The History of Television, Part 1 |
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The History of Television, Part 1

Vintage TV ScreenWho invented television?

This is one of those questions with no short answer – television's invention was a protracted process of trial and error that spanned the globe as it spanned years. Over the course of several decades in the 19th and 20th centuries, scientists around the world were making breakthroughs in image transmission, and each contribution became a stepping stone toward the invention that changed the course of human culture forever. Here's a timeline of television's early development, including P.C. Richard & Son's journey in joining the television revolution!


German inventor Paul Gottleib Nipkow patents a mechanical device called the Nipkow disk. It was a flat circle that rapidly spun and scanned images into a receiver through a series of punctures around the disk's center. While a spinning disk with holes in it may not seem terribly exciting – especially since it became obsolete in the 1940's – it was paramount in laying the groundwork for television as we know it.


At the International World Fair in Paris, Russian scientist Constantin Perskyi becomes the first person in history to use the word "television" in a paper about recent developments in image transmission.


While experimenting with image systems in his laboratory, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird transmits the first grayscale television image: A ventriloquist dummy's head, chosen because of its high contrast. Thankfully, Baird soon moved on to less-creepy subjects.


Japanese engineer Kenjiro Takayanagi successfully transmits a 40-line-resolution image of the Japanese character "イ" by means of a Nipkow disk and a cathode ray tube. Up until that time, televisions were completely mechanical, and this was the first time a television image was created by combining mechanical and electric components.

Felix the Cat on Early NBC1928

W2XB in Schenectady, New York, begins airing test broadcasts as the world's first television station. The channel was soon airing daily programs, and it still exists today as WRGB. Also in 1928, the New York City channel W2XBS – later known as NBC – began experimenting with its broadcast abilities. Their first on-air talent? A Felix the Cat doll rotating on a turntable.


American scientist Philo Farnsworth gives a public demonstration of the first completely electric television, made possible by his newly-invented image dissector tube. Not only was this a huge breakthrough in television technology – it led to the emergence of television's nickname "The Tube."


Although he has no televisions to sell due to their prohibitively expensive cost, A.J. Richard installs a television with a 10" screen in the window of his Ozone Park store. It becomes a major neighborhood hub, attracting crowds of people on the sidewalk every Friday night to watch boxing matches.


Due to World War II, production of televisions in the U.S. is completely suspended. However, A.J.'s experience with his storefront television convinced him of the promise of this amazing innovation, and he vowed that his store would give the public exactly what they wanted as soon as televisions were being manufactured once again.


U.S. production of televisions resumes, and A.J. Richard immediately jumps on the opportunity to be a part of the Next Big Thing in household technology. P.C. Richard & Son's location played an important part in its success with television, as New York City was one of only a handful of major US cities that had operating television stations at the time. In 1948, two-thirds of the 102,000 U.S. households with televisions were located in the New York metropolitan area.

Family Watching TV in 19581958

The percentage of television ownership in the U.S. skyrockets to 83.2%, up from 0.4% just ten years earlier. No technology in history had spread so far in such a short period of time, and a new era of entertainment had begun!


From the moment television hit the mainstream, P.C. Richard & Son was there to deliver it. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest innovations in television and beyond is what keeps P.C. Richard & Son at the top of our game in offering the latest technology at the best prices. Looking to upgrade the Tube in your home? Shop our fantastic selection of televisions now! 


Image Credits: 1, 2

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