The Evolution of Television

Can you believe TV has been around for 87 years? It’s come a long way in that time – particularly over the past twenty years or so. Read on to find out more…

The evolution of television

In 1926 Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated his invention, which showed moving images on a screen. Television as we know it was born and the rest, as they say, is history. But what a history!

Here’s a potted look at television’s timeline – a process that’s taken us from theoretical ideas and mechanical contraptions right through to advanced technologies and global communication networks.


The early days

Baird is largely credited as being TV’s inventor but the Scot didn’t work in a vacuum and towards the end of the 19th century into the beginning of the 20th, many contributed to the invention. Figures such as German university student Paul Nipkow, who in 1884 patented plans for the first electromechanical television set but never built it, and Lee DeForest and Arthur Korn, who were instrumental in the development of amplification tube technology, all played major parts in these initial stages.

This all culminated with Baird demonstrating his working television to a reporter and members of the Royal Institution in London on January 26, 1926. TV was out and very early on a fast pace of development was set. Within years, transatlantic broadcasts had been made and the technology advanced at break-neck speed.


The move to color

In the early days, right through the mid-20th century, TV’s were largely black and white affairs. Baird had made a color broadcast in 1928 but the application was extremely simple meaning the quality of the final image was poor. Black and white broadcasting was an easier avenue to follow and so became the standard format.

However, as major increases in popularity and resolution continued the appetite for better quality, color transmissions grew and by the forties, many major broadcasters were experimenting with the technology. In 1950, in the US, the network CBS started broadcasting an hour of color TV a day through selected networks, starting the new technological rush.

Again it didn’t take long for the system to take hold in society. As the technology behind color TVs developed and became more widespread, costs came down and for decades the process was one of refinement. National and local broadcasters offered TV signals, broadcast over the airwaves, and picked up by increasingly sophisticated sets. The next big step occurred when those TV companies took off – literally…


The satellite impact

Satellites have been used for communications and broadcast purposes for over 50 years but it was in the 90s that satellite TV as we know it really took off as homes across the world started sporting little dishes that could pick up signals from the edge of space.

Suddenly an entirely new world of global programming was made available to consumers, while businesses started to benefit from services such as broadcast playout which utilizes this new technology. The satellite age was born and quickly became enormously popular, with broadcast networks laying a web of transmission across the planet.


The internet and flat-screens

The latest technological leaps have been just as dramatic as those earlier endeavors with truly-world changing implications. In terms of the domestic household, the introduction of LED, LCD, and plasma-screen technology saw flat, wide screens with pinpoint high definition images becoming the industry norm as the traditional, bulky vacuum tubes quickly became obsolete.

Technology is developing at a remarkable rate. Bigger screens, higher resolutions, and 3D capabilities have all become available and that’s just the start. Just recently the TV company LG announced that it had started producing sets using OLED screens which are thin enough to be used in curved displays.

The introduction and popularisation of the internet have also had a massive impact on the development of TV. Working in conjunction with communication networks, the internet is now a massively important conduit for information, and online, streamed TV services are becoming more popular. Smart TVs are latching on to the potential of this development, integrating web technology to seamlessly blend broadcast with online experiences.

The rate of progress shows no signs of slowing down – if anything it’s getting faster! The future for TV certainly looks bright.

What do you think the future holds for TV?

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