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From Logie Baird to 3D TV

Television actually started in the late 1800’s

One of the most frequently asked questions related to television is, “Where’s the remote?” When the first simple television (televisores) was built in 1928, it did not come with a remote. The entire wonder consisted of a disk, a light (which tended to make the images orange in appearance) and a moderate need for electricity.

Television actually started in the late 1800’s when a German student, Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, developed the first ever-mechanical module of television. He succeeded in sending images through wires with the help of a rotating metal disk. This technology was called the ‘electric telescope’ that had 18 lines of resolution.

Around 1907, two separate inventors, A.A. Campbell-Swinton from England and Russian scientist Boris Rosing, used the cathode ray tube in addition to the mechanical scanner system, to create a new television system.

From the experiments of Nipkow and Rosing, two types of television systems came into existence: mechanical television and electronic television.

In 1923, an American inventor called Charles Jenkins used the disk idea of Nipkow to invent the first ever practical mechanical television system. By 1931, his Radiovisor Model 100 was being sold in a complete kit as a mechanical television.

In 1926, just a little after Jenkins, a British inventor known as John Logie Baird, was the first person to have succeeded in transmitting moving pictures through the mechanical disk system started by Nipkow. He also started the first ever TV studio.

From 1926 till 1931, the mechanical television system saw many innovations. Although the discoveries of these men in the department of mechanical television were very innovative, by 1934, all television systems had converted into the electronic system, which is what is being used even today.

The typical screen was about 6×8 inches and generally was mounted in a much larger cabinet. By the late 1930’s televisions were made by several manufacturers in the United States and throughout Europe and the Soviet Union.

World War II slowed recreational television progress while turning that technology to the necessary military communications. Many communication devices were made accessible using television cable. Unlike the Viet Nam War, civilians were not able to watch the battles that had been fought and radio was still highly sought for news and entertainment.

By 1945, many American families believed they had suffered enough hardship from the war and rewarded themselves with televisions. The pictures were of a better quality than in earlier televisions and only in black and white. Programming other than news had caught on and gradually, game shows, sports and other programmes of interest were available.

Technically, the ability to produce programs in colour occurred in the late 1940’s, however it was in the mid 1960’s that major broadcasters began to produce their programming in colour. Early coloured televisions did not provide exact colour replication. One often noticed unnatural tint that was correctable by manipulating the ‘tint’ dial on the television.

For those of us old enough to remember the assignation of John F. Kennedy, we will also remember his lying in state and his funeral and burial all shown on major broadcast stations. This was the first major event in American history that could be viewed by people all across the United States on television. Despite miles of separation, people in the USA felt more connected to one another because of this new technology.

The 1970’s brought about the greatest surge of television purchases. Major appliance stores (Sears and others) had banks of televisions on display. Daytime television and ‘Soap Operas’ became favouites of many stay at home mothers. Game shows became more plentiful as did movies, which introduced us to favourites such as John Wayne, Robert Young, ‘Beaver Cleaver’, and many, many more. These were idyllic families, devoid of abuse, less than charitable language, arguments, and other behaviors evidenced in today’s homes and societies. Television commercials changed the ‘tools’ of childhood which previously had been invented and make believe to Barbie and Ken dolls, talking bears, more sophisticated bicycles and wagons and the like.

Satellites influenced further changes in television in the mid 1980’s. Pay for view programming became possible through the encryption of programming and transmitting via cable and only to viewers who had the additional equipment to view such programmes.

Today, digital and satellite television deliver the clearest images, including ‘crystal-clear’ HD (High Definition), to the viewer with incredible colour reproduction and provide several hundred channels from which to choose. Televisions have grown from 6×8 picture tubes in huge cabinets to ultra slim (2.2in.) flat panel instruments ranging from 26in to 63in (and even bigger) sitting atop pedestals or fastened against a wall of your house.

Large screen television gives the appearance of football players kicking off in one’s living room and monster trucks driving directly at the viewer, especially as we now have 3D television!

Television today may even be accessed from one’s computer as well as by cell phone, smart phone, ‘iPad’, etc. What will be next? ‘Smellyvision’?


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