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As of today, there are probably a billion of television sets found all over the world. But a century ago, televisions have not even existed. Even up to 53 years ago, only a handful of americans were able to own a television at home. How does something that, at that time, was something out of the ordinary come to become a fixture on almost every single home in the planet?

Today, we are going to look at how the television came to be, from the its inception to the modern televisions of today, and the futuristic mirror tv.

The mechanical televisions of 1800s to 1900s.

Before the modern television, we had non-electric ones.

By the start of the 19th century, these kinds of television sets started appearing. They function by tediously scanning images and projecting these images on a screen. Obviously, this television sets compared to the modern televisions like mirror tvs, they pale in comparison in both function and ease of use.

The very early versions of these televisions were made up of rotating holes arranged in spiral patterns. The exact device can be attributed to two inventors who worked independently apart from each other. They are scottish inventor John Logie Baird and American inventor Charles Francis Jenkins. These devices first appeared during the 1920s.

Before this, however, a german inventor by the name Paul Gottlieb Nipkow had already invented the first mechanical televisions. Unlike the one described earlier, this mechanical television sent the images through wires using a rotating metal disk. By this time, no one called it a television and instead, Nipkow named it the “electric telescope”. This invention had 18 lines of resolution which is far flung from the resolution levels of televisions such as the mirror tvs that we have today.

By 1907, two more inventors by the name of Boris Rosing, a Russian, and A.A. Campbell-Swinton, an Englishman, had the idea to combine a cathode ray tube with a mechanical scanning system that was the precursor to the first CRT displays that was invented later.

1927 – The first electric television was invented.

A young inventor then at just 21 years old by the name of Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented the first ever electric television. Quite ironically, he had lived in a house that did not have electricity at all until he has reached the age of 14. During his time in highschool, he was conceptualizing the idea of capturing moving images, represent them as radio waves and transfer them to another station.

What Farnsworth have come up with is miles ahead of any mechanical television that have had existed. Similar to how cameras worked, He captured the images using beams of electrons.

During his first successful experiment, he was able to transport a simple single line. Later on, he transmitted an entire dollar sign across the electric television which prompted interested investors to ask when they would have their share of the money.

Between the brief period of 1926 and 1931, mechanical televisions still ruled the market and were being tweaked and tested. Three years after, however, all of that did not matter because the electric television was then taking over. All used televisions then were now electric.

During this period all the images were only in black and white as you might be familiar with upon watching old films. Although, already theorized as early as 1904, it would take a long while before it would come into fruition as will be discussed later on.

How exactly does a mechanical television work?

As described above there were two types of televisions that were in existence. The electrical television and the mechanical television. They worked quite differently from each other. Here is an in depth look at how exactly each of these televisions worked.

Mechanical television

As mentioned earlier, the crucial part of a mechanical television is the rotating disk that transmits images one by one as it is being rotated. Both the transmitter and retriever would have the same setup. The disks were covered in holes around the edges that were evenly spaced around the disk. Each hole would be a little bit lower than the other.

The setup would require a very bright light in a very dark room. The light will be placed behind the disk. That disk will be spun by a mechanical motor with each revolution projecting an image on the screen.

Baird, the inventor used 30 holes in his invention and it would rotate 12.5 times per second. As an added enhancement, a lens was placed over the projector which was then hit by the bright light.

The first american television

America’s first television that was released in the market were some of Baird’s designs. They started to go on sale on September of 1928.

It would take a decade later however for the american electric television to hit the shelves.

The first remote control tv

The first ever tv remote was called the Tele Zoom. It barely suffices as a remote control however as it lacks most of the convenience and functions afforded to us by the modern television sets. It’s name is exactly the only thing that it does in that it zooms the screen as you press on it. It did, however, paved the way for the invention of the tv remote by introducing radio as a means with communicating with the television.

The first ever “real” remote control television was invented by Zenith and was released in 1955. This remote was capable of changing channels and turning television sets on and off. And with the work done by the Tele Zoom, they were able to make it all wireless.

The first television program

As you might have experienced, there are now thousands upon thousands of television shows to choose from. But the first ever television program that was broadcasted in a television was The Queen’s Messenger. It was shown by a television station, WRGB station in 1928. During its first airing there were barely anyone who had a television set thus there is quite a debate on who really holds the honor of being the first tv program.

Image Credits: television from Maxx-Studio /Shutterstock

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