The Evolution of the Television (1926 to 2010)
- 1926. On January 23, 1926. John Logie Baird (of Scotland) gave the world's first public demonstration of a mechanical television apparatus to approximately 40 members of the Royal Institution at his laboratory
on Frith Street. These were images of living human faces, not outlines or silhouettes, with complete tonal graduations of light and shade.
- 1927. Bell Telephone Labs and AT&T give a US public mechanical television demonstration over both wire and radio circuits. The demonstration was directed by Dr. Herbert Ives and Dr. Frank Gray. Pictures and
sound were sent by wire from Washington D.C., to New York City. A wireless demonstration also occurred 22 miles away, from Whippany, New Jersey, to New York City.
- 1932. The Jenkins Radio-TV Receiver - Model JD30 - unit provided only the sound and the electrical signal to drive a separate R-400 display unit. The R-400 display unit housed a motor-driven pinhole scanning disk
and neon lamp.
- 1936. Summer: The Berlin Olympics are televised by Telefunken (using RCA equipment) and Fernseh (using Farnsworth equipment). RCA gives its first television demonstration in four years. The system is all-electronic,
343 lines, 30 frames per second.
- 1937. Both the coronation of King George VI and the Wimbledon tennis tournament are televised in England. 9.000 sets sold.
- 1939. At the opening ceremonies of the World's Fair, FDR is the first president to be televised. TV sets go on sale next day. RCA (NBC) begin broadcasts on a daily basis. Approximately 19.000 television sets are
operating in England. Less than a few hundred in the USA.
- 1941. Broadcasting continued, with a few hours in the late afternoon and evening. No net sets were designed or built. In March, the NTSC recommended the standard of 525 lines and 30 frames per second be adopted
as the standard in the USA. July 1st - Commercial broadcasting finally authorized by the FCC to start on this date. NBC begins with a 10 second "Bulova" (watch) commercial. This first commercial, which simply showed
the face of a watch, gave the network a profit of $7.00. CBS, DuMont and others start commercials in the Fall. Pearl Harbor bombed. CBS televised news of attack. World War II begins for the US.
- 1942. All commercial production of television equipment is banned for the remainder of the war.
- 1946. The United States returns to peacetime production. The first televised heavyweight fight (Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn), viewed by a record 140.000 (mostly at bars which had sets installed). Only one year later,
the Louis-Walcott fight is viewed by 1.000.000 people. One of television's critics, Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th century Fox (movies) was quoted saying: "Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures
after sirst six months. People will soon get tired of starting at a plywood box every night". May 9th - Hourglass, the first hour-long musical variety show, airs over NBC's three stations (New York City, Schenectady and
Philadelphia). Approximately 10.000 units sold by the end of the year, with about 43.000 sold of this model before production ended in 1949.
- 1947. November 6th - Meet the Press premiers on NBC's local Washington station. Went network on Nov 20th. October 5th - Harry Truman becomes the first president to make an address to the public on TV from
the White House. He discusses the international food crisis, proposing meatless Tuesdays. December 29th - Howdy Doody Time begins its first broadcast on NBC. About 44.000 TV sets in the US, vs. 40 million radios.
May 7th - Kraft Television Theater starts on NBC, becoming the first commercial TV dramatic series. September 30 - First telecast of a World Series game. NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers.
- 1948. About two dozen different TV set models are on sale, ranging from Pilot's 3" set at $100 to Dumont's 20" set at $2.495 ($28.000 in todays money!). 27 stations in 18 different cities are in full operation. Television
production begins to rev-up. By July 1948, estimates are that 350.000 TV sets are in operation in the USA. 3/4 of these are in the eastern network cities, and half are around New York City. Only one in ten Americans
has seen a television set up to this point. Cable television originated in the United States almost simultaneously in Arkansas, Oregon and Pennsylvania in 1948 to enhance poor reception of over-the-air television signals in
mountainous or geographically remote areas. "Community antennas" were erected on mountain tops or other high points, and homes were connected to the antenna towers to receive the broadcast signals.
- 1949. By August, 2.000.000 sets in US, with 720.000 in New York City alone. RCA steps up the development of its all-electronic color system. Laws prohibiting the installation of TVs in automobiles are enacted.
- 1950. April - 5.343.000 TV sets are in American house. October - 8.000.000 TV sets - 107 stations.
- 1951. 13.000.000 television sets in the USA. September 4th - first coast-to-coast telecast (President Truman speaks).
- 1953. 50% of Americans now have a television set (25.233.000 homes). The first program to be broadcast in RCA electronic compatible color is the November 22nd showing of The Colgate Comedy Tour.
- 1954. Jan. 1st - the first national coast color cast takes place, with the broadcast of the "Tournament of Roses Parade" from Pasadena, California to 21 network stations. There were only 200 RCA electronic color
television sets (Model 5 - experimental) able to view the how. This is a acknowledged as the first day American television officially changed from black-and-white to color. First color commercial Mall cigarettes. RCA
launches color television, with the sale of the Ct-100, at $1.000 a copy. Less than 5.000 sell the first year.
- 1955. RCA sells 20.000 color TV sets - most are 21" models.
- 1959. 42.000.000 American homes have television, some have 2 sets already. September 12th: Bonanza becomes the first Western in color. RCA sells 90.000 color TV sets.
- 1961. January 20 - John F. Kennedy is the first US president to be sworn in, in a color telecast. NBA covers the inauguration in color.
- 1962. The 1st transatlantic reception of a television signal via the TELSTAR satellite. Almost 800 cable systems serving 850.000 subscribers were in business. Well-known corporate names like Wetinghouse,
TelePrompTer and Cox began investing in business.
- 1964. The monochrome plasma video display was co-invented in 1964 at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign by Donald Bitzer, H. Gene Slottow, and graduate student Robert Willson for the PLATO
Computer System. The original seon orange monochrome Digivue display panels built by glass producer Owens-Illinois were very popular in the early 1970s because they were rugged and neede neither memory nor
circuitry to refresh the images. A long period of sales decline occurred in the late 1970s because semiconductor memory made CTR displays cheaper than the USS2500 512 x 512 PLATO plasma displays. Nonetheless,
the plasma displays' relatively large screen size and 1 inch thickness made them suitable for high-profile placement in lobbies and stock exchanges.
- 1970. The introduction of efficient fiber optic cable in 1970 by Corning's Robert Maurer, Donald Heck, and Peter Schultz improved the delivery of television programming to American homes and businesses. These
transparent rods of glass or plastic are stretched so they are long and flexible and transmit information digitally using rapid pulses of light. This breakthrough work allowed cable to be created that could carry 65.000 times
more information than conventional copper wire. While cable was around in 1970, those living in the country still had to use antenna to receive television broadcasts. Arch Oboler states that Within a decade all movies will
be in three dimensions, supplanting the absurdity of 2D movies in a 3D world as the electric light supplanted the gaslight.
- 1972. Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin of Sterling Manhattan Cable launches the nation's first pay-TV network, Home Box Office (HBO). This venture led to the creation of a national satellite distribution system that
used a newly approved domestic satellite transmission. Half of all Americans have a color television. Philips Corporation introduced video cassette recording (VCR) for the home. The first domestic North American
satellite was Canada's gestational Anik 1, was launched. The first active-matrix liquid crystal display (LCD) panel was produced in the United States by Westinghouse, in Pittsburgh, PA.
- 1975. Home Box Office (HBO) launches on the service Electric cable system in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, delivered on videotape. Owned by Sterling Communications Hbo charges subscribers $8 a month - as much
as they pay for a basic tier of up to 12 channels. Under federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations designed to protect the terrestrial ("free") TV broadcast window, pay TV channels are allowed to buy
only films less than two or more than 10 years old. HBO bough right to live transmission of the "The Thrilla in Manila", the heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. While the broadcast
networks would have to wait a day or so for tapes of the fight to be flown in, subscribing cable viewers sat this historic fight as it was happening.
- 1976. Sony introduced the Betamax format of VCR in 1976 at a suggested retail price of $1.295.
- 1978. PBS was the 1st network to deliver all its programming via satellite instead of landlines.
- 1981. NHK, the Japanese National Broadcasting company, showed their 1.125 HDTV system to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers at their Winter conference in San Francisco. This was a major
breakthrough in the visual quality of television pictures because the sharpness of a television picture is a function of the number of lines per screen - the more lines the sharper and more vivid the image.
- 1984. From 1984 through 1992, the cable industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America, and billion more on program development. This was the largest private construction project since World War II.
- 1991. Primestar launched as the first North America DBS service.
- 1994. The Hughes DIRECTV Satellite System was launched. Those systems provided great pictures and stereo sound on 150-200 video and audio channels, and the small digital satellite TV dish era began in a serious
- 1996. EchoStar's Dish Network went online in the United States.
- 1997. Philips introduced a 42-inch (107 cm) display, with 852 x 480 resolution. It was the only plasma to be displayed to the retail public in 4 Sears locations in the US. The price was $14.999 and included in-home
installation. Fujitsu introduced the first 42-inch (107 cm) plasma display: it had 852 x 480 resolution and was progressively scanned. Netflix is established. It has amassed a collection of 100.000 titles on DVD and
surpassed 14 million subscribers. The company has more than 89 million discs and, on average, ships 2 million DVDs to consumers each day.
- 2004. The first commercial LED backlit LCD TV was the Sony Qualia 005. Sharp announced successful manufacture of a 65" panel. The Bluy-ray Disc specifications were completed.
- 2006. The first Blu-ray players were shipped in mid. June 2006. The first Blu-ray Disc titles were released on June 20: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, Underworld: Evolution , xXx
(all Sony), and MGM's The Terminator. Device including MediaFLO were first introduced by LG and Samsung at CES 2006 in Las Vegas.
- 2007. February 25, 2007, Netflix announced the billionth DVD delivery. In the 4Q of 2007 of the first time LCD televisions surpassed Plasma CRT units in worldwide sales as LCD televisions become more
popular. Verizon launches MediaFLO commercially as part of its V CAST offering on March 1, 2007, marketing the MediaFLO-specific technology/service as "VCAST TV".
- 2009. On April 2, 2009, Netflix announced that it had mailed its two billionth DVD, and awarded the recipient with a complimentary lifetime membership. Toshiba announced it would end production of HD DVD device,
allowing Blu-ray Disc to become the industry standard for high density optical discs. Pioneer Electronic announces it is ending production of plasma screens televisions - this is widely considered the tipping point in
that technology's history. In November 2009 FLO TV introduced the FLO TV Personal Television mobile device (model PTV-350). Measuring 3 inches by 4.4 inches by 0.5 inches and weighing just over 5 ounces, it has
a 3.5 inch capacitive touch screen.
- 2010. At the 2010 consumer electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, North America Panasonic introduced their 152" 2150 3D plasma.