A History of Television and the Impact TV Had on the World

How many hours did you spend this week watching TV?

For many of us, the number is significant.

In a culture where binge-watching has become something akin to a national sport, it’s amazing the impact TV has on society.

The early days of television, however, were a far cry from what we know now.

The First Television Transmission

It was in 1926 that people witnessed the first-ever television transmission.

The witnesses comprised a small group of fascinated scientists watching images that were broadcast by the BBC.  

What they witnessed was a Yorkshire comedian named Sydney Howard performing a comic monologue and a woman named Lulu Stanley singing a song.

It wasn’t terribly illustrious.

Plus, the program was on a screen about half the size of the average smartphone. The images were extremely poor quality and the equipment to make the transmission possible was impossibly expensive. 

Reception was limited, to say the least. 

It would certainly be a long time before viewers were calling Comcast technical support to figure out why they’re cable wasn’t working. Cable wasn’t even conceivable.

Even so, it was the start of something huge.

The Inventors 

That first transmission took place in John Logie Baird’s studio in Covent Garden. 

As one of the inventors of mechanical television, Baird was a Scottish engineer, innovator, and would be one of the inventors of mechanical television.

He would later go on to invent the first purely electronic color television picture tube.

While seeking to develop electronic television receivers, Baird demonstrated his mechanical system to Philo Taylor Farnsworth – an American inventor.

Farnsworth would go on to invent the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device – better known as a video camera tube. He also invented the image dissector and would eventually create the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system.

From 1938 to 1951, Farnsworth developed a television system complete with receiver and camera. He produced commercially through his own company aptly called Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation.

The Impact TV Has Had on the World

By the 1940s, television was taking the world by storm.

This was especially true in the United States.

Television sets were too cost-prohibitive for most people to have at home. Rather, people would gather on sidewalks in front of stores that displayed a working television set or two.

Tavern owners knew that installing a television behind the bar almost guaranteed a full house. Sports events that had formerly attracted 30,000 or 40,000 spectators grew to have audiences numbering the millions.

In the following decades, television would influence the way that people thought about social issues such as gender, class, and race.

It would also play heavily in how the population perceived the political process and be a heavy hitter in shaping national election campaigns.

In essence, television helped to spread American culture around the world and help to facilitate a more global community.

The Wonderful World of Television

The impact TV has had on the world is undeniable. 

For better or worse, it was definitely a life-changing invention and it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like without it. 

So why bother?

When you’re done binge-watching your favorite series, be sure to check back in with us for other interesting and informative articles. 

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