Sunday, June 10, 2012


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TVs have come a long way since the early days. Let's get started to see how televisions have evolved 
from the 1940s to the present.
Today, we can watch television on computers or vice versa. Our modern cell phones now act as tiny television screens with which we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want. All of this great technology had to start somewhere. Television was not invented by a single inventor, instead many people working together and alone over the years, contributed to the evolution of television.
The Invention of Television
Once electricity was able to be controlled more efficiently with inventions from Thomas Edison, William Stanley and Nicola Tesla, human ingenuity into making new technological devices took off into new levels. First Edison perfected the light bulb and then the pivotal piece of equipment for a television in the vacuum tube was invented later by John Ambrose Fleming.
The First Television Sets
The very first television sets were mechanical in nature instead of electronic. As an invention the general idea was to send pictures through radio transmissions so that people could see events going on in another place. The first public demonstration happened in 1927 when a speech delivered by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover was transmitted from Washington to New York City and seen on a two inch by three inch screen.
Pictures were generated by a small motor and spinning disc with a neon lamp on a small screen that was a few inches across. Basically you could watch images move on a screen no bigger than today's cell phone screens. Ironic how the progenitor of the television has now come full circle back to its original size as televisions got bigger and then smaller.
Electronic Sets
RCA mass marketed many of the first televisions. In 1939 a new set cost $600 and got five channels in addition to radio transmissions. The screen was a 12 inch round cathode ray tube. It was not until after World War II that television production really started taking off because most manufacturers were concentrating on the war effort.
Other companies started getting in on the act with Farnsworth, General Electric, Emerson, Motorola, and Zenith all producing televisions sets. By 1950 the number of televisions in households reached over ten million compared to just 190,000 in 1948. As the war was over and Americans settled down they began to indulge in more and more television programs.

After the end of World War II in the 1940s, radio died out as the chief means of home entertainment and TV took off. Two of the most popular shows were "Original Amateur Hour and Milton Berle's comedy, "Texaco Star Theater." 
In the 1950s, "Howdy Doody" was the first and most popular children's show. Other programming included "I Love Lucy," "The Honeymooners," "The Lone Ranger" and "Leave it to Beaver." By the end of '50s, almost 90 percent of U.S. households had a TV. Most were still black and white, though color TVs (along with remote controls) were introduced in this decade.

Colour Sets and Cable

The second prime time children's show, "The Flintstones," launched in 1960 and the United States saw its first presidential debate televised. "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Three Sons," "Bewitched," "Batman" and "Star Trek" also went on the air.

Television finally got colorized in the 1964. Even so, sales of color sets didn't overtake those of black and white versions until 1972 and 1973 when over 10 million color sets were sold. The early 1970s also saw the number of households with color televisions go over 50 percent for the first time.

By 1967, most TV broadcasts were in colour. 
More advances in the 1960s included cable television even though by 1999 only 68 percent of households had cable television. Once cable became the norm for television viewers then satellite channels began to take over.
This 1970s TV set shows the clunky station dials that some of you might remember. Popular shows that aired this decade include "All in the Family," "Saturday Night Live," "Happy Days," "The Brady Bunch" and "Sesame Street.
The 1970s also revolutionized TV with the introduction of the VCR, which allowed video recording of broadcast television for the first time. 
Cable TV spread quickly in the 1980s, putting a shadow on network television while now affordable remote controls changed how people watched TV. This decade was big for soap operas, and "The Cosby Show," "Cheers" and "Family Ties" were popular sitcoms. The long-running "Simpsons" debuted in 1989. 
By 1996, there were 1 billion TVs worldwide. The sitcom Seinfeld became number one while Johnny Carson ended 30 years on "The Tonight Show."
TVs came in a variety of styles in the 1990s, but for most of the decade, TVs used cathode-ray tubes (CRT) to "paint" images on the screen.
Then rear-projection CRT TVs allowed TVs to get bigger. They combined a projector and a screen into one box. The projector cast the image on the rear of the screen. At the end of the decade, several new TV technologies were developed.
Plasma TVs first hit the market in 1997. The basic idea of a plasma display is to illuminate tiny, colored fluorescent lights to form an image. Their slim profiles made them very popular.
Rear-projection LCoS's TVs were also available. These TVs direct light through a series of polarizers (a type of light filter used to organize light waves into a single path for reflection) before being magnified and projected onto the screen. Although picture quality was excellent, they were very expensive to buy. 
LCD TVs use liquid crystals in front of a light source to create an image. LCD screens tend to have a better resolution than plasma and are more energy efficient, though while they competed in the '90s market, they didn't become the most sold TV until the next decade.
HDTV hit the market in 1998, and has ushered in an era of superior resolution and sound. TVs could now use digital instead of analog signals for better picture quality. Around the same time, TVs got an added technology benefit. 
In 1999, the first digital video recorder, or DVR, was released, which allows TV programs to be stored on a hard drive. 
The highest-rated TV shows in the 2000s included "Survivor," "Friends," "CSI" and "American Idol." Companies such as DISH Network and DIRECTV began offering high-definition channels and HDTVs became popular.
The first commercially-available LED-based DLP HDTV was produced in 2006. DLP technology (invented in 1987) is based on an optical semiconductor, called a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD), which uses mirrors made of aluminum to reflect light to make the picture. DLP TV sets are cheaper than flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs.


Now flat panel high definition televisions dominate the television set market. You can even watch high definition television on your mobile phone on a screen no bigger than the first mechanical television in 1927. Luckily you can actually hold the phone in your hand unlike the huge box that the first television sat in.

The reason HDTV works so well with crisp pictures and sound is that the transmission is in digital formats instead of analog. Data is sent and received in better packets with digital information. LCD and LED television screens interpret the new information and turn the transmission into as many pixels as humanly possible for the best picture quality.

Plasma TVs also became available in high definition, like Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.'s 150-inch Advanced High-Definition Plasma Display.
HDTVs continued to get bigger through the decade, including Godzillatron, seen here in a game between archrivals Texas and Texas A&M on Nov. 24, 2006. Around the same time, the next television product also made its debut, merging computers and television.
Apple began shipping the Apple TV in spring 2007, billing the product as a way to tie the power of your computer and high-speed Internet connection to the gorgeous display of an HDTV. You can connect iTunes to the Apple TV and watch television programming, movies, YouTube videos and more.
Microsoft's option was the Windows XP Media Center Edition software, which can be used to deliver video, music and photos from a computer to a TV.
Panasonic's Internet televisions featuring Viera Cast were another example of television converging with computers.
Now that 3-D television is upon us what is the next step? One theory is holograms are the next logical step that can bring a television show directly into your living room. Imagine being in the middle of the huddle at an NFL game because the television camera broadcasts images looking up into the group of men and interprets the image in life-size detail in your living room.
The Future
Image via Review Explorer 

Scientists are working on holographic televisions right now in Finland during a three year study. Don't expect them in your house anytime soon. It took HD television ten years to get off the ground so probably around fifteen to twenty years from now we'll see some vastly different television experiences according to CNN.

Captions and images via How Stuff Works 
Text via Yahoo Voices 
MIT Team Use Kinect to Create Holographic TV
Another ingenious use of the Xbox 360′s Kinect sees a team from MIT creating a holographic TV…
Headed up by Michael Bove, the Object-Based Media Group have spent the weekend showing off their new, real-time holographic video transmission system to the  Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers’ Practical Holography conference in San Francisco.

The MIT system uses the Kinect to capture data at around 15 frames per second and that data is then transmitted to a PC, via the Internet. The PC has three standard graphics chips attached that work together to recreate the image holographically, which, in the case of the video below, is that of graduate student Edwina Portocarrer re-enacting Princess Leia’s iconic ‘Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope‘ holograph scene from Star Wars – what other scene could you use when demonstrating such technology?

As you can see from the video, there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of image replication, but the essential technology is in place – this is a real-time holographic image that has only been worked on for a matter of weeks – and whilst the actual holographic display is a unique piece of equipment that is the result of ‘decades of research’, Bove and his team are developing an alternative that should be cheaper to manufacture.

Could this be the early stages of a holographic consumer product being developed? Possibly. As Bove asks to MIT News, “How do you make it as cheap as possible?…..take advantage of hardware and standards and software and everything else that already exists….. Because that’s the quickest way to bring it to market.”
Text via Review Explorer 

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  1. The picture that you posted as being a television set from the 1970's is actually from the 1980's. I think you need to change that. By the way i hate the ending of the article with the girl waving it is soooooo last last last last year. From Jessica.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for your comments. However, I've double checked and the 1970s TV pictured above is really from the '70s. And the girl waving is Marilyn Monroe and she waves bye-bye at the end of all of my posts. To paraphrase a song you probably have never heard of... ♪♬ It's my blog and I'll keep Marilyn if I want to. ♪♫♬ Keep checking back. I like getting comments.