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date: 14 July 2020

Sarnoff, David locked

  • Thomas Lewis


(b Uzlian, province of Minsk, Russia, Feb 27, 1891; d New York, NY, Dec 12, 1971). Broadcasting executive of Russian birth. The son of a housepainter and a seamstress, Sarnoff immigrated to the United States with his mother and brothers in 1900. The family joined their father in a tenement on New York City’s Lower East Side. Within days of his arrival Sarnoff worked in communications, selling newspapers, delivering telegraph cables, and then serving as an office boy, telegraph operator, and chief inspector for the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. After World War I, the Marconi Company pooled its radio patents with those from ATT, Westinghouse, General Electric, and others to form the Radio Corporation of America. Sarnoff became commercial manager and eventually president, CEO, and chairman of the board. At RCA Sarnoff made four significant contributions to music production and consumption in the 20th century: a proposal for a “radio music box”; the creation of the National Broadcasting Company; the acquisition of the Victor Talking Machine Company; and the creation of the NBC Symphony Orchestra....

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