Hubert J. Schlafly Jr. was the onetime “director of television research” at 20th Century Fox. One day, in the late 1940s, he received a request from the vice president for radio and television at Fox, Irving Kahn. Kahn had been talking to a Broadway actor named Fred Barton, who told him that he had an idea for a mechanical device that could help him remember his lines. Kahn asked Schlafly if he could build the contraption.
He attached a motorized scroll inside a suitcase shell, printed half-inch letters on the scroll, and set the device next to the television camera and the teleprompter was born.
Schlafly, Kahn, and Barton all quit their jobs and founded the TelePrompTer Corp., which revolutionized not only television production, where it was first used on a soap opera. President Herbert Hoover was the first prominent politician to use a teleprompter in a speech at the 1952 Republican national convention. Later Lyndon Johnson was the first president to use one during public appearances.