We explain and summarize the history of television and how it evolved. Also, what are its characteristics and its golden age.

television historytelevision history
The history of television began at the end of the 19th century and continues to this day.

Television history

The history of television covers the series of scientific discoveries, technological advances and industrial bets that resulted in television. It includes innovations in the design, conception, manufacture and distribution of televisions. It also implied the development of the television programming stations that feed them with programming to this day.

This technology It has been incorporated into our homes for decades throughout the world. For this reason, nobody needs to explain what television is today.

However, few know that a television operates as a terminal for receiving information sent by cable, satellite or hertzian waves, which provides a specific pattern of points of light that are displayed on the screen (the pixels). This generates an image and a sensation of its movement, accompanied by a synchronized sound sequence.

See also: History of the cell phone

television background

Antique phoneAntique phone
The telephone was invented in 1854 by Antonio Meucci.

In order for the first steps in television to take place, the following technological breakthroughs had to be achieved first:

  • Photography and cinema. The first successes in conserving images and putting them in motion were achieved during the 19th century, when the photographic technique achieved its first daguerreotypes and long-exposure photographs in light, using techniques that were modernized until, at the end of the century, they allowed The first moving images were captured and reproduced: a long series of photographs that follow one another at a constant speed, giving the impression of movement. This is how the cinema was born.
  • The phone. The ability to transmit the human voice encoded in electrical impulses was the foundation for the appearance of the telephone, invented in 1854 by Antonio Meucci but popularized by Alexander Graham Bell after 1876.
  • Radio. The transmission of electromagnetic waves through the manipulation of electric and magnetic fields was made possible at the end of the 19th century thanks to the experiences and theories of Maxwell, Hertz, Tesla and Marconi. This allowed the development of a wireless telegraph, which, taking advantage of the advances of Bell Laboratories regarding telephony, produced the first radio devices.
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origin of television

the history of television Begins with the invention of the Nipkow disc in 1884: a device that consisted of a metal disk and a light source, which was used to project the light projected by objects onto selenium sheets.

It was a first attempt to capture moving images, although it failed to be effectively put into practice. But it served for the development of the first television systems at the beginning of the 20th century.

The first successful television experience occurred in 1925, when the Scotsman John Logie Baird managed to synchronize two Nipkow discs, attached to the same axis. Using one as a transmitter and one as a receiver, he effectively transmitted the image of a mannequin head at 14 frames per second.

The experience replied to the Royal Institution in London in 1926. In 1927 Baird managed to transmit the same image over 438 miles, using a telephone cable. In 1928 he did it again, this time from London to New York, over the airwaves.

This technology was used in the first television broadcasts. The name that had already begun to appear since the beginning of the 20th century, when the Russian scientist Constantin Perskyi proposed it during the first International Electricity Congress.

television evolution

television historytelevision history
In 1931 Vladimir Zvorykin invented the iconoscope in the RCA laboratories.

The first marketable television reception apparatus was created in 1926. and it was the work of the Scotsman Baird. It consisted of a mechanical device, as we have explained before. This format was marketed between 1928 and 1934 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the USSR.

It was about radios that featured a neon tube behind a Nipkow record, which produced an image the size of a postage stamp, magnified by a lens twice its size. Since 1929, the mechanical sweep of 240 lines, which substantially improved the performance of the apparatus.

In 1931 Vladimir Zvorykin invented the iconoscope. in the RCA laboratories. It was an electronic tube that made it possible to replace all other television systems, thanks to an electronic mosaic made up of thousands of independent photoelectric cells in three thin layers. This advance revolutionized the industry and allowed the appearance of electric television.

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Subsequently, In 1934, the cathode ray tube system appeared. (CRT), which achieved better resolutions and speeds. This was the work of Telefunken in Germany, and soon had versions in the main world powers. Before the Second World War some 19,000 sets had been sold in the UK and about 1,600 in Germany.

The first television broadcast

The very first television broadcast was made by Baird himself in his laboratory, but it was only for promotional or demonstration purposes. In 1927 the BBC produced the first programming broadcasts, which was not broadcast on a regular schedule. In 1930 the first simultaneous transmission of audio and image in black and white was made.

The first television station was created in 1931, in Germany., at the home of Manfred von Ardenne. Regular broadcasts began in Paris in 1932, although the image quality did not exceed 60 lines and was in black and white.

To receive the first television broadcasts with scheduled programming, one would have to wait until 1936 in England, or 1939 in the United States. The first regular electronic TV transmissions occurred in 1937 in France and England.

The golden age of television

television historytelevision history
In the mid-20th century, television sets and recording studios proliferated.

The golden age of this medium took place in the middle of the 20th century, when it began to spread throughout the world and various broadcast stations emerged in each of the countries of the world. In 1953 Eurovisión was created to connect the stations of European countries via microwave, and in 1960 Mundovisión was created, in an attempt to do the same on a global scale.

In this period TV arrived in Latin America and became extremely popular. Consequently, the first national stations in each country were founded and what would later become large private television consortiums, such as Televisa, were born.

Color television

television historytelevision history
The adaptation of televisions to color was completed in the 1970s.

Although color broadcasting had been experimented with from the beginning, using colored filters to tint the images, color television did not come to fruition until much later. The first step was taken in 1940: the Mexican Guillermo González Camarena a sequential trichromatic system.

Eight years later, the American Peter Goldmark used that system to develop a similar one. That is how in 1948 the Sequential System of Fields was bornwhich was successful and was employed by the Columbia Broadcasting System.

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However, it took a long time to adapt this system to work on the millions of monochrome televisions already sold, which took its first steps in 1950. The adaptation of televisions to color was completed in the 1970salthough monochrome televisions continued to exist much longer.

Consequences of his popularity

This technology quickly conquered the homes of the world, largely displacing radio as a favorite way to get information or around which to gather the family.

The result was a significant gain in news immediacy and a greater burden of power and responsibility in the media. From then on they had a very intimate reach in homes, and the television became one of the main household appliances.

Satellite television

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Satellite television requires the installation of receiving antennas.

The development of space technology and satellites allowed television to turn around globally. The use of satellites to reception and sending of television broadcasts via microwave facilitated its distribution, making it more agile, fast and effective over wide geographical areas.

This too allowed access to foreign programming through paid subscriptions. These required the installation of satellite dishes on the roof of buildings: bulky and dangerous artifacts that were quickly replaced by smaller and local variants, installed in apartment windows.

digital television

Starting in the 1980s, television began to take its first steps towards digitization, driven by the digital revolution that the appearance of computers brought about. This technology Allowed for greater data transmission capacitybetter resolution and harnessing all the processing power of the computerized world.

Digitization was applied both to the production of video and its transmission, both by satellite, cable and terrestrial radio frequency. Currently, television can be watched on computers equipped for it and through Internet platforms such as YouTube, both live and recorded.

The future of television

television historytelevision history
Television could be reinvented according to the mode of consumption 2.0.

The future of television is uncertain, but in many ways points to the Internet and the world of networks. The replacement of televisions by computer screens is an ongoing trend, so it is possible to assume that television will be reinvented according to the 2.0 mode of consumption, that is, more personal, more interactive and more multimedia.


  • “History of Television” on Wikipedia.
  • “The history of television” (video) in Draw my Life.
  • “Evolution of television 1920-2020” (video) in Captain Gizmo.
  • “Television Broadcasting, History Of” at Encyclopedia.com.

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