Evolution Of Television

Television is being watched since the 20th century and till today it has evolved with the best features of the modern world. People all around the world including elderly, youngsters, and children spend a valuable amount of their time to watch their favorite programs on television. In the beginning, it was just a simple setting where people were only exposed to few channels and even in some countries there were times during which the broadcasting occurred. Today, television is playing a major role in the communication process through media and it has been extended to broader categories (Barnouw, 1990).

18th -19th Century

The pioneers of television speculated that the separation of audio waves from the electromagnetic spectrum led to the creation of radio, then similarly, the visual images could also be displayed by separating the waves of television. In the late 19th century, George Grey, a Boston civil servant gave the vision of the television system and he came up with his drawings of selenium camera; which has the ability to display pictures, images with the help of connection to the electrical energy source (Evans, 2001).

Electronics Takeback

Cathode Ray Tube

Karl Braun invented the cathode ray tube in the late 1800’s and later on, it served as the forerunner of the image tube for the television. The cathode ray oscilloscope was the scanning device which utilized the features of the camera and the electricity for the production of images and voice like the radio. The beam of electrons when struck the light produced images and pictures on the fluorescent screen. The mechanical scanner system was the invention of the 18th century as well which scanned the perforations on the metallic disk and then arranged them in the form of a continuous pattern in the spiral form.

The television frame was produced by the mechanical scanner and the disk rotated continuously and these continuous rotations combined with the scanned lines and the number of the perforations producing the frame. Boris Rosing utilized the systems of the mechanical scanner and cathode ray tube to develop the experimental system of television. The electron beams were focused with the receiver of cathode ray tube which displayed images and transmitted the crude patterns of geometrical figures in the form of images on the television screen. On the other hand, the mechanical disk system was used as the replacement to the camera for the display of images on the primitive television screens (Wagner, 2011).


Radio Replacement

Radio was the source of information of media and current affairs including entertainment until the mid-20th century. Television was a replacement of the radio and it played an integral role in the life of people and it was quite difficult to imagine that a box which screens producing voice and showing images could be the invention of technology. Since then, it has played an important role in the reflection and shaping of the customs, traditions, and cultural values in the people. They have developed their cultures according to those which are portrayed by the media on television. Television has covered major events all around the world and it has been a source of information for people (Gupta, Jain, & Sawhney, 1999).

Black and White Television

In the year 1939, the television was like a box which displayed images in black and white colors only and it was the first television in America. It was an exhibit which was sponsored by RCA during the event of New York World’s Fair. The brochures were distributed all around when the first show from television was broadcasted and they described that it was the next form of radio with images which was the contribution towards entertainment a home (Evans, 2001).


Early Broadcasting

In early 1928, the television broadcasting was authorized by the Federal Radio Commission and Charles Jenkins was the one who first broadcasted the experimental station in Washington. The general public was provided the broadcast of silhouette images in the form of continuous pictures in the form of a film, though the resolution was only of 48 lines. The inaugural shows of the New York World Fair were telecasted on their opening ceremonies. The audience of around 5000 to 8000 showed up at the broadcasting in New York (Barnouw, 1990).

The fraction size in which the televisions were available in 5, 9, and 12-inch screens and these were the most modern of that time in 1930’s. As mentioned earlier, during the World War II, restrictions and bans were implemented on the sale of television and the companies stored their manufactured television sets and they were later sold at higher prices when the war ended. The Federal Communication Commission, defined their standards for the broadcasting of the shows on television and they proposed that the 525-line system which had the capacity of displaying 30 frames in a second were the standardized analog operation system and the analog signals were later on replaced by the digital signals in the form of binary codes in the year 2009 (Gupta, Jain, & Sawhney, 1999).


Cable Television

The cable television began with the community antenna television and in simple terms, it was also termed as the dish. In 1948 it originated in America and later on in 1952 in Canada. The television provides video transmissions through the coaxial cable and was mostly used in rural areas. Till the year 1959, Canada extended its network cross-country with the closed and combined network of microwave relay stations (Ning, 2013).

Electronic and Mechanical Television

The experiments during the early advancements in the visual transmissions electronic and mechanical televisions. The pioneer of mechanical television was John Baird and was developed from the Nipkow disk system. In 1926, the mechanical television was demonstrated for the first time for the public with the use of mechanical rotating disks which scanned the moving images in the form of electrical impulses. The electrical impulses play their role by displaying the images on the screen with the cable.

The images were displayed in the form of light and dark colors in a low resolution and the first program which aired on the television was of two dummies and the camera was set according to the level of sight of the audience. It was a challenge for the engineers to display the images because they were only limited to 240 lines of resolution and the images were fuzzy (Barnouw, 1990). The electronic television system was based on the model of cathode ray tube and Idaho Farnsworth was the inventor of the system. According to his theory, the electron beam could be used to scan the picture in the form of horizontal lines and the image was produced just instantly.

Herc Hastings

In his first demonstration, he used the electronic television by using the technique of rotation on the painted glass in the form of a single straight line. During the World War II the sale of televisions was banned by the government, but later on, the modifications by the RCA were used and the broadcasting quality of images improved producing a picture quality of high resolution.The mechanical televisions were replaced by the electronic ones because the image quality of the latter one was better than the former.

The electronic televisions not only produced better quality images and pictures, but they also had a compact size, produced no noise, and they had few limitations in their visual display. In the year 1939, the mechanical televisions were completely replaced by the electronic televisions and the broadcasts of the important programs were done on the electronic systems (Evans, 2001).

Color Televisions

The technology advancements in 1904 proposed the color display on television although it could not be practiced and broadcasted till the 1950s and they weren’t popular enough till the 1960s. finally, in 1928, the first experiment for the color demonstration was done by John Braid and he used the Nipkow scanning disk which had three spirals with each spiral having the three primary colors; red, blue, and green. The camera lens was used for the display of the colors on the mechanical televisions and the National Television System Committee put their efforts to develop the color system in the electronic television systems and they made the systems compatible with the older black and whiter versions after the approval from the Federal Communication Commission in the year 1953.

Old Technology

Until the year 1972, the colored televisions were still not able to spread in a populous community and the people who owned the traditional black and white televisions were still far more than those who had colored television. The colored televisions still required time for their spread in a broader community around the world (Gupta, Jain, & Sawhney, 1999).

Golden Age

The time of 1970’s is termed as the golden age of television because in this year the number of people who owned television sets rose to 95.3% than the 9% of people in 1950. The growth in the popularity of television occurred and the mass productions of the television sets in the industries led to substantially low costs of purchase due to high production demand. The industries aimed at providing television sets to the masses of people and it was evident from the number of houses which owned television which was less than 10,000 in America during 1945, but in 1950 the number was increased the 6 million (Barnouw, 1990). The programs which were aired on the television were basically in two formats; the one was the television spectator, which played the role of gaining a majority of the community in the increase of network growth, and the magazine format; which displayed the events and news from the local and international communities.

Stock Snap

The duration of the shows on the radio was 15 minutes, but on television, the shows were of 30 minutes and some even crossed half an hour limit. The time frame of 30-60 seconds was given to the advertisers to run their advertisements so that they can sponsor and sell their product with the use of technology of television (Ning, 2013).

Cable Television

The cable television was previously known as the Community Antenna Television (CATV). In the 1940s the cable television was formerly developed and it spread to mountainous areas like Oregon, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania. The antennas were set on higher points at the homes, at mountains, or the towers which connected them to the signals of the broadcast. Later on in 1950’s the cable operation system was spread and the microwave signals were used to spread and receive the signals from even distant cities. The local community was provided with services and the consumers were offered the choice of different wide ranged programs according to their demands. The subscribers of the cable system in 1962 were about 850,000 and they attracted not only people of urban areas, but the cable operation spread to rural areas as well (Evans, 2001).

Terry Fabrics

Digital Television

 In the 1940s the Federal Communication Commission authorized the television sets to air the programs from the analog systems which were basically made of the radio waves. The analog signals were received by the television sets by airwaves, satellite transmissions, and by the cable wires, but it had limitations of the distorted image, static pictures, and poor picture quality and thus it was replaced by the digital systems of television. The companies around the world and especially Japan began their advancements in the digital system and the consumers were provided with the images in the form of binary codes by the operating systems in the digital system. The companies also offered discounts to the consumers on the newly developed digital systems to promote them (Barnouw, 1990).

High Definition Television

During the time when the analog systems were replaced and were being converted to the digital systems, the companies in Japan were working to develop the digital systems in a better manner to provide high definition display of pictures on a wide screen. Today, the size of the television sets are not limited to 5 or 9 inches, instead of the purchase of LCD’s which offer highly defined picture quality in 12, 24, 32, and even 72-inch large screens. They have the display of pictures on the screen with more than 5 pixels in each frame.

Stock Snap

Although the quality comes with a quantity at price and thus the prices of the HDTV have increased, but the companies are working to make the prices affordable in the next coming years (Gupta, Jain, & Sawhney, 1999).

3-Dimensional Television

In 2010, the traditions changed from the 2-dimensional display to 3-D display of pictures on the television. The consumers just need to have the 3-D glasses and their experience of watching TV changes completely. They offer the content in 3 dimensions and the consumers are able to perceive the image in its height, width, and even depth. It is just like the display in the real world. The standards have changed and now people are moving towards the reality and virtual systems. Stereoscopic imaging is being used for the display in 3 dimensions and the viewers can interpret the difference in objects by accommodating, focusing, and integrating the images providing a better display (Evans, 2001).

Smart Television

The technology advancements are not letting the consumers’ just stay in place instead they are moving ahead with passing time. The smart televisions which have been developed recently in the 21st century are the customized televisions which have the facility of connection to the internet and they make the consumer able to watch programs in their free hours.

televisionStock Snap

The smart TV’s offer the feature of pausing and recording as well, so the consumers can record their favorite programs and then watch it when they want. They have built-in web browsers and applications which provide a customized view (Barnouw, 1990).


Barnouw, E. (1990). Tube of plenty: The evolution of American television. Oxford University


Evans, D. S. (2001). The Online Advertising Industry: Economics, Evolution, and Privacy.

Gupta, S., Jain, D. C., & Sawhney, M. S. (1999). Modeling the Evolution of Markets with

Indirect Network Externalities: An Application to Digital Television. Marketing Science, 18(3), 396-416.

Lohr, L. (1940). Television Broadcasting. New York: McGraw Hill

Ning, J. (2013). CCTV-9’s coverage of the Iraq War and the evolution of English language

television news in China (Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University-Graduate School-New Brunswick).

Wagner, B. (2011). “I Have Understood You”: The Co-evolution of Expression and Control

on the Internet, Television and Mobile Phones During the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.

Featured Image Credits: Wallpaper Safari

Leave a Reply

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑