Theodore Ted Case


Case Working on Daylight Monitoring device, 1916

Theodore (Ted) Case was raised in a life of luxury, belonging to one of Auburn’s most prominent business families. In his youth, Case discovered a love of the sciences, inherited from his father, Willard Erastus Case. Case was a true “mover and shaker,” displaying a love for the rapid progress of his day not only through his scientific interests but for his comparable love for fast-moving cars, boats, and later on the occasional plane.

Case’s inherited wealth and scientific mind, along with ready access to the power, influence, and talent found throughout Central New York and the Finger Lakes Region, allowed him to transform a greenhouse on the property of his 203 Genesee St. home into one of the most progressive scientific research centers of the early twentieth century, accomplishing feats comparable to large city and university laboratories.

While Case spearheaded a variety of research topics, he only successfully commercialized three of his inventions: the Thalofide Cell, an infrared signaling system, and a daylight monitoring device. As his business grew and his work became more prominent in the scientific and business communities, Case was approached by radio tycoon, Lee de Forest, about the use of the Thalofide Cell in the creation of sound film. This moment would change Case’s life and the sound film revolution would begin in earnest when Case discovered the AEO Light in December of 1922. With duelling claims over ownership of the bulb, Case and de Forest would eventually break ties as the former became essential to the creation of early sound film and the beginnings of mass media with Fox Film Corporation.

A man of means, through and through, Case became bored with the business life after his Movietone system became a household name. Selling his shares in Fox, with his substantial resources Case created the Case Mansion in Auburn, which is to this day the largest residence in the city. He contributed his Genesee St. home to the founders of the Cayuga Museum in 1936, and this has been our home ever since. Through Case’s contributions to science and research, a backyard laboratory in Auburn, New York briefly became the pre-eminent sound film research and development center, ushering in a new era in entertainment and technology.

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Images on this Page

Header: Ted Case in short test clip, 1924

Upper Left: Ted Case testing daylight monitoring device, 1916