Televisions are a common household object today. You can find them in most houses, hotel rooms, or any other buildings you might be visiting. Thanks to technologies such as the Internet and social media, we are now able to watch our favorite TV shows, sports events, news programs, and more from just about anywhere. However, this wasn’t always the case. The television was once an extremely expensive device that was only available for royalty or the very wealthy. This article will explore the invention of the television and its early pioneers. How did we get from candle-lit performances by Shakespearean actors to affordable flatscreen TVs? Keep reading to learn more about these advancements in technology.
What is a Television?
If you haven’t looked at a TV since you were in high school, it may be helpful to understand what it is. The television is a piece of electronic equipment that receives, decodes, and displays video content. This is all done through the use of electromagnetic waves, which are sent and received through an antenna. A signal is sent out from a nearby TV or cable tower and is then picked up by the antenna, which sends it to the TV and decodes the signal. The TV then displays the video content on its screen. If you want to record the content, you have to have a DVR (digital video recorder). Nowadays, televisions come in a wide variety of sizes, from tiny wall-mounted models to giant flat screens.
The Invention of the Television: Brief History
There’s a joke that the invention of the television was inevitable because, after all, people have been trying to invent it since the Ancient Greeks. While it’s true that the technology for television has been around for thousands of years, it was only during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that we saw the development of the first television sets. For the first few thousand years after the Greek discovery of the concept of light and shadow combination, inventors were focused on using mirrors and lenses to project images onto walls or screens. Several notable advancements were made during the 18th and 19th centuries with the invention of the camera and the microscope. But it wasn’t until the invention of the vacuum tube that we saw the first real glimmer of what we would consider television.
John Logie Baird and the Birth of Television
One of the first pioneers of television technology was Scottish inventor John Logie Baird. While he did not invent the television per se, he did invent a type of TV system that was able to transmit images from one place to another. This was a major breakthrough that helped pave the way for future inventions. Baird’s system was known as mechanical scanning, and it involved a spinning disk with holes in it that would transmit light when it was spun in the dark. The holes would spin until they lined up and projected an image onto a screen. While it couldn’t produce high-quality images, it proved that mechanical scanning was a legitimate way of transmitting visual media.
Philo T. Farnsworth and the Electronic Television
Although mechanical scanning got us started, it was soon replaced by electronic scanning. This was a process that involved scanning an image by sending an electric current through a piece of charged glass or other material. The charge would draw the image up like a net. The charged material would then be discharged and the image would be sent to the receiving device. Farnsworth, who was born in 1906 in Utah, was an American inventor who is often credited with inventing the first electronic television. He got the idea while he was still in high school and had his first functioning television set ready by 1927. Farnsworth's invention was very similar to Baird’s mechanical scanning system in that he used an image drawn on a charged glass plate to create the images. The major difference was that Farnsworth utilized an electric current to draw the image up instead of a spinning disk.
After a few false starts and many failed attempts, the invention of the television finally came to fruition towards the end of the 1920s. Although it would still be quite some time before the average person could afford to purchase their own television set, after many years of hard work and dedication, early television pioneers were able to create a device that allowed millions of people around the world to watch their favorite shows and share information with one another. The early televisions were not very advanced, and the technology would continue to improve for several decades after their invention. It wasn’t until the 1990s and 2000s that we saw major breakthroughs in technology that would lead to more modern and advanced televisions.