Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Television and It's History

Tv, Television, Retro, Classic, OldMany of our grandparents would recognize this floor model but it is years away from the streaming of today or the flat screen televisions.  I know it's been around for a while but I'm not sure how long.

It turns out historically, the mechanical television came first followed by the electrical one which is what we use today.  The mechanical television began appearing in the 1800's but didn't make much of an impact until the 1920's.

A mechanical television shot light through  a series of one or more rotating disks to produce a picture so they could transmit images without using film.  The first modern one premiered in Selfridges in 1925 as a way to attract shoppers.  It threw the silhouette of a ventriloquist dummy across the room.  One year later, an improved version of the mechanical television made its appearance.  Unfortunately, the images were extremely low resolution, usually the resolution equaled the number of holes.  The disks also could spin so fast, they flew out of the television and hit things.

The inventor, James Baird, kept improving the machine so the "scanned" picture could be transmitted over radio wires so people hundreds of miles away could receive an image.  By 1928, he'd created color pictures using colored lights and various filters.  Across the ocean an American was working on his version of the mechanical television and on July 2, 1928, W3XK broadcast it's first program geared mechanical televisions.

In 1927, another inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth, debuted a new system that captured moving images using a beam of electrons. He was only 21 at the time and it is amazing since he lived in a house with no electricity until he was 14 years old.

Basically the electric television worked by Cathode Tubes to send a beam of electrons to hit the back of the television screen that was coated in phosphor.  The television created a picture, one line at a time using two magnets that steered the beams to the exact location.  These electric televisions produce far superior pictures and the mechanical televisions quickly disappeared from sight.

The first television stations started broadcasting in the late 1920's and early 1930's.  One of the earliest, WRGB began broadcasting in 1926 and has continuously broadcast since then, setting a record.  Although electrical televisions had the best pictures, the first sets sold were mechanical televisions in 1928.  It wouldn't be until 1938 that electrical televisions went into production and became an instant success.

One of the first programs aired by WRGB, "Queens Messenger" premiered in 1928 to an audience of four televisions.  For the first 13 years of its existence, WRGB broadcast everything commercial free but in 1941, a ten second Bulova watch aired on NBC.

As far as color televisions, a German inventor patented the idea of color television in 1904 but he didn't actually have a working model.  It didn't go anywhere until 1946 when companies began pursuing the idea of a color television because all programs were in Black and White.  Although CBS invented the first color television, it was based on the mechanical television and was not compatible with current broadcasts.

Even knowing this, the FCC stated that CBS's television was the industry standard. CBS broadcast its first color transmission in 1951 to about 12 people while 12 million could not receive it.  RCA, the other company working on color, objected and kept on with their research until they came up with a system that worked with black and white sets in 1953.  The FCC acknowledged the RCA system superior and it became the industry standard. In 1954, RCA sets were sold across the country but nation wide color broadcasting didn't start until 1966.  In 1955, the first workable remote hit the market.  This one turned the television on and off, turned channels, and it was wireless.

Throughout the 1950's many radio stars moved to television, original programming such as I Love Lucy began, and advertising increased consistently.  Furthermore, cable television began in 1958 to 425,000 subscribers.  Continuing into the 1960's and 70's many events such as the Nixon-Kennedy debates were broadcast live while much of the live programming originating in New York gave way to carefully shot shows.

Over time, televisions have changed to flat screen high definition where people can enjoy their sports and many more shows are now streaming to digital devices.  Some people, such as myself, do not own a television because I either stream or I watch DVD's on a player.  So now you know a bit more about the story of television.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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