David Sarnoff 1891-1971

Russian-born businessman David Sarnoff was a pioneer of American commercial radio and television. Forced to support his family in New York City at the age of 15, Sarnoff found a menial job at a telegraph company. From there, he launched a career in electronic communications and went on to preside over the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), where he was instrumental in developing an all-electronic television system. Sarnoff also helped launch the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the first radio network in America. During World War II, Sarnoff served on Eisenhower's communications staff. In an effort that was later seen as prescient, Sarnoff anticipated that postwar America would need an international radio voice explaining its policies, and he lobbied then-Secretary of State George Marshall to expand the roles of Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.