The History of Television

By: Chris Zelante


While TV is seen as an essential part of our every day lives today, it was not always that way. Before the days of twenty-four hour news coverage and reality shows that made people from the Jersey shore look like scum, television was a more simple and innovative way that people received news, entertainment, and everyday information. Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, a German student, created the original Television in the late 1800’s. This simple creation was called the “electric telescope” and had about 18 lines of resolution. Not long after that an American inventor named Charles Jenkins used similar technology and concepts as Nipkow to create the first mechanical television in history. The television went on to receive many make overs and changes through the years including the potential of using cathode ray tubes and the change to the electronic television that we all know today.

During its early years Television was much different than how we know it today. There were not hundreds of channels and constant broadcast going on and not everyone was wealthy enough to even own a TV at the time. In the early 1930’s Television sets were being sold for about four hundred dollars and the there were only a few major networks broadcasting at the time. Airing important events such as world news, high profile sports matches, and presidential elections, TV was in a much simpler stage. By the 1960’s television had begun to change towards what know today. Due to the growing desire for entertainment and events such as the Kennedy assassination, the space race, and the Vietnam War people craved constant updates and information on what was going on worldwide. Television took off from here and never looked back.

Today the average American home has about 2.71 televisions and only 2.55 people. News is broadcasted around the clock and television as a whole has become something that those early inventors could have never imagined. From reality television to social trends, television covers everything you could imagine and more. Coupled with the growth of the Internet and Web 2.0 television has been taken to an all-new level. “However, although ‘content creation’ might appear to be a new term, it has deep industrial roots. The term ‘content’ itself, as Fortunato makes it clear, is derived from the mass-media industry, where ‘the primary business of the mass media is to produce content – fill the broadcast hours, the print pages, the internet site’. (2005: xi).”  Today TV and Web 2.0 work off of each other, one creating buzz for the other and drawing viewers into their topics. Social media sites such as twitter, instagram, or Facebook are how the young generation initially hear about breaking news. While these generations may no longer be constantly watching the news like their parents may have, with the use of social media they are constantly up to date and aware of what is going on worldwide.

mobile_vs_tv_1_v1b-11The evolution of TV has come a long way from the box sets that only received four channels. Today people can view thousands of channels and have the ability to watch TV from their mobile devices even when they aren’t home. This onslaught of technology has caused TV and social media to become a dynamic duo that cover just about anything you can think of. With the ability to receive breaking news updates on your phone and tune in from anywhere you want, the news and media have grown larger than anyone could have imagined and there is no telling what might happen in the coming years.


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