By Julie Chauviere

The birth of television was not due to one single inventor. The creation of the TV took time and many people contributed to its evolution. Some were working together, and some alone and from different countries. The first television sets were not entirely electric. They were at the beginning mechanical. It had a small motor with a spinning disc and a neon lamp, which worked together to give a blurry reddish-orange image about half the size of a business card (Left).

Quick Review of the Beginning: How it all started
: Joseph Henry and Michael Faraday’s work with electromagnetism makes possible the era of electronic communication to begin.

1862: Abbe Giovanna Caselli invents the "pantelegraph" (Pictured Right) and becomes the first person to transmit a still image over wires.

1873: Scientists May and Smith experiment with selenium and light, this experiment helped inventors to transform images into electronic signals.

1876: George Carey wanted to do a complete television system and in 1877 he made drawings for what he called a "selenium camera" that would allow people to "see by electricity."

Eugene Goldstein changed the term "cathode rays" to illustrate the light emitted when an electric current was forced through a vacuum tube.

Late 1870's: Scientists and engineers Paiva, Figuier, and Senlecq were selecting other designs for "telectroscopes."

1880: The inventors Bell and Edison conceive on telephone devices that transmit image and sound. Bell's photophone used light to transmit sound and he wanted to advance his device to also send images.

1881: Sheldon Bidwell experiments with telephotography, which is another photophone.

1884: Paul Nipkow used a rotating metal disk technology to send images over wires. It is called the "electric telescope".

1900:   At the World's Fair in Paris, the 1st International Congress of Electricity took place, where Russian Constantin Perskyi made the first known use of the word "television."


Mechanical Television

1906: Lee de Forest invents the "Audion" vacuum tube that was necessary to electronics. The Audion was the first tube with the ablity to amplify signals. Boris Rosing combines Nipkow's disk and a cathode ray tube and builds the first working mechanical TV system (Right).

1907: Campbell Swinton and Boris Rosing suggest using cathode ray tubes (Left) to transmit images, independent of each other, they both develop electronic scanning methods to reproduce images.

Paul Gottlied Nipkow
German, Paul Nipkow developed a rotating-disc technology to transmit pictures over wire in 1884 called the Nipkow disk. This was the very first electromechanical TV scanning system. Nipkow's system was abandoned early in the history of TV for the electronic systems developed by later inventors.

John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird (Left) is remembered as being an inventor of mechanical television. Mechanical television, an earlier version of TV, was developed in late 1920s in England. During W.W.II, Baird developed the first color picture tube.

Charles Francis Jenkins
Jenkins invented a mechanical television system called radiovision and claimed to have transmitted the earliest moving silhouette images on June 14, 1923.


Electronic Television

The History of the Cathode Ray Tube
Electronic television is based on the development of the cathode ray tube, which is the picture tube found in modern TV sets. German scientist, Karl Braun invented the cathode ray tube oscilloscope (CRT) in 1897.

Vadimir Kosma Zworydin
Vladimir Kosma Zworykin invented the cathode-ray tube called the kinescope in 1929, a tube needed for TV transmission. He also invented the iconoscope, an early television camera.

Philo T. Farnsworth
Philo T. Farnsworth was the farm boy who conceived the basic operating principles of electronic television at 13 years old.


The Development of Color Television

In 1904, a German patent contained the earliest proposal for a color television system. In 1925, Zworykin filed a patent for an all-electronic color television system. But unfortunately, neither of these systems were successful but they were still considered the first color television. The very first successful color television system began commercial broadcasting in December 1953. It was based on a system designed by RCA.

In 1940, before RCA (Radio Corporation of America), CBS researchers led by Peter Goldmark invented a mechanical color television system based on the designs of John Logie Baird. The FCC (Federal Communications Commision) authorized CBS's color television technology as the national standard in October of 1950, in spite of the fact that the system was huge, complicated, and was not compatible with earlier black and white sets. RCA sued to stop the public broadcasting of CBS based systems. CBS had begun color broadcasting on five East Coast stations in June1951. However, at that time 10.5 million black and white televisions (half RCA sets) had been sold to the public and very few color sets. Color television production was stopped during the Korean War, and with the lawsuits, and the slow sales, the CBS system failed.

Those factors provided RCA with the time to design a better color television, which they based on the 1947 patent application of Alfred Schroeder. Their system passed FCC approval in late 1953 and sales of RCA color televisions began in 1954.


Philip Nipkow (1860-1940) He was a German engineer who at 23 years old, proposed and patented the first electromechanical television system in 1884.


Charles F Jenkins (1867-1934) He was an American inventor from Ohio and he created a mechanical television system called radiovision and claimed to have transmitted the earliest moving silhouette images on June 14, 1923.


John Logie Baird (1888-1946) He was a Scottish engineer and entrepreneur who in 1924 created the first transmissions of simple face shapes using mechanical television


Philo T. Farnsworth (1906-1971) He was an American inventor from Utah who in 1927, when he was only 21 years old, created the first electronic television system. In 1928, He publicly demonstrated the first all-electronic television image.


David Sarnoff (1891-1971) He was the President of the RCA (Radio Corporation of American. He had an important role in financing the development of electronic television. He founded NBC, the radio broadcasting of RCA, in 1926. NBC facilitated some of the earliest American mechanical television broadcasts with experimental transmissions of Felix the cat. Meanwhile, Sarnoff encouraged Zworykin to continue to develop an all-electronic television system.

Vladimir Zworykin (1889-1982) He was a Russian inventor and he created in 1929the cathode-ray tube called the kinescope. The kinescope tube was necessary needed for television. He was one of the first to demonstrate a television system with all the features of modern picture tubes. In 1923, Zworykin also invented the iconoscope -- a tube for television transmission used in the first cameras. The iconoscope was replaced but it laid the foundations for early television cameras.


By Ben Garrett

While television was developed in the early 20 th century, it did not become America’s primary source of entertainment until after World War II. Early television borrowed much of its content from radio programming. This transition of vaudeville type radio acts to the television screen was enormously successful. Eventually television started to create its own forms of entertainment. Variety shows and dramas became one of America’s favorite entertainment pastimes. The popularity of television undoubtedly rests on the many dynamic personalities of its entertainers and actors.

One of television’s first stars was Bob Hope. Hope (Right) became a 20 th century American comedic icon, thanks in large part to his presence on television. Parlaying a successful radio and Broadway career to television proved to be fairly easy for this talented entertainer. In 1950 Hope signed a deal with NBC to produce television comedy specials. For over 40 years Hope’s specials entertained America, particularly at Christmas time.

The variety show is an entertainment genre belonging distinctly to television. . Television executives were eager to bring vaudeville style acts to the TV screen, and “The Ed Sullivan Show” stands as a successful example of this transition (Left). Starting in 1948, “The Ed Sullivan Show” would become televisions longest running variety series Variety shows were mass-marketed to appeal the widest possible audiences. In television’s infancy, only a few channels existed, so it was highly possible to attract giant, nationwide audiences. This show operated under the comedic mantra “to entertain some of the audience at least part of the time.” The high point of “The Ed Sullivan Show” came in 1964, when the fledgling rock band “The Beatles” made their first American appearance. This was the show’s all-time highest rated episode, and has been credited with helping to start the musical and cultural revolutions occurring in the 1960’s.

Besides its entertainment draw, television has also been a highly depended upon source for daily news. The evening news on any of the “Big 3” networks has become an American institution. Walter Cronkite (Right) was likely America’s most beloved and popular news anchor. Cronkite was a young war correspondent during World War II. In 1950 he was hired by CBS as a full time reporter. In 1962 he became CBS’s nightly newscaster. His job as anchor ran until 1981. During his tenure as America’s anchor, Cronkite covered momentous social events such as the Civil Rights Movement, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Assassination, and the first Moon Walk by America’s NASA space program. It has been said that Cronkite was “the most trusted man in America.”

Television has not been without its female personalities. Perhaps the first beloved female star was Mary Tyler Moore (Left). In the 1960’s and 70’s Moore was the star of two of television’s first situational comedies. In the 60’s she played a wacky suburban housewife on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” In the 1970’s Moore became a role-model for America’s feminist movement. On the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” she played the role of a Minneapolis newswoman coming off the heels of a failed relationship. The show revolved around her business and social relationships, and is of particular importance because it was the first television show in which a single woman proved to be happy and successful, without a man in her life.

Oprah Winfrey has become a truly iconic American. Her career began at the age of 19, as a news reporter for a Nashville, Tennessee television station. In 1976 she became one of the nation’s first African American anchorwomen in Baltimore, Maryland. By 1984, Oprah had landed a job as a talk show host on a then failing Chicago morning show. Oprah’s infectious personality helped her come to dominate Chicago’s morning shows within a few short years. Her daily talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.

has been syndicated nationally since 1985. Oprah is beloved by most Americans, and has achieved a level of unprecedented financial success. She is unique as a black woman who has transcended and redefined racial boundaries within the television industry. Her talk show has received numerous awards and her media empire includes magazines, book clubs, and even a movie production wing.

These five individuals are only a small sampling of the many personalities that have helped to make television America’s foremost source of entertainment. Television’s presence in our homes allows audiences to develop a unique and almost personal connection with these individuals. Beloved by their audiences, these stars enjoy an unrivaled level of celebrity in American society.


By Brynne Steward

When satellite television first became readily available to the general public, home satellite dishes were quite impractical. The dishes used for home television viewing were large, expensive metal pieces of equipment that took up a huge amount of space. One can see how this sort of technology already excludes those who may not be able to afford this technology or who do not have enough space to store the necessary equipment. In the early years of satellite television, only the more well-off die hard TV fans would even go through the hassle and expense to get the satellites installed. However, a lot has changed since then. Now, many more people have taken advantage of satellite television because the dishes are a lot smaller and more manageable, able to perch on top of almost any rooftop, as well as less expensive.

There are more reasons why satellite television became more popular over the years. One reason was to alleviate a problem that currently existed for television viewers. The problem was the limitations of the current system of broadcast television. Broadcast television stations use a powerful antenna to transmit radio waves to the surrounding areas. People who wish can pick up these signals with a much smaller antenna connected to their television set. The biggest problem with this system is the range. The radio signals that broadcast stations use only project in a straight line and in order for one to receive this signal they must be in the relative direct lines of the waves. Small things such as trees or buildings are not a problem but because the earth is curved, this straight line signal can only be picked up for so long. Therefore, a lot of people are not able to pick up this signal. In addition, people who are able to pick up the signal often receive a distorted image because to make sure the image is clear one has to be pretty close to the broadcast antenna with few obstacles in the way.

Satellite television set out to alleviate these problems attributed to broadcast television. Instead of transmitting signals from a station antenna that was easily hindered, it transmits signals from satellites orbiting the earth. More people were therefore able to pick up the signals from their personal dishes because more people are in the line of sight of the antenna and there are fewer obstacles in the way to obstruct the image. Television began using satellites on March 1, 1978 when the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) introduced Public Television Satellite Service.

People began turning to satellite television because over the years the dishes got smaller and more affordable. They moved from taking up the whole back yard to being perched on the roof of the residence out of the way completely. Also, people interested in a myriad of television shows could use their dishes to tune into broadcasts not necessarily intended for mass audiences, pick up signals from foreign countries, watch commercial-less programming, and listen to music in top quality, or anything else transmitted by satellite for that matter. Some seek out these channels on their own but most get their programs from ready-made packages provided by a direct broadcast satellite provider. People in especially rural areas enjoy the perks of satellite television because regular broadcast cable does not reach them. Satellite television also offers a lot more channels than cable.

Though satellite television has a lot of advantages, it also has its disadvantages. For one, the images face the possibility of being obscured if there is bad weather. It also does not present the best access to local programming which is as important as getting info from around the globe. Also, satellite television is restricted to one channel at a time on all televisions if they are connected to the same receiver dishes. This can present a problem when multiple people in a household wish to watch different programs. A solution to this problem would be to get different receivers for each television. Satellite television also tends to cost more than cable television.

The two major companies offering satellite television are DirecTV and the Dish network. Their competition for the satellite audience markets benefit’s the consumer by keeping prices as low as possible. There are multiple advantages and disadvantages to satellite television and if it is worth investing in is completely up to the customer depending on their television viewing wishes. If they want all the channels they never knew they wanted to watch satellite television might be for them. If they live in an area where cable is not available, satellite is definitely a likely option. Satellite television is a technology offered to give consumers options based on their personal preferences. It was extremely innovative when it was introduced to society and continues to improve upon itself to keep up with today's ever-changing technology. It will be interesting to see what satellite television offers us in the near future.


By Raymond Look

As many new technology is growing in the development of television, i.e. TiVo. This technology is helping make television interactive. Ellen Lee in Television ready to high-tech wrote that television “ could include multiple picture-in-picture, an interactive electronic television guide, live video telephone calls, the ability to search for programs meeting a certain criteria, and the power to control the camera angle during a sports game,” (

Lavada Desalles of the House Energy and Commerce is quoted to say “ Digital television technology is the greatest transformation television service has experienced since the advent of color television 50 years ago. It offers consumers better quality transmission and a wider range of programming options. Digital television delivers a significantly sharper resolution than over- the-air broadcast-only television, and a higher-quality sound. This is an exciting technological development for television viewers,” (

Television programs to go wireless in May written by Kim Tong-hyung said, “ Mobile television services, dubbed by Korean officials as digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB), are designed to beam digital television, audio and data broadcasts to handheld devices via satellite or land-based television airwaves,” (

David Grimes in Smell-O-Vision is wafing into your future writes that “… Sony is (allegedly) developing a set that emits odors as well as pictures. Call it Smell-O-Vision,” (

In Interactive TV ready to debut by Bruce Meyerson, he wrote “IPTV converts a television signal into small packets of computer data like any other form of online traffic such as e-mail, a Web page or the Internet phone service known as VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol making it easier to integrate the various services on a TV screen, …[and offer] an interactive program guide that might enable viewers to watch a sample clip, program a digital video recorder, pull up information about the actors and director or search for other shows on a related topic or from the same genre,” (

While researching for the future of television, there were many speculations of what the television can do for us. These are some ideas television can be headed towards. Many of the ideas can be hard to be grasped but they are good ideas. I think the technology we can see in the future will be building on older technology to make it make better for us. The future of television is hard to speculate but with introduction of new technology and ideas, television has a bright future.


Television invades the American home. Britannica Student Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 18, 2005, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

Walter Cronkite:

Bob Hope:

Mary Tyler Moore:

Ed Sullivan:

Oprah Winfrey:


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