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A Brief Introduction To The History Of Television

Television, often referred to as the ‘idiot box’, has become one of the basic necessities of modern living. One cannot imagine how much influence it has had on everyone’s life since its invention. Famous talk shows like the Oprah Winfrey’s show or that of David Letterman has become part of the staple diet of Americans. Hollywood would not be as thriving as it is today without the emergence of television that has created a large audience for its movies. The ‘TV’ is ubiquitous in its presence and is part of nearly every American home. The television industry has given rise to a host of related activity, from production of ‘software or content’ for the TV shows to ‘hardware’ like TV components, TV broadcasting and the like. The history of television is a long one with several theories and inventions contributing to the present day device.

Timeline of the history of television

The basic foundations of modern day television broadcasting were laid as far back as 1831 when Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry discovered electromagnetism that later led to the discovery of electronic communication. Many other scientists worked on how to transmit static images electronically in the years 1862 and 1900.

May and Smith showed in 1873 how to convert the light reflected from static images to electronic signals using selenium. The idea of cathode ray tubes which converted electronic signals back into images then emerged and Eugen Goldstein is credited with first using the term cathode rays.

In 1884, Paul Nipkow created a mechanical TV using rotating disk with lamp as the light source. This TV had a resolution of eighteen lines and he called it electric telescope. The word ‘television’ was first used by the Russian Constantin Perskyi in 1900 at the first International Electricity Congress held as part of World Fair in Paris. We may consider this as the beginning of the history of television as we know today. Many theories like the electromagnetic wave theory put forth by scientists then contributed to the idea of transmission of continuous images over wires but there were many hurdles like absence of necessary field for transmission.

The invention of iconoscope, which functioned like a TV camera, in 1923 by Vladimir Zworkin laid the foundations of modern TV technology. It was based on the concept of sending images using cathode ray tubes put forth by Campbell Swinton and Boris Rosing. Since then the history of television has seen efforts being targeted at increasing the image resolution, starting from 30 lines initially. This screen definition was of poor quality with small details being ignored. Higher and higher definition screens have been produced since 1926 and broadcasting companies began to emerge that could broadcast high quality images.

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