The Fusor Reactor of Dr. Philo T. Farnsworth

Farnsworth-Fusor-main-4-postby Gerry Vassilatos

The father of electronic television, Dr. Philo T. Farnsworth, found the practical key toward achieving hot fusion. He demonstrated his hot fusion reactor before several highly qualified groups of analysts. They saw the system in operation and yet testify that it really worked.

In a brief biographic sketch, it must be recalled that Dr. Farnsworth is the true father of electronic television. He is one of the most conspicuously disregarded inventors of the Twentieth Century. In 1927, the young high school student received the entire working design for the electronic television system in a single insightful ray. Scrawled out on a scrap of notepaper and saved by his high school physics teacher, the very drawing became the document which sealed his name in later court proceedings.

His patents are remarkably advanced for their time. His ability to design electron tubes of extraordinary form allowed him to create incredibly new electronic components yet used by the military. No precedent had been set for electronic television. The system parts had to be invented. Proper design of the electronic television system required that every piece, every tube, every component be researched, tested, and implemented. In a rapid deployment of new designs, Dr. Farnsworth and his dedicated group of researchers designed, built, and implemented each part. During this arduous process, they learned how to manage the very production of their own parts, the television industry having developed among their members. This later enabled a small factory to be established for the manufacture of the various Farnsworth television systems.

At the time, no corporate enterprise was able to summon the genius in producing an adequate television system. Even R.C.A. relied on the old mechanical television systems as a primary base for developing a new system. These mechanical sets were the sparkling, whirling, multi-mirrored twirling wonders of an earlier Victorian time. Baird, Rosing, Jenkins, and other names come to mind when recalling those quaint and inspiring working designs. Others had brought mechanical television to its point of perfection. But the mechanical televisions, while being the perfection and wonder of their day, were little more than “flicker windows”, producing vague and blurry shadows. Something utterly new was needed, some fresh departure into a new age of real television. That new departure was already patented and operational in Farnsworth’s laboratories.

After several years and fortunes in failed attempts, RCA was forced to duplicate the results which Farnsworth had developed. Ultimately they had to use the Farnsworth System as their chief model from which to …”glean” their own components. They used Dr. Vladimir Zworykin to achieve this theft. Zworykin’s legendary “photographic mind” was employed, through his numerous “visits” to the Farnsworth Research Laboratories, to permit the complete re-design of every Farnsworth component under the R.C.A. crest. David Sarnoff was thereafter able to issue Zworykin’s patents for a television system without paying Dr. Farnsworth a single penny or a word of gratitude.

Nevertheless, the dream belonged to Dr. Farnsworth. Image dissectors, pulse transmitters, synchronizing oscillators, synchronous scanning, image analyzers, receivers, and special cathode ray tubes: Farnsworth conceived, designed, and hand-built each of them with his research team in 1926. Examination of the Farnsworth patents reveals nothing but novel tube designs which remain without contemporary equal. Dr. Farnsworth developed numerous unusual tubes to make his television oscillators, receivers, and transmitters more efficient. No existing technology could match the performance characteristics of his UHF oscillators, electron multipliers, and cold cathode signal amplifier tubes.

Notable among these designs were cold cathode vacuum tubes, some of which employed soft radioactive materials to achieve unheard electronic performances. He developed photomultipliers, multipactors, Infrared imaging tubes, image storage tubes, and image amplifiers. Military night-vision is a Farnsworth invention. ITT makes billions of dollars from this single Farnsworth patent.


Throughout World War II, Dr. Farnsworth continued to explore new electronic alternatives, designing radically new species of electron tubes which became as famous as his earlier development of electronic television. The development of his “multipactor tube” was one such departure from convention. In this strange “cold” tube species, a photoelectric multiplying process saturates the vacuum with electrons. The simple application of a small direct current results in such an efficient avalanche of electronic charge that the tube bordered on “complete” efficiency. This meant that the input energy completely equalled the output energy, a condition not known in vacuum tube technology.

philo-farnsworth in labThe multipactor tubes use opposed concave electrodes. In effect, they are concave electrostatic mirrors. These mirrors focus the ionized gases into tight little points, just as mirrors concentrate light. The concave mirrors permitted the re-discovery of electron optics; a phenomenon originally witnessed by Sir William Crookes in 1890 and “overlooked”.

Dr. Farnsworth designed a great number of different multipactor tubes. His patent collection is enormous. Dr. Farnsworth noted very anomalous phenomena in several of his multipactor tubes. These included sharp energy surges on the output stages which seemingly appeared “from nowhere”. The possibility is strong that he discovered an entirely new kind of energy source, having nothing to do with hot fusion. It has been suggested that these surges were of cosmic origin.

While testing his high power UHF multipactor tubes in 1935, Farnsworth discovered a strange phenomenon which caught his curiosity. Suspended in the tube center, he sighted a tiny brilliant blue starlike point. The little starlike point of light became more brilliant with increasing application of voltage. The little starlike points never touched the walls of the container, remaining fixed in the space where first sighted. Farnsworth recognized this feature as a control characteristic which might somehow be employed in the future.

Farnsworth multipactor tubes can be small enough to be hand-held. The larger models are the size and volume of a thermos bottle. Used as UHF oscillators, they produce enormous outputs of power. The optically focussed little stars are instantly formed within the multipactor tube, exhibiting all the control-response characteristics later sought desperately by hot fusion reactor designers.

Farnsworth realized that hot ionized gases could be bound into these small starlike points, their rare stability managing any applied power load. The little stars could absorb and hold tremendous amounts of applied energy, an aspect which deeply impressed Dr. Farnsworth. His original notion was to utilize the principle in high power UHF transmitter tubes. For metallurgical purposes Farnsworth thought the process would have industrial applications. The star points could be directed into any material surface. Melting tiny holes in metals would be no problem for the intense freely floating little ionic star. Soon his mind turned toward nuclear energy. The starlike “plasmoids” could be loaded with any amount of electrical power and be maintained away from the container walls. They were stable, could absorb fresh gas and electrical power with theoretically no limit to the attainable temperatures. The notion of using the principle to construct a nuclear furnace deeply intrigued him.


Thermonuclear energy was used in the hydrogen bomb technology. The scientific community was astir with talk of hydrogen energy. Farnsworth also studied the problem of controlled thermonuclear energy. The gaseous temperatures had to be immensely high, and safely contained. By as early as 1953 he had conceived of a means for Farnsworth-with-the-Fusor-4-postusing the star like phenomenon to produce controlled nuclear hot fusion reactions. He published his theoretical research on usable hot fusion energy.

In 1959 H.S. Geneen (Raytheon) invited Dr. Farnsworth to address the ITT board of directors on controlled nuclear hot fusion. It was against the verbalized misgivings of the AEC that this lecture was presented. Farnsworth was then formally approached by ITT after announcing his plans to investigate hot fusion reactions. Farnsworth designed a new and dramatically original tube which he named “The Fusor”. In this new tube, the starlike plasmoids of deuterium were isolated, shaped, confined, treated, balanced, and moved absolutely without the need for magnetic confinement. He conducted the first tests in his own home laboratory space, the deuterium tanks and electrical cables running throughout the living room to the cellar. Shortly thereafter, preliminary tests on the first Farnsworth “Fusor” was performed in a small ITT basement laboratory. His first design for a hot fusion reactor system was realized late in 1958. ITT monitored all the research and brought its own supervisors into Farnsworth’s team.

The “Fusor” is a device which produces controllable hot fusion reactions and does not utilize magnetic confinement. The design is a radical departure from all the designs of its time, a simple optical electronic system. The Fusor is no larger than a softball. In its center is the electron-radiating cathode. This cathode is surrounded by a spherical anode. A group of deuterium guns are symmetrically mounted about the anode ball. Their beam axes face each other and intersect at the tube center, firing ionized fuel into the reactive focus. It is perhaps the most advanced electron power tube ever designed.

farnsworth fusor diagramDeuterium gas particles are propelled and focussed into the center of the tube, establishing the star-like plasma at the focus. Magnets are never needed to contain the gas. Nuclei which are trapped in the starpoint can never escape the focus. They are maintained in place by their own inertia and the incoming barrage. Deuterium nuclei are literally hammered into the required density in the central region by the process of “inertial containment”, a term which Farnsworth first coined. Potentially escaping nuclei are stopped by layers of surrounding charge until they are forced back into their center point.

Ionic shells are held in the vise-like grip of applied power. Confinement power can be poured into this center almost indefinitely because the trapped nuclei cannot escape the field energy. Nuclei which “fall” into the centermost virtual electrode have fusion energies, and are contained at a density sufficient to produce controlled fusion reactions. With sufficiently high power applications, the hot fusion reaction can be sustained and controlled at will in the Fusor. Dr. Farnsworth worked out an elegant means for extracting the energies of fusion, energies which remain electronic in their nature. Developed fusion energy produces an electronic pressure blast against the applied energy field. This experimentally appeared as a dramatic back-surge in power. This electrical blast may be directly harnessed and used in external loads.

Even as stars govern their own output by expanding and reducing plasma density, the little stars were found to be remarkably resilient and resistive to instabilities. In fact, the only instabilities seen in the Fusor were those which came from the outside. Tube external power instabilities required new safety systems to be developed. Maintaining the constancy of application required “pure” electrical inputs.

FusorTeamMagnetic containment never reached this degree of success. Farnsworth’s system was compact, simple, elegant, and inexpensive. He solved the particle confinement and energy conversion problems in one simple design. On October 8, 1960, the Mark I Fusor produced a steady-state neutron count when deuterium was admitted into the device with very low power application. This meant that fusion was happening. What Farnsworth sought in these first tests lay in the control of fusion reactions under increasing power application. The self-sustaining reaction would be gradually approached in steps.

Farnsworth established and charted increasing neutron counts with increasing application of electrostatic power. His methodic experimental method was necessary in the uncharted fusion territory. He repeatedly tackled the possibility of a “runaway” reaction, designing newer electron restraining guns to prevent this horror. It is suggested that the reader obtain and study copies of the Fusor patent for further understanding of this design aspect.


Farnsworth had to learn the operating parameters of a practical fusion reactor. Being a brilliant mathematician, his theoretical work was published along with the design patents. He established several criteria for testing the reality of achieving nuclear fusion in his system. The entire assembly was submerged in oil and was confined behind thick lead-concrete walls. The experiment took on a decidedly ominous tone after this procedure reconfigured the system. The entire Fusor reactor occupied the volume of a very small lecture hall. This volume included the power sources, tanks, shields, and monitoring devices. It was a rare miniature in the fusion art.

Dr. Farnsworth measured neutrons as an indicator of the fusion reaction occurring within the sphere. With deuterium gas in the Mark II-Model 2 Fusor a count exceeding 50 Mega neutrons per second was recorded. This device eventually produced 1.3 Giga neutrons per second in a sustained reaction for more than one minute. These reactions were stable, completely under the operator’s control, and could be duplicated on command.

Fusor-circa-1963-4-postOn October 5, 1965 the Fusor Mark II-Model 6 was tested. A reconfigured, high precision ion gun arrangement produced I Giga neutrons per second, a world-record in the art. On December 28, 1965 tritium was admitted into the test chamber, producing 2.6 Giga neutrons per second. Higher voltages produced greater neutron counts. With a mixture of tritium and deuterium Dr. Farnsworth’s team measured and recorded 6.2 Giga neutrons per second. The Mark III Fusor produced startling high records in quick succession. By the end of 1965 the team was routinely measuring 15.5 Giga neutrons per second. It must be remembered that this Fusor was yet the size of a softball. A Fusor having a diameter of just one meter would permit greater ignition power for a smaller time period, while multiplying its output power volumetrically. A Fusor could be built to any size as power was required. Dr. Farnsworth reported that his team achieved a self-sustaining reaction on several occasions, and could repeat the effect. The thunderous vibrations of the Fusor are well reported by those who worked with Farnsworth. Many laboratory workers saw the brilliant white light of the Fusor in its early test runs…right through the metallic shielding!

Dr. Farnsworth once invited a few individuals to watch a test-run of this feat one evening. As power was applied to the Fusor the neutron-reading meter achieved a steady threshold and there remained. Only a slight additional increment of power was applied. Then the needle went off the scale and stayed fixed. The room thundered. The light released behind the shield would have instantly and permanently blinded anyone. Although the ignition power was completely removed, the needle remained off-scale in excess of thirty seconds as the fusion reaction sustained itself. Controlled self-sustaining nuclear fusion of tritium nuclei was historically achieved in 1965.

Success had come. The patent record shows that Farnsworth finally achieved that goal in 1965. The upscaled Mark IV would have completely cornered the electric utility market for ITT. Large Fusor systems could be set up everywhere. The Fusor System proved successful throughout its forgotten seven year research history. The establishment of Fusor power stations would have been more than cost-effective for ITT. It would have made them trillions the world over. Fusor reactors were simple to build, maintain, and operate. Dr. Farnsworth and his team had computed each company cost to the penny! Therefore, who called ITT to stop production?


With the announcement of these final achievements, Farnsworth was met by a totally unexpected and contradictory turn of events. ITT had been gradually absorbing the entire Fusor project throughout the few record-making years. All related patents were assigned to ITT even as Dr. Farnsworth’s achievements arrived in successive steps. Suddenly ITT was “not interested” in the Fusor System.

It is both curious and contradictory that, while steady progress was being achieved at minimal cost, ITT was already planning to drop the Fusor project completely. Influenced by powerful professionally hired “lobbyists”, executive board members were urging the eradication of the project. During this strange time, certain Wall Street analysts were publishing their “concerns” for ITT and its absorption of the Farnsworth subsidiary as a “terrible mistake”. Farnsworth himself was made the direct focus of every corporate death-word thereafter. Hired to assassinate the project and the project leader by yet unknown outside agencies, ITT folded up like wet cardboard under the pressure.

This complete contradiction is all too conspicuous, a familiar pattern in American technology. Outlandish accusations against ITT remain in the indelible historic record. Newspapers from the time period, journals, and other publications show the campaign. Nevertheless, and equally indelible, are the patents and periodical records which Farnsworth has left to us on controlled fusion. Who had “spoken” to ITT, dissuading them from further development of the Fusor reactor? The AEC was mounting the uranium fission race and the “anti-fusion” race simultaneously, using every tactic to achieve total dominance of the energy field.

A large reception at the Waldorf was astir with executive unrest concerning the Farnsworth research project. While dressing for the dinner that evening, Farnsworth suffered a stroke. He was thereafter suddenly “relieved” of his research project, now on the basis of his “now failing health”. Furthermore, ITT formally and publicly announced that the Fusor project was “a failure …a dead-end”. Dr. Farnsworth suffered another stroke on a plane ride back home.


During his long recuperative period Farnsworth decided that the Fusor should be privately developed to its complete perfection. After all, the Fusor was Farnsworth’s own creation, why should he not pursue the course alone? Dr. Farnsworth tried to obtain his patents back from ITT. Considering their public announcement of his “dead-end” he believed they would be more than happy to sell him back the “wasted” patents. Since the Fusor was “a miserable failure” it would be he (not they) who be taking the loss by buying back what was considered worthless on the academic market.

He therefore contacted ITT and honestly announced his hopeful intentions. The answer came with quick, cold, and ready calculation, negative and impersonal. Under no circumstances would they ever release to him the right to pursue the Fusor project. Moreover, ITT legally warned Farnsworth that it would dominate all of his own private Fusor research forever, despite its “infeasibility”. ITT cut all formal financial ties with Farnsworth and left him virtually bankrupt in 1966. Several Farnsworth patents yet maintain the entire ITT operation to this very day. In quick, methodically accurate legal moves, ITT asserted its complete ownership of all Fusor applications for the future. This curious response surrounds a device which is declared a “deadend”!

In July 1969 Farnsworth built a small Fusor lab in a Brigham Young University cellar room. With privately purchased equipment he continued his research with generous University support. Suddenly, however, creditors began crowding him on every side. Furthermore, it was impossible to obtain the necessary fuel materials. Deuterium and tritium gases were already regulated by legal means, and he was barred from purchase. During this time an offer came to him from SONY. By now he was unable to continue. Physically ill and emotionally scarred from his dealings with both RCA and ITT, he died in 1971. ITT sent nothing to his poor widow.


There are those noble individuals in whose hearts ride the dreams of whole societies and futures. Most younger academicians will not even recall Farnsworth’s project. These individuals will usually protest that such a claim is not “scientifically possible”. They arrogantly base their confident refutation on the vacuum of the critical piece of information: the Patent Record itself. Such scientifically biased refutations are patterned personality reactions, based on incomplete knowledge. Only suspicion best explains the cavalier manner in which the term “pseudo-scientific” has been flung about in the academic-industrial world these days. It is indeed marvelous that the phrase makes its appearance, after, always after a threatening scientific achievement has been scored by private researchers.

There are deeply entwined reasons why few have ever heard of Dr. Farnsworth’s Fusor System. These reasons exceed the modern academic censure of this possibility. ITT now holds the Farnsworth patents, and bears the social debt of responsibility for suppressing Fusor Technology. ITT will not release them to public domain for licensing. ITT maintains this stance despite the twenty year statute of limitations normally granted to United States Patents. Since 1982, the patents should have been fair game. ITT yet conspicuously withholds the rights of all privateers from formally developing and marketing the Fusor device. This is indeed an awkward poise for a device which is “a miserable failure”.

What threatens traditional financial dynasties more than a new discovery? Regulating what discoveries are “permissible” precedes what regulators decide is “allowable knowledge”. In other words, the control of discovery precedes the control of knowledge. The control of knowledge precedes the control of awareness. And the control of awareness prevents new discovery on behalf of those whose financial interests are potentially threatened at any moment.

Fundamental natural discovery is the force around which corporations scurry, fearing the often violent social and economic changes which have historically followed the appearance of new discovery. To be ignorant of fundamental scientific discoveries is to be ignorant of both the present world condition and the future world-direction. Fundamental revolutionary technology represents a complete elevation of society into a new consciousness and world-condition. Fundamental revolutionary technologies such as Dr. Farnsworth’s Fusor have been deliberately suppressed. We do not know with certainty the actual depth and extent by which the commands of suppression are dispatched. We do not know how far government agencies are involved in this process of suppressions. What we do know for certain is that a degenerate technology, a distorted and synthetic fragment of lost science, now guides the course of world history.

Technological revolution is real revolution. It is that which the dynasties most dread. Deferring potential technological revolutions infers control at the fundamental level: at the patent Office, at the market place, in the very courts of government. Deferred technology maintains the financial stability of a few “old families” at the expense of humanity at large. Science, the servant of providence and humanity, has lost its first love. It has lost its way because its ways were deranged by excessive and unwarranted financial involvements.

But, where is the knowledge of lost technology? Where does this knowledge reside? How does the knowledge surface? Who are the ones through whom the lost information is socially regained, proliferated, and acquired? Look in the patent archives. You will find them all safely, and legally, preserved. Hot fusion was achieved, scrutinized, judged, condemned, assassinated, buried, and censured. It is an episode which is now “forbidden” to mention. It is remarkable that individuals in the fusion research teams across the world are even aware that their goal was realistically attained in 1965. Thirty years ago.

Among the incredibly prolific patents of Dr. Farnsworth remain two working designs for achieving practical nuclear fusion: patents 3.258.402 and 3.386.883 as found in the Registry. The patents themselves are textbook lessons in the fusion art. The designs of the device which attained sustained fusion is elegantly simple and can be examined. Such technological options, as global property, must be cultivated among disadvantaged nations. New technologies must never again die on Puritanic shores before visiting the other shores which lie beyond these national gates.

One remarkable property of natural discoveries is the incessant manner in which they appear. Discoveries appear before social crisis requires their development. Discoveries represent providential manifestations of grace. They must be honored as such, comprehended as messages against some desperate future hour. Discoveries are not restricted to specific locales. No single nation rules the flow and dispersion of natural discoveries. Those who seek the eradication of discoveries throughout the world will be destroyed. The consequences of eradicating technologies have a mysterious way of finding us out, by their deadly absence. In the hour of need, they keep their silence.

In truth, the vision which is carved in stone cannot be ruined. There it remains. Let those who study and devise their twisting way plot. Plan, scheme, bend, and turn. None will stop the day. The bright sapphire, a pure night vision, remains. Starpoints in the great radiant blackness, from which come all things. The dream seas surge, asking no permissions and giving gifts liberally. In a land not far off, where dreams and dreamers walk as one, there the love reigns and waits.

Excerpt from Lost Science

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