When Was the First Television Broadcast?
The first public television demonstration or broadcast was given by the British inventor John Logie Baird (1888-1946) in 1926 at the Royal Institute in London. Twenty years earlier Baird had set up a small laboratory at Hastings to study the problems of “seeing by wireless”.
Experimental television broadcasts were made by the British Broadcasting Corporation between 1929 and 1935. The pictures were formed of only 30 to 100 lines and flickered badly. It was obvious that a method of high-definition, with more scanning lines, was badly needed.
Research in the United States made possible an increase to 343 lines, and other improvements quickly followed. In November, 1935, the first high-definition television service in the world began with the opening of a B.B.C station at Alexandra Palace, London, using 405 lines until 1964, but now uses the international 625-line standard.
The United States began regular television broadcasting in 1941, but the Second World War held back other countries, and television services did not become widespread until the 1950s. Although the first color television transmission was given by Baird in 1928, its use did not become general until 1954 in the United States, 1960 in Japan and 1967 in Britain, Germany, France, Russia and other countries.
Electronic television was first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1927. The system was designed by Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a 21-year-old inventor who had lived in a house without electricity until he was 14. While still in high school, Farnsworth had begun to conceive of a system that could capture moving images in a form that could be coded onto radio waves and then transformed back into a picture on a screen.
Boris Rosing in Russia had conducted some crude experiments in transmitting images 16 years before Farnsworth’s first success. Also, a mechanical television system, which scanned images using a rotating disk with holes arranged in a spiral pattern, had been demonstrated by John Logie Baird in England and Charles Francis Jenkins in the United States earlier in the 1920s.
However, Farnsworth’s invention, which scanned images with a beam of electrons, is the direct ancestor of modern television. The first image he transmitted on it was a simple line. Soon he aimed his primitive camera at a dollar sign because an investor had asked, “When are we going to see some dollars in this thing, Farnsworth?”
Few inventions have had as much effect on contemporary American society as television. Before 1947 the number of U.S. homes with television sets could be measured in the thousands. By the late 1990s, 98 percent of U.S. homes had at least one television set, and those sets were on for an average of more than seven hours a day.
The typical American spends (depending on the survey and the time of year) from two-and-a-half to almost five hours a day watching television. It is significant not only that this time is being spent with television but that it is not being spent engaging in other activities, such as reading or going out or socializing.
According to one survey, it was only in the 1990s that the spread of television transmitters, television sets, and electricity made it possible for half of the individuals in the world to watch television. However, television’s attraction globally is strong. Those human beings who have a television set watch it, by one estimate, for an average of two-and-a-half hours a day.