Television is a form of entertainment that has been around for decades, but it’s hard to imagine what life was like before this invention.
Read on to learn more about how television came into existence and the changes it brought about in society.
The history of how television invented
Television was invented by an English physicist and inventor of the first commercially practicable “television system”, John Logie Baird, who first demonstrated a working television system on 26 January 1926.
It is thought that Baird’s work as a wireless operator in the merchant navy and as an engineer contributed considerable skills to the development of his television invention.
Baird’s early broadcasts were of a silhouette image of a ventriloquist’s dummy named “Stooky Bill” whose “talking” was produced by an optical disc.
The images were initially crude and required more improvement to be useful for television transmission – this came with the development of the first recognizably modern, electronic television transmitting and receiving system by the German inventors, Karl Ferdinand Braun and Edward George Berndt.
How was the first television works
The first electronic television system employed a spinning disk (Nipkow disk) containing spirals of holes and a similar spiral of 18,000 small lenses to scan the transmitted image.
However, electrically scanning this type of television picture quickly proved to be too slow for any practical use. Braun’s design was further developed at Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
In 1928, Philo T. Farnsworth became one of the inventor’s phenomena when he created a revolutionary new type of television screen that produced an image by scanning it in lines from top to bottom and from side to side rather than creating a spiral shape as Baird was using.
Farnsworth successfully demonstrated his electronic “image rasterizer” at his employer, the American Broadcasting Company in Philadelphia in 1934. Farnsworth submitted a patent for his television system on 7 January 1927 and later patented it in 1928.
Despite this major breakthrough, there were many problems that limited the proportion of the population with access to television sets, they were expensive and often difficult to repair.
By 1937, when Farnsworth transmitted his first experimental all-electronic television image, there are fewer than 500 televisions in the United States.
However, by 1938 Farnsworth’s transmitter had been perfected allowing him to demonstrate color television for the first time at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute.
The first public television transmission
The first public television transmission was of the Queen’s moving image seen by King George V at Sandringham.
The occasion was to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of his reign, on January 25, 1937.
Baird’s system transmitted live moving images by telegraph over 438 miles (705 kilometers) of telephone line between London and Glasgow. It was many years before this was achieved again.
The first television station in the United States, W2XAB began broadcasting on 17 September 1928, from the General Electric facility in Schenectady, New York.
It used an iconoscope (sensitive camera) tube developed by the Westinghouse Corporation’s Vladimir K. Zworykin. The sound was not broadcast until the following year, and regular broadcasts commenced on 25 August 1930.
The cost of a television set in the 1930s was far too expensive for most people to afford. Only about 5000 sets had been sold by 1938 when regular broadcasts started being made from the UK to the USA, France, Germany and other European countries.
The first television license was issued in the UK on 1 July 1936. At this time there were only around two thousand TV sets in the country, all of which were in the London area.
The BBC continued experimental broadcasts for several years before regular schedules began.
Regular broadcasts were started throughout Europe between 1938 and 1939.
The European Broadcasting Union was formed on 12 February 1950 to coordinate the complex range of technical standards used in different countries.
As television broadcasting developed during the early years of World War 2 there were experimental broadcasts from the US and Europe to Canada, Latin America and Australia.
In 1933, regular evening transmissions began between London and New York using high power short wave transmitters.
These transmissions could be received as far away as South Africa or Australia, although they required an extremely large antenna.
Early TV sets
Some early television sets were built by hobbyists building their own sets from kits, but these were very expensive and relatively few in number.
However, the British company J.L. Baird Ltd. was manufacturing TV sets for the British market by 1936.
On this side of the Atlantic, Philco made its first television set in 1939, becoming one of the first companies to make and sell complete TV sets.
This was during the early days of World War 2 amid restrictions on their use, because radio frequencies were needed for wartime purposes.
The next year, the Sinclair company was founded in Britain by Sir Clive Sinclair for the manufacture of his own radios and pocket TV sets.
He later developed a flat-screen television, 20 years before modern ones were offered to the public.
The first commercially-sold television receivers in Britain went on sale at 6d each (six old pennies) from John Logie Baird’s factory in December 1925.
However, the first commercially sold TV set was introduced to America by Philco in 1939.
The first commercially sold TV sets in America, were introduced by Philco in 1939.
The Baird company manufactured the only British TV sets between 1935 and 1954 when Ampex Corporation began imports of television receivers to Britain.
However, no other country was producing their own TVs at this time due to World War 2.
The small pre-war market for TV sets expanded dramatically during 1948 when sales of TV receivers in Britain increased to 430,000.
The post-war popularity of TV was further enhanced by the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, with an estimated 20 million viewers worldwide watching this event on their television screens.
The world’s first TV station began regular broadcasts in 1928, but it was not until 1946 that the first actual TV sets were sold.
They were very expensive and only a few thousand were sold each year for almost 13 years before they became more common.
The post-war boom in sales of television sets really took off after 1947 when the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was televised to a vast audience.
The first TV license was issued in Britain on 1 July 1936, but it wasn’t until the Coronation that sales really took off for this new innovation.
TV sets are now affordable to most people throughout the world.
However, their cost has prevented them from becoming truly mainstream entertainment in poorer countries throughout the world.