Who Invented the Television?

The history of television is complex and no single person can claim to be its inventor. However the following will show an outline of its development and the individuals responsible for it.


Early History

Its origins can be traced back to 1873 when Willoughby Smith discovered photoconductivity in selenium, vital to TV’s development. Records show that in 1884, a German named Nipkow had gotten a patent for an electromechanical TV in 1884.

Nipkow never worked on the TV though, but he designed the spinning disk. This spinning disk is regarded as the first TV image rasterizer.

The word television itself was invented by Constantin Perskyi at the International Electricity Congress at the International World Fair (Paris, August 25, 1900). The history of television shows that the prototypes were first used to relay simple sstill images.
Electronic TV

The next stage in TV’s development took place in 1911. An engineer named Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton described how cathode ray tubes could be used to relay electric vision for both receiving and transmission.

The use of a transmitter was also considered for the first time. During the 1920s, several scientists started working on electronic transmission tubes.

On September 7, 1927, Philo Farnsworth used a camera tube and transmitted an image (a single line) in his lab. A year later he was giving public demonstrations and in 1929 transmitted images of people. The history of television shows that in 1934 the electronic TV had been invented.

The 1930s and 40s


Britain’s Isaac Shoenberg developed a device for transmitting 405 line images in 1936. The 625 line was first used in the Soviet Union in 1944. It became widely used in the USSR and was adapted throughout Europe. As innovations continued, the number of lines would increase.

Broadcasting in the United States

TV service in the US started on July 2, 1928. The initial broadcast came from C.F. Jenkins who was given permission to perform experimental transmissions. The broadcasting station was W3XK and emanated from Maryland, Washington.

The history of television took a step forward when the Queen’s Messenger, a one act drama aired on September 11, 1928. This was followed by RCA’s broadcasts from New York in 1929.

On April 26, 1931, W2XCR TV broadcasted Broadway celebrities along Fifth Avenue. By 1938, the lines had increased to over 300 and broadcasts were beginning to occur on a regular basis. The TV network NBC started regular broadcast on April, 1939. It started with the New York World’s Fair. The NTSC standards were implemented in 1941.

These stated that lines need to be 525 with 30 frames per second. It needed to have interlaced scanning. By July 1941, commercial licenses were being released. Programming was limited somewhat during the war.

After World War II, regular programs started to come on the air. Eventually colored TVs started appearing. The development of TV in the US was echoed in other countries including Canada.

Since that time, the history of television has evolved. The technological advances today show how far the TV has gone.

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