spirit, and the enthusiasm and cooperation
of the colleagues who have worked alongside Dr. Zworykin during the
past quarter of a century, that combined to produce the results of
which we are so proud and which we celebrate tonight.
Engstrom has referred to retirement. Sooner or later all of us reach
that technical milestone in the march of life. But I see no
relationship whatever between retirement and Vladimir Zworykin. Not
only does he continue as a consultant and as an officer of the RCA, but
in fact, he will continue to do whatever work interests him most. A
scientist like Vladimir Zworykin never retires. He does not even fade
away. What he does is to acquire more time for thought that leads to
bigger ideas, greater discoveries and more important inventions. For
when the imagination and the creative instinct of the true scientist
go, he generally goes with them—perhaps to a place of even
scientist operates upstairs. How high he reaches depends upon his
imagination. But, he never has hours and he never has mileposts. He
never has periods, or semicolons, or even commas, in his poetry. He
simply flows along like the waves of the ocean.
story was told me recently about an occasion when Dr. Zworykin was
riding to work in an automobile with several of his associates. It was
early in the morning. It was 8:00 o'clock. That hour, I suppose was
mentioned in order to impress me. They became snowbound; the automobile
was struck and could not move. Dr. Zworykin closed his eyes, reclined
and said, 'Now it is time to go to work.' That is the way he went to
work—by closing his eyes and dreaming and thinking and
planning. (p. 120)
since we are in the midst of scientists and in this home of science,
perhaps it may not be amiss to say a word or two about the relationship
of scientists to the rest of us ordinary mortals.
think there is something scientists, too, must know, and if they don't
know, they must learn it and most of all they must recognize it. One
thing that they must recognize, it seems to me, is that the physical
sciences alone are not enough to make this a better world in which to
live. Important as they are, they are not enough. There are
other aspects of life that must go hand in hand with their
achievements in science.
scientist must understand and appreciate the human problems of society
and the impact of his discoveries and inventions upon slow-moving
humanity. It is all very well for the scientist to sit back and say,
"Well, I have forged this knife for you. Whether you use it with the
skill of a surgeon and save a life, or whether you use it with the
abandon of an assassin and destroy a life is your problem, and there is
nothing I can do about it." That is not enough.
am not ready to place upon the scientist all the responsibility for
human nature. But, as a scientist must constantly seek the truth, I
plead with him to recognize the truth about humanity as well. He must
appreciate the distinctions between the particles of science and the
organisms of human beings. After all, once you have learned how an
electron, a neutron, a proton, or a meson behaves, you have learned
that in their own category, they all behave the same way. If you
organize them in the same fashion, arrange them in the same manner,
they will response in the same way.
there are no two human beings whose behavior is exactly the same. Atoms
are alike—but Adams are different. And so the statesman, the
politician, the businessman, and the executive who has to deal with
independent Adams all of the time, has not the control over his human
associates that the scientist who deals with atoms has over his
physical slaves. Therefore, each must learn to respect the
capabilities and the limitations of the other. We now live in
an Atomic and Electronic Age which creates problems for society, at a
speed much faster than the ordinary human being is able to assimilate.
of us are creatures of habit, and you know how difficult it is to
change a habit. When we talk about controlling other people,
how well do we do the job of controlling ourselves? Poorly, I think all
of us will agree. But how much more difficult it is to control 100
million or a billion people! (p. 121)
the rapid march of science and its revolutionary impact upon society,
the time has come for the scientist to appreciate the problem of the
layman and for the layman to cooperate with the scientist. Only by
working together, only by being sympathetic and cooperative with each
other's problems, only by having a regard and respect for the other man
field, can we possibly achieve the common goal.
we deal in an understanding and helpful fashion with each other, we do
not need mechanical instruments to measure our efforts. Our conscience
is our guide, and I use the word conscience advisedly. As you know, the
prefix "con" means with or together. So, when you put con in front of
science, you have the word CONSCIENCE.
Zworykin, I now have the very great pleasure to advise you, officially,
that at the last meeting of the Board of Directors of the Radio
Corporation of America, held on August 6th, 1954, a Resolution was
unanimously adopted and it reads as follows:
the occasion of the retirement of Vladimir K. Zworykin as a Vice
President of the Radio Corporation of America, the Board of Directors
has approved the following resolutions proposed by the Chairman of the
That, the Directors express their deep appreciation to Dr. Vladimir K.
Zworykin for his long and distinguished service to the
Corporation and for his pioneering accomplishments in radio,
television and electronics.
To mark the Directors' regard of the unique position which Dr. Vladimir
K. Zworykin has attained, he is hereby elected an Honorary
Vice-President of the Radio Corporation of America.'
presenting to you this handsomely engrossed Board Resolution, let me
add, Dr. Zworykin, that we have come here tonight to do you honor, to
say, 'Hello,' and not, 'Goodbye.' May you continue to dream, to think,
to work, and to be ever stimulating in the future as you have always
been in the past. (p. 122)