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The Invention of Television



Vladimir Zworkin's Orthicon Camera Tube

Vladimir Zworkin's Orthicon Camera Tube

1831-1900 1901-1927 1928-1950 1951-present



The Federal Radio Commission issues the first television station license (W3XK) to Charles Jenkins.


Vladimir Zworkin demonstrates the first practical electronic system for both the transmission and reception of images using his new kinescope tube.

John Baird opens the first TV studio, however, the image quality was poor.


Charles Jenkins broadcasts the first TV commercial.

The BBC begins regular TV transmissions.


Iowa State University (W9XK) starts broadcasting twice weekly television programs in cooperation with radio station WSUI.


About 200 hundred television sets are in use world-wide.

The introduction of coaxial cable, which is a pure copper or copper-coated wire surrounded by insulation and an aluminum covering. These cables were and are used to transmit television, telephone, and data signals.

The first experimental coaxial cable lines were laid by AT&T between New York and Philadelphia in 1936. The first regular installation connected Minneapolis and Stevens Point, WI in 1941.

The original L1 coaxial-cable system could carry 480 telephone conversations or one television program. By the 1970's, L5 systems could carry 132,000 calls or more than 200 television programs.


CBS begins its TV development.

The BBC begins high definition broadcasts in London.

Brothers and Stanford researchers Russell and Sigurd Varian introduce the Klystron. A Klystron is a high-frequency amplifier for generating microwaves. It is considered the technology that makes UHF-TV possible because it gives the ability to generate the high power required in this spectrum.


Vladimir Zworkin and RCA conduct experimentally broadcasts from the Empire State Building.

Television was demonstrated at the New York World's Fair and the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition.

RCA's David Sarnoff used his company's exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair as a showcase for the 1st Presidential speech (Roosevelt) on television and to introduce RCA's new line of television receivers, some of which had to be coupled with a radio if you wanted to hear sound.

The Dumont company starts making tv sets.


Peter Goldmark invents a 343 lines of resolution color television system.


The FCC releases the NTSC standard for black and white TV.


Vladimir Zworkin developed a better camera tube called the Orthicon. The Orthicon (see photo right) had enough light sensitivity to record outdoor events at night.


Peter Goldmark, working for CBS, demonstrated his color television system to the FCC. His system produced color pictures by having a red-blue-green wheel spin in front of a cathode ray tube.

This mechanical means of producing a color picture was used in 1949 to broadcast medical procedures from Pennsylvania and Atlantic City hospitals. In Atlantic City, viewers could come to the convention center to see broadcasts of operations. Reports from the time noted that the realism of seeing surgery in color caused more than a few viewers to faint.

Although Goldmark's mechanical system was eventually replaced by an electronic system he is recognized as the first to introduce a broadcasting color television system.


Cable television is introduced in Pennsylvania as a means of bringing television to rural areas.

A patent was granted to Louis W. Parker for a low-cost television receiver.

One million homes in the United States have television sets.


The FCC approves the first color television standard which is replaced by a second in 1953.

Vladimir Zworkin developed a better camera tube called the Vidicon.

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