A six year-old commented, "TV is so necessary. What would I do without it?" I told him TV is a rather new invention and the idea of it dawned on its makers about a century ago. It is a stirring thought that something playing such an important role in a little child's life is so young, as an invention.
Television is the third invention after electricity and radio to have a life-shaping, magnetic influence on the masses. The word television loosely means to see far. While public and commercial television stations address masses, cable stations try to attract audiences with specific tastes. In addition to augmenting programs, security and surveillance problems are handled in schools, businesses, and hospitals through closed-circuit television.
Since many scientists were involved in the way the television technology has evolved, we cannot call any one person its inventor. Television was first thought to be possible as early as the 1800's when it was understood that radio communication signals could be sent through the air.
In 1831, Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry were the first scientists to experiment with electromagnetism, therefore establishing a start for electrical communication. They were followed by Samuel Morse in 1844 with his invention of the telegraph and then by Abbe Giovanni Caselli an Italian, who first sent images over a distance using a pantelegraph. In 1873 two the Englishmen, May and Smith, used selenium and light with the idea to transform images into electrical signals. After George Carey's system of selenium cells in 1880, Paul Nipkow patented the first mechanical television scanner in Germany. Marconi's morse code by wireless also played a role in the development of television.
In 1906, Lee DeForest developed a vacuum tube to amplify signals. Then using the German Carl Ferdinand Braun's cathode-ray tube invented in 1897 with the Nipkow disk, Boris Rosing of Russia invented a system as the world's first television in 1907. In 1908, A.A.Campbell-Swinton of Scotland came up with the proposal of an all electronic television. In 1922, Philo T. Farnsworth, a sixteen year-old US citizen, developed an electrical scanning system. At about the same time in 1923, Iconoscope--an electronic camera tube--was patented by Vladimir Zworykin, who also produced the Kinescope, a picture display tube. John Logie Baird was the first to get an actual television picture, but Zworykin took the first patent for color television, being the one person who had made the most contribution during the first developmental stages of television.
In 1927, the pictures of Herbert Hoover, US Secretary of commerce, were sent over two hundred miles from Washington to New York, and in 1928 W2XBS became RCA's first television station in New York City. This was when the first television star, Felix the Cat, was created.
The first television drama "The Queen's Messenger" also came to the screen in 1928. Still during this year, John Logie Baird sent London's images to New York via shortwave. The first television commercial was in the air in 1930 by Charles Jenkins. Also in 1930, BBC started its regular programming. In 1931, VE9EC--Canada's first tv station--and in the USA, RCA from the Empire State Building began transmissions on an experimental basis.
In 1935, France began its television transmissions from the Eiffel Tower and Germany established a three day-a-week transmission service. CBC in Canada was formed in 1936. Right that year, Allen B. Du Mont manufactured the first TV set for sale to the North American public.
An interesting highlight in television transmission happened during World War II. As soon as the war started in 1939, September 1, BBC television stopped broadcasting in the middle of a Mickey Mouse Cartoon and in 1945 resumed the cartoon's showing, starting where it left off in 1939, which makes one wonder what the British children thought of the broadcasters.
By the time the first color television transmission started in 1951, there were over one hundred television stations in the USA. In 1979 there were three hundred million television sets flickering on and off, and by the year 2000, about one and three quarters billion television sets were estimated to exist in operation worldwide.
With the arrival of high-definition and plasma TV's and the talk of computerized TV's or computer and TV combinations, twenty-first century is promising a great deal more of entertainment and education to its viewers worldwide. In bringing the cultures together, let's hope we make the best use of it.