The invention of the television goes back to as early as 1876. The original TVs are nothing like what we have today, but they truly were in a class of their own. It was very primal, but it was an engineering feat. Imagine the work hours and materials it took to build a single unit back then. I have four television screens in my house, and I could not imagine living without a single screen! I decided I would like to give a bit of history, go back in time, and shed some light on the evolution of the TV.
There was not really a first inventor of the TV. The idea had essentially been kicked around and improved on by many inventors. Different countries had their own versions of early prototype TVs. Due to the variations, many people were coined the inventors of the TV in their own countries, respectively. People of interest in the earliest TVs include Paul Nipkow (the inventor of the Nipkow Disks), John Logie Baird (a British inventor who made the first public demonstration of a television system), Philo Farnsworth (the credited inventor of early electronic televisions), and Vladimir Zworykin (inventor of the Iconoscope). The idea had been around since the early development of the Telegraph. Pioneers once asked, “How can I transfer pictures?” Early television was rough; it consisted of a large disk (see Nipkow Disks above) and a mechanical motor to spin it. The most intriguing part is that these pioneers made light react to cables and wires and get the light to transmit to our screens!
One of the most significant steps for television involved the introduction of color TV. More than one person is known for creating this format, just as with the early invention of television sets. Through my findings, it seems the development of color television has just been a collaborative effort in engineering. Sources claim John Logie Baird to be the inventor of the original television and the original creator of color television. Baird had developed a system in which a spinning color wheel would add tints and hues to the light that passed through the colored wheels. It was a unique design and very innovative. Baird’s early color TV designs influenced NASA’s recording device configuration that they sent to the moon. Unfortunately, Baird would never live to see the implementation of his early prototypes, as he passed away in 1946. Not until at least the 1960s was color TV mass-produced throughout the world.
Let’s fast forward (and bypass the invention of the VCR) to the 20th century. In 1993, the USA distributed the first live HDTV broadcast. High definition became a sort of multi-country race. Japan, the USA, and Russia were all clamoring to distribute HDTV. Japan came out on top early with Sony’s Hi-Vision/MUSE system. With another innovation came another struggle. The FCC decided against the more powerful recording system in Hi-Vision/MUSE. Since this happened, the USA needed to return to the drawing board and redo the HDTV process. The nation was already dealing with bandwidth issues, and Sony’s Hi-Vision/MUSE took up way more bandwidth than was available. This problem led to the implementation of high-compression tools such as an earlier version of the H.264 codec and MPEG.
The TV has been around for over 100 years and does not show signs of slowing down. With the introduction of 8K video and new OLED screens, who knows what the future has in store? Do we see projections in our future? Will we no longer need glass and light and have video broadcast directly into our brains? Only time will tell, but if you were around for the innovation of the TV, tell us your story in the comments below.
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