Vladimir K. Zworykin demonstrates first practical set
Many scientists contributed to the development of television, and no one person can be called its inventor. Television became possible in the 1800's, when people learned how to send communication signals through the air as electromagnetic waves. This process is called radio communication.
The first radio operators sent code signals through the air. By the early 1900's, operators could transmit words. Meanwhile, many scientists had conducted experiments involving the transmission of pictures. As early as 1884, Paul Gottlieb Nipkow of Germany had invented a scanning device that sent pictures short distances. His system worked mechanically, rather than electronically as television does. In 1922, Philo T. Farnsworth of the United States developed an electronic scanning system. In 1925, John Logie Baird, a Scottish engineer, gave the first public demonstration of a mechanical television system. Vladimir K. Zworykin, a Russian-born American scientist, invented the iconoscope and the kinescope in 1923. The iconoscope was the first television camera tube suitable for broadcasting. The kinescope is the picture tube used in TV receivers. Zworykin demonstrated the first completely electronic, practical television system in 1929.
Many experimental telecasts took place in the late 1920's and the 1930's. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Britain, and CBS and NBC in the United States were leaders in experimental telecasts. World War II and the economic problems that followed the war caused the BBC to abandon TV experiments. The United States moved far ahead of the rest of the world in TV broadcasting.
In 1936, the Radio Corporation of America (later RCA Corporation), which owned NBC, installed television receivers in 150 homes in the New York City area. NBC's New York station began experimental telecasts to these homes. A cartoon of Felix the Cat was its first program. NBC established the first regular TV broadcasts in the United States in 1939. The United States entered World War II in 1941. Television broadcasting was suspended until after the war ended in 1945.
The national networks -- all based in New York City -- resumed broadcasting shortly after the war. At first, their telecasts reached only the Eastern Seaboard between Boston and Washington, D.C. But by 1951, they extended coast-to-coast. TV stations sprang up throughout the country. Entertainment, news, special events, and sports contests replaced the simple, largely experimental, prewar shows.
The American people became fascinated with the idea of having so wide a range of visual events available in their homes. The demand for TV sets became enormous. In 1945, there were probably fewer than 10,000 sets in the country. This figure soared to about 6 million in 1950, and to almost 60 million by 1960. In TV's early days, people who had no set often visited friends who had one just to watch television. Also, many stores placed television sets in windows, and crowds gathered on the sidewalk to watch programs.
SOURCE: IBM 1999 WORLD BOOK
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