Fifty years ago this month, just before the end of World War II, Thomas Toliver Goldsmith Jr. and three co-workers drove from New Jersey to the District and lugged two transmitters and other equipment to a room on the 12th floor of the Harrington Hotel. They connected the transmitters to heavy, but unused, elevator wires, and found the AC circuits in the basement of the hotel. Voila! Under a temporary operating permit, station W3XWT was on the air -- with a test pattern. You know it today as WTTG, named for Goldsmith, the engineer who got the station up and running. "We knew television was going to amount to quite a bit," remarked 85-year-old Goldsmith recently from his home near Fort Lewis, Wash. That was an understatement for Goldsmith, then director of research for Allen B. DuMont Laboratories in Passaic, N.J. He was so sure about television's future and did so much research on fiber optics and high-definition television that his professional papers fill 10 four-drawer file cabinets at the Library of Congress, Goldsmith said. DuMont himself started his network's first station, WABD, in New York City in 1938. It was assigned Channel 5, as WTTG would be. DuMont's company sold television sets to the public then, so good they were known as the Cadillacs of the industry, but there were hardly any stations to provide programming. So DuMont targeted Washington for its second station; Pittsburgh was to be third. "There was no station in Washington at that time," Goldsmith said, recalling that trip south in 1945. "The war effort was very active. It was very difficult to find a place to hang our hat. We went to the Harrington Hotel, and the man there was a ham radio operator, so he was very sympathetic and gave us a couple of rooms on the top floor." Once Goldsmith and his colleagues realized they could get an experimental station on the air, he went across the street to get a license from the Federal Communications Commission. Told he had to write a letter explaining how such a station would benefit the general public, Goldsmith sat down and typed the letter on the spot. "Then he {the official in charge} said, When do you think you'll be ready?' And I told him, Tomorrow.' " Goldsmith and his colleagues got a 10-day temporary permit. On May 19, 1945, the ninth day of the permit, station W3XWT was given an operating license and was officially on the air. The picture was still a test pattern and the audio portion invited viewers to call the station's number at the Harrington Hotel. But the fledgling station got no viewer feedback until August, when war was over in Japan. "I took one of those test pattern slides and took the emulsion off the slides and took my ink pen and wrote War Is Over,' so we transmitted that," he said. "That evening, people were in mobs celebrating the end of the war, and the telephone rang: It was the Naval Observatory. They had been monitoring various frequencies for clandestine activities." For the first four years, the station carried 20 hours of programming a week, all live. It added advertising in November 1946, when the FCC authorized a commercial license and the call letters WTTG. That year, the station telecast the inauguration of Harry S. Truman; became the first to televise before a studio audience; aired a live sports event (Senators baseball); and carried the first network soap opera ("Faraway Hill," produced by WABD for 12 weeks). NBC and ABC affiliates started in 1947 and CBS's local station debuted in 1949. But in the late 1940s, few people in the Washington area owned TV sets -- only 40, by a pin-count that a WTTG general manager kept on a wall map. WTTG was to be one of several of stations in the DuMont Network. But A.B. DuMont had sold shares of his company to Paramount Pictures, whose heavy-handed business practices were in question by the FCC. In addition, Paramount protected its main product, movies, by forcing cuts in DuMont's programming budget and by holding licenses for future stations in other cities, which prevented DuMont from expanding. DuMont was forced to sell its only money-maker, the Pittsburgh station. In 1958, DuMont became Metropolitan Broadcasting. In January 1959, John Kluge bought Paramount's holdings in Metropolitan and in 1961 changed the name to Metromedia Inc. Goldsmith remained on the board of directors. In 1986, Fox Television bought the station as part of its own network and in July 1993 expanded to seven nights of prime-time programming. Today, WTTG has 193 full-time employees and occupies a six-floor office building in Northwest, uses robotic cameras and produces 24 hours of news each week, including three hours weekdays on "Fox Morning News"; a nationally syndicated children's program ("Not Just News"); and a national Fox program ("America's Most Wanted") and several local sports shows. Goldsmith and DuMont Labs engineer William Sayre, who set up Washington's first station in 1945, married two young women -- both physics graduates from Wilson College -- who came to work for W3XWT. They still play golf together. Their station's done all right too.