The History of Television

The progression of television is fascinating. Imagine how forefathers of television development would see the implementation of OLED TV technology. The first days of mechanical television date back to 1873, when Willoughby Smith discovered the photoconductivity of selenium. In 1884, Paul Gottlieb created a scanning disk. Television moving images were first seen in 1926 when demonstrated by John Logie Baird.

The first electromechanical television was patented and proposed in 1884 by Paul Nipkow, a 23-year-old university student. Variations of his spinning-disk to create images was used until 1939. The word television was first used by Constantin Persky in 1900 at the International World Fair.

The practical design of the television started in 1907. Lee DeForest, Arthur Korn and other worked on amplification tube technology. A mirror-drum as a scanner with selenium cells caused the first transmission of silhouettes by A. Fournier and Georges Rignoux.

Crude images were sent in 1911 because of the work of Boris Rosing and Vladimir Zworykin. Their system used a mechanical mirror-drum scanner transmitting images over wires to a cathode ray tube (CRT) in the receive.

In 1925, Baird showed silhouette images in motion. Starting at 5 images per second, Baird worked to improve the scan to 12.5 images per second. By 1926, Baird showed the first working television system in his London lab to the Royal Institution. The vertically scanned image was enough to reproduce a human face.

In 1927, the signal was transmitted over 438 miles. By 1928, Baird Television Development Company/Cinema Television broadcast the first transatlantic signal from London to New York. He added a video disk recording system called Phonovision. Baird also established the first television service.

At this point, television progression began with innovators such as Marconi-EMI, Herbert E. Ives and Frank Gray demonstrating mechanical television with small and large viewing screens. Images were transmitted over two paths, a copper wire link and a radio link. The picture quality was refined.

In the Soviet Union, Leon Theremin developed mirror-drum-based television during the same time period. He developed an image with 100 lines in 1927 and this resolution was not surpassed until 1931 with 120 lines by RCA. In 1926, Kenjiro Takayanagi used a 40-line resolution with a Nipkow disk scanner and CRT display.

An originator of electronic television was Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton in 1908 when he described distant electric vision using CRT, which was named a Braun tube at the time after its inventor Karl Braun.

By 1937, fain images using Swinton’s selenium-coated plate were transmitted by Miller and Strange from EMI and Rose from RCA. Several inventors worked simultaneously using a cathode ray tube as a receiver and transmitter during the 1920s. Patent battles ensued as television technology continued to move forward. Around the globe, the development of television continued.

The first high definition television service happened in 1936, with a 405-line broadcasting using the “Emitron” in Britain in Alexandra Palace on top of one of the building’s towers. The original American iconoscope had interference and was noisy. Emitron camera tubes were developed and patented in 1934. In 1937, the first outstanding broadcasting by the BBC happened on Armistice Day. The public watched the King as he lay a wreath.

Television companies known today began to emerge from the late 1930s to the 1950s including Philips and RCA. In 1941, the United States used a 525-line TV. By 1944, the Soviet Union created a 625-line TV that become the global standard in 1946 with the first broadcast at 625-line standard in 1948.

During the 1940s, the concept of television channels was created and they were also referred to as “stations.” The first broadcast from Europe overseas was in 1950. In 1962, the first live satellite signal from the United States to Britain was broadcast.

In 1947, there were only about 44,000 television sets in America, with most in the New York area. After World War II, television sales soared. Televisions were black and white with broadcasts at limited hours of the day. Color television was developed throughout the 60s and 70s.

Going beyond the rabbit ears and antennae, cablevision and satellite television was developed in the 1970s to add more channels, as well as subscription channels for a fee. Television viewing hours were extended and eventually were 24 hours a day into the 1980s and 1990s. In 1965, the FCC required UHF tuners in all televisions sold in the U.S. In 1971, there were 170 UHF stations across the country with low-power and local programs.

Technologically speaking, television sets used vacuum tube electronics through the 1960s. The televisions were very heavy and somewhat unreliable. Early color sets had a poor picture. Solid-state electronics were introduced in the 1970s and replaced vacuum tubes. Black and white televisions continued to use vacuum tubes in most instances. In the 1970s, electronic tuners were in higher priced televisions in replacement of dials to turn the channels. Remote controls became a popular feature.

In the 1980s, everyone sought out televisions with remote controls and ordered cable television. Analog filters became more common as black-and-white televisions nearly disappeared. In 1988, the first LCD televisions were introduced. By the 1990s, three-line digital comb filters were included in more pricey televisions. With the advent of VCRs and video games, S-video and composite video inputs were added.

In 2009, analog broadcast TV ended in the U.S. with digital terrestrial TV (DTV) becoming the standard. In the 2000s, OLED TV became a buzz word with 2012 being predicted as the year it will become a major hit on the market.