By Amanda Pape
Television has become one of the most leading forms of media in the world. A device once found only in the living rooms of people’s homes can now be accessed almost anywhere. So where did it all begin? The idea of the television traces back as early as the 1820’s, but it was not until much later that this idea turned into a reality. Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, a German University student, introduced the concept of an electromechanical television system 1884. This system consisted of rotating disks, called Nipkow disks, that had holes arranged in a spiral patter on the outside of them. Although a prototype of this system was not built, it became the basis of television experiments, which began in the 1920s. The first demonstration of an electronic television was in 1927 by Taylor Farnsworth. Several other inventors experimented with similar designs during this time as well. The first successful electronic television set, consisting of 5 by 12 inch picture tubes, was developed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and premiered in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair (Textbook, page 427).
Over the decades, television became more and more advanced. In its early stages, television started out as something very basic. Programs were shot with very few cameras and poor lighting and not only was the picture in black and white, but it was also very blurry due to lack of technology. The few things that were aired were sports events like baseball games, or short 15 minute newscasts, known as “Chalk Talks.” Since cable TV was not yet invented, only those who lived within close range of TV stations could actually access television. The growth of television came to a pause when the US entered World War II because most broadcasting companies turned their attention to production for the military. It was not until after this that the real growth of television started. In the 1960’s, the availability of color TV’s grew at a rapid pace. At first, TV productions were based on radio dramas and stage productions but this quickly changed as young writers began emerging and writing new shows. New comedy productions soon began quickly emerging during what came to be known as the “Golden Era” of television. These comedy shows became models for later television shows (Textbook, page 427).
The emergence of cable television in the mid 1970’s significantly increased the amount of channels and genres available (textbook, page 429). Today on television you can find hundreds of channels with news, politics, sports, reality shows, contest shows, dramas, and basically anything you can think of. The technology of the television itself has also improved significantly from small, blurry, black and white screens, to now screens as big as 85 inches with bright picture in High Definition. With the emergence of the Web 2.0 era in the past decade, television has become more readily available to users on the internet. Streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime allow users to watch their favorite TV shows and movies at any time for just a small monthly fee. With websites like these, Web 2.0 systems could possibly replace cable in the distant future. With technology constantly emerging, in 10-20 years, television will be even more readily available to users.