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A History of Television & Future: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality

Following up on last week’s post, titled Wonkskolaser: The Family Who Built Warner Bros, this week’s topic is television. The device that was once expected to cement the family as an institution, but ended up doing just the opposite.

So, how did television come about? What innovations have been made to the device since? And what opportunities lie in its future?

Long before its realization, television was seen as a natural progression from the telephones, the radio, and motion pictures. An idea that existed since at least 1839, it was thought to be have been a good medium to educate, implant ideas, impressions and attitudes. Whether it lives up to this goal is a matter of opinion.

In the 1920s, when you mentioned television you were referring to a device that mechanically scanned an image through a spinning disc, projecting a tiny, unstable reproduction of what was being scanned on a screen. Many people contributed to its progression, a few of whom I’ll mention:

German inventor and physicist, Karl Ferdinand Braun, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1909, invented the earliest version of the cathode ray tube or “CRT”, also known as the Braun tube in 1897.
John B. Johnson and Harry Weiner Weinhart developed the first CRT to use a hot cathode — the negatively charged metal electrode from which conventional current travels in a polarized electrical device.
As early as 1907, Soviet Armenian engineer Hovannes Adamian, experimented with and claimed the first color television project. He filed for and secured several patents during his lifetime.
Kenjiro Takayanagi, known as the father of Japanese television, developed the world’s first practical electronic television in 1926 and was the first to transmit human faces in halftone (by 1928). The prototype is still on display at the Takayanagi Memorial Museum at Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu Campus.
Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the world’s first color transmission on July 3, 1928. Baird made the world’s first color broadcast on February 4, 1938. He also gave the first demonstration of stereoscopic (3D) television.
The first national color broadcast wouldn’t take place until the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade by NBC on January 1.
In 1936, Kalman Tihanyi described the principle of plasma television and designed the first flat-panel television system.
By the end of the 1920s, research shows that electronic televisions proved far superior than mechanical systems.

In comes Philo Taylor Farnsworth, who according to surviving relatives conceived the idea of an electronic — rather than mechanical — television while plowing the fields on the family farm at the age of 14. He successfully demonstrated his television in San Francisco on September 7, 1927.

As he plowed a potato field in straight, parallel lines, he saw television in the furrows. He envisioned a system that would break an image into horizontal lines and reassemble those lines into a picture at the other end. Only electrons could capture, transmit and reproduce a clear moving figure.

Sixteen years before Farnsworth’s first success, Boris Rosing and Vladimir Zworykin, inventor of the kinescope (not to be confused with Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope), had conducted experiments in transmitting images utilizing a mechanical mirror-drum scanner to transmit. In Zworykin’s words, sending “very crude images” over wires to the CRT in the receiver.

Farnsworth received a patent for his device in 1930. Though RCA offered to purchase all related patents from Farnsworth, he refused insisting on royalty payments instead…[ ]

What do you think?

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