Fusion Message Board

In this space, visitors are invited to post any comments, questions, or skeptical observations about Philo T. Farnsworth's contributions to the field of Nuclear Fusion research.

Date: Jan 08, 5:15 pm
Poster: Richard Hull

On Jan 08, 5:15 pm, Richard Hull wrote:


I have read a lot of stuff on the fusor period at ITT. About 80% has been veiled supposition and conjecture from third fourth and fifth hand accounts. Some of the stuff is unreferenced and a lot is from conspiracy theory crazed authors feeding what I feel is an ever frustrated new energy crowd. I would never point a finger at specific personages but some of this stuff is just that. STUFF.

I just talked with Gene Meeks. (The main hands on fusor man on the ITT Farnsworth team) He had more burning fusor time than any living being on the team including Farnsworth! In the trenches with Phil from his attic setup in Farnsworths home in 1958 through the ITT period. So appreciated and dedicated to Farnsworth and the Fusor was Gene Meeks that he moved to Utah and ramroded the setup and operation of the fusor in the BYU program from 1969 to 1972 when it was shut down. No one repeat no one knows the fusor work done by Farnsworth through all periods better than Meeks.

This was my fourth interview with Meeks! I put to him, specific questions about the ITT period. First ITT was thrilled beyond comparison to have the fusor out of their operation. They cleaned out the labs with record speed after Hirsch left. (Hirsch ran the 68 budget funding into the ground as he and Meeks were there for the 6 months after Farnsworth bailed and moved to Utah from Fort Wayne to form Farnsworth associates (abortive effort). The funds ran out and Hirsch left. With only George Bain and Gene Meeks remaining, both were immediately re-assigned to other groups within the Fort Wayne operation (same building).

Thus Gene Meeks was at The Fort Wayne operation for a while following the disbaning of the fusor team. He noted the particular glee with which their old lab was ripped apart and used for some other none technical pupose. The executives loved getting ITT out of the nuclear business. ITT never, ever, secretly went on with anything other than there business!!!!

According to Meeks, ITT considered the patents a handy and viewable monument to money poorly spent. Meeks further noted that he and Farnsworth talked about obtaining the patents from ITT. He said ITT said they "weren't in the business of selling patents". PERIOD! Now lets analyize this. Suppose you are an ITT exec. who is approached about selling some of your company's patents. Yes everyone in the company thinks they are worthless. Better still, they know they are worthless. Are you going to even put one toe in harms way by unloading patents which you company owns? Suppose the unthinkable happens and these bozos use them to secure more advanced patents based on these. Or even worse, what will happen to you, the wife and kids when the ITT pres. finds out who sold those patents. Yeah, they are worthless, but the are OURS, the sun is warm and shining brightly. I have my pention plan and won't rock any boat or shake any trees, because what falls out might land on me. What would you do as an ITT exec?
Nothing rash or stupid I hope.

After about 9 months. Farnsworth, knowing the real value of a "doer" and needing the finest "lab rat" he knew, invited Gene to move to Utah to join the planned Farnsworth Associates. Also Farnsworth had secured a full time paid position for he and Meeks at BYU on the staff to startup a fusor program. Meeks left ITT and joined Farnsworth. Farnsworth was rarely on hand at BYU so Meeks and a few students assembled pieces-parts and built and operated a modest fusor. The titular department head of the BYU effort was professor Andrew Gardner. It was virtually a one man show for Meeks as Farnsworths health continued to worsen and he (Farnsworth) was often doing administrative tasks related to the new startup venture.

Farnsworth died in 1971. Meeks continued on staff until BYU folded the project about one year later.

Here was the real truth from the mouth of a living team member with actual "been there, done that" experinece without the patina of conspiracy or white wash of supposition.

The patents lapsed without ITT ever using or selling one device based on them.

Richard Hull