Evolution of TV Technology


It’s nearly impossible to specify any one person who invented the television. It’s also difficult to nail down a timeline detailing when a particular television technology reigned supreme. That’s because, from the very beginning, television has been a collaborative effort incorporating many technologies and minds.

Throughout its history, there have been a few technologies that have survived the test of time and continue to broadcast entertainment, news and more to people all over the world.

The first rudimentary televisions were mechanical. They used rotating disks to create a moving image. A German inventor named Paul Nipkow came up with the process of using rotating disks to project a moving picture. He called it the “electric telescope.” A

This technology wasn’t a sustainable option for broadcasting on a large scale. An electronic method was more widely adopted a few decades later. Electronic television technology became the building blocks for the evolution of TV throughout the coming years.

At first, radio companies like RCA used a microwave relay system and television receivers – some of which could be coupled with a radio if you wanted to hear sound. B Radio signals were broadcast to a receiving antenna (also known as “rabbit ears”) on the television set.

This microwave relay system was introduced by Western Union in 1945, and was widely adopted. It was cheap and easy to distribute, so by the 1970s, these stations carried most TV traffic. C

Around the same time, another broadcast technology was emerging that would eventually outperform the traditional microwave relay system. Coaxial cable – a precursor to cable television, was introduced in an experimental capacity in 1941. D It could carry larger amounts of programming, making it a popular option for television viewers.

Cable television was introduced in 1948, in the same decade (known as the Golden Age) as these other popular broadcasting methods. It was mainly used as a redistribution method until the 1960s. E

After the Golden Age, television technology innovation slowed, but it never stopped. In 1962, the first reception of a television signal over the Atlantic Ocean was achieved via the TELSTAR satellite. The transmission was from Andover, MN to Pleumeur-Bodou, France. F

Program delivery was further improved in the 1970s, with the introduction of fiber-optic cables. These cables, created from bundles of thin glass or plastic rods, allowed cable to be created that could carry 65,000 times more information than conventional copper wire. G

Today, people living in serviceable areas can access fiber-optic TV, which offers high-definition channels at roughly the same speeds as cable. And with broadband Internet speeds, offered by cable companies and fiber-optic companies, consumers can stream online video content on their TVs, computers, smartphones or tablets.


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This post was written by the Beacon team.

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