Photo Credit: University of Illinois archives
By: Amanda Kaiser, B.S. Advertising, College of Media, Class of 2011
Born in 1877 to a Jewish family in Wloclawek, a small town in Poland, he became an experienced radio technician, working for the Marconi Company in London, and then with Nicola Tesla on shortwave radio. He returned to Poland to work on radios for the Polish government after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Tykociner returned to the United States to pursue a career in inventing. He accepted a faculty and laboratory position in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1922, he discovered how to add sound to motion pictures. His discoveries ultimately led to the creation of modern-day television. On June 9, 1922, Tykociner gave a public demonstration of his revolutionary invention at a conference for the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. This sound was heard throughout the world as news of his invention spread like wildfire.
In 1962, Tykociner retired from Illinois to pursue research in the field he termed “zetetics,” the science of research activities and creative processes. He dedicated the rest of his life to this field by teaching classes and publishing in the field. In 1964, he was awarded a third Award of Merit from the National Electronics Conference in Chicago. That same year, he was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Tykociner continued his research in the area of zetetics until his passing in 1969. Tykociner will be remembered as one of the brightest minds in the field of engineering.