(born Feb. 27, 1891, Minsk, Russia—died Dec. 12, 1971, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Russian-born U.S. communications executive. After immigrating with his family to New York in 1900, he left school to work for the Marconi telegraph company. In 1912 he heard the distress signal from the sinking Titanic
and remained at his instrument for 72 hours relaying news. In 1921 he became general manager of the newly formed Radio Corp. of America (RCA Corp.
). He had proposed the first commercially marketed radio receiver in 1916, and by 1924 it had earned $80 million in sales. He formed the radio network NBC
in 1926. Perceiving television's potential, he set up an experimental television station (1928) and demonstrated the new medium at the New York World's Fair (1939). During World War II he was a communications consultant to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
and was made a brigadier general. President of RCA (1930–47), he served as chairman of the board until 1970.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.