How Old Is This Television ?

In its early stages of development, television employed a combination of optical, mechanical and electronic technologies to capture, transmit and display a visual image. By the late 1920s, however, those employing only optical and electronic technologies were being explored. All modern television systems rely on the latter, although the knowledge gained from the work on mechanical-dependent systems was crucial in the development of fully electronic television.

The first time images were transmitted electrically were via early mechanical fax machines, including the pantelegraph, developed in the late 1800s. The concept of electrically-powered transmission of television images in motion, was first sketched in 1878 as the telephonoscope, shortly after the invention of the telephone . At the time, it was imagined by early science fiction authors, that someday that light could be transmitted over wires, as sounds were.

The idea of using scanning to transmit images was put to actual practical use in 1881 in the pantelegraph, through the use of a pendulum-based scanning mechanism. From this period forward, scanning in one form or another, has been used in nearly every image transmission technology to date, including television. This is the concept of "rasterization", the process of converting a visual image into a stream of electrical pulses.

In 1884 Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, a 20-year old university student in Germany, patented the first electromechanical television system which employed a scanning disk, a spinning disk with a series of holes spiraling toward the center, for rasterization. The holes were spaced at equal angular intervals such that in a single rotation the disk would allow light to pass through each hole and onto a light-sensitive selenium sensor which produced the electrical pulses. As an image was focused on the rotating disk, each hole captured a horizontal "slice" of the whole image, in a scanning fashion.

Nipkow's design would not be practical until advances in amplifier tube technology became available in 1907. Even then the device was only useful for transmitting still "halftone" images - represented by equally spaced dots of varying size - over telegraph or telephone lines. Later designs would use a rotating mirror-drum scanner to capture the image and a cathode ray tube (CRT) as a display device, but moving images were still not possible, due to the poor sensitivity of the selenium sensors.

Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the transmission of moving silhouette images in London in 1925, and of moving, monochromatic images in 1926. Baird's scanning disk produced an image of 30 lines resolution, just enough to discern a human face, from a double spiral of lenses. Remarkably, in 1927 Baird also invented the world's first video recording system, "Phonovision" -- by modulating the output signal of his TV camera down to the audio range he was able to capture the signal on a 10-inch wax audio disc using conventional audio recording technology. A handful of Baird's 'Phonovision' recordings survive and these were finally decoded and rendered into viewable images in the 1990s using modern digital signal-processing technology.

In 1926, Hungarian engineer Kálmán Tihanyi invented the entirely electronic camera tube and entirely electronic display and the transmitting and receiving system.

By 1927, Russian inventor Léon Theremin developed a mirror drum-based television system which used interlacing to achieve an image resolution of 100 lines.

Also in 1927, Herbert E. Ives of Bell Labs transmitted moving images from a 50-aperture disk producing 16 frames per minute over a cable from Washington, DC to New York City, and via radio from Whippany, New Jersey. Ives used viewing screens as large as 24 by 30 inches (60 by 75 centimeters). His subjects included Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover.

In 1928, Philo Farnsworth made the world's first working television system with electronic scanning of both the pickup and display devices, which he first demonstrated to news media on 1 September 1928, televising a motion picture film.

The first practical use of television was in Germany. Regular television broadcasts began in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic games in Berlin were broadcast to television stations in Berlin and Leipzig where the public could view the games live.

In 1936, Kálmán Tihanyi described the principle of Plasma Television, the first flat panel.

 

 

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