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History Of Television: Meet The Inventors

The history of television is an exciting topic. Television has had more impact than any other invention in the lives of Americans and people across the globe. 

Television became popular in America after the end of World War II. In 1948, over one million Americans had at least a television. 

Television is essential in history because, following its invention, access to information improved massively then. People were able to hear and view events happening across the world. Americans could watch the events that unfolded during the Vietnam War, which rattled the entire country. 

In 1969, Americans stayed glued to their television to watch the first astronauts land on the moon. So, television shaped many things in America and the world.  

Now, how was this important technology invented? Who invented it? These and many more are what we’re going to discuss in this post. So, keep reading to grab the complete information.

The History of Television        

Who invented the television? This has always been a difficult question. Why? The invention of the television is credited to two individuals. You cannot acknowledge one without the other. 

The first was the mechanical television, which comprised a rotating disk that boasted holes and arranged in a spiral pattern. 

Two people worked on the television design and creation around the same time. One was John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, while the second was Charles Francis Jenkins, an American inventor. Both inventors worked on their projects around 1867 to 1934.

Jenkins was the first to publish an article about television. He published it in 1913 and termed it “motion pictures by wireless.” Note the name ‘television.” Around the time Jenkins published his article, the name “television” hadn’t been used. 

Jenkins waited until 1923 to demonstrate the invention he was working on. And he did so by transmitting moving silhouette images for witnesses. 

In 1925, Jenkins publicly demonstrated how much progress he had made in his invention. He showed synchronized transmission of silhouette images. 

Baird demonstrated his invention, which was similar to Jenkins, in 1925. But while his demonstration took place in June 1925, Baird’s was in March of the same year. That’s why many credit television inventions to Baird, but it is popularly known that both men pioneered it. 

Electronic television was cherished back then, but mechanical television existed before it. How does mechanical television work? The mechanical television was unique. Its invention paved the way for various types of modern televisions. 

Mechanical televisions relied on mechanical scanning devices to function. In this case, a rotating disk with holes or a rotating mirror drum scans the scene and creates the video signal. 

When the rotating disk or mirror drum scans and creates the signal, another mechanical device at the receiver displays the pictures. 

Mechanical televisions were unique. And even though they made modern TVs possible, the fact that they transmitted images without film makes them unique. 

A Handy Tip: People usually mention Baird and Jenkins when mentioning television inventors, but we must remember the work of Yasujiro Niwa. Niwa was a Japanese electrical scientist credited with inventing a simple device that does photo-telegraphic transmission via cable in the 1920s. Later, the device started transmission via radio and was a precursor to mechanical TVs. 

So, two types of television existed before the modern ones we have today. These include mechanical and electronic television. 

Frenchman, Constantine Perskyi coined the term “Television” at a Paris exhibition around 1900.  

The Invention of The Mechanical Television in 1925

The mechanical television was the first to be invented. It was called the mechanical scan television or CRT. And it used a cathode ray tube. 

The mechanical television was the first commercially developed form of television. But it paved the way for electronic and then modern television. Its discovery began in the 19th century. They were experiments where cathode ray tubes, including projectors, were utilized.  

Unfortunately, mechanical televisions had some limitations that prevented them from being used in many homes across the United States. It was considered too complex, and there were concerns that the picture quality wasn’t encouraging.  

A Handy Tip: Charles Francis Jenkins and John Logie Baird are the inventor and designer of mechanical television. Both invented television. 

The Invention of Electronic Television In 1927

Electronic television took over shortly after mechanical televisions were demonstrated. Philo Taylor Farnsworth designed, created, and demonstrated the first electronic television in 1927.

So, electronic television was demonstrated two years after mechanical television was demonstrated. But this time, Farnsworth chose San Francisco as the favorable place for the demonstration. 

Another exciting thing about Farnsworth’s discovery is that he worked on electronic television since 1920 but had a significant breakthrough in 1927. 

Electronic television operates differently from mechanical television. Unlike the mechanical TV Baird developed, Farnsworth’s electronic television utilized electronic signals to produce images on video screens.

The television served as a visual medium for transmitting images, including sound, via radio waves, infrared rays, and microwaves. 

RCA Mass Production of Television 

Electronic television was an exciting project. It got massive reception, and RCA moved to mass-produce television for a wider audience. 

The RCA 630-TS were the first television ever mass-produced. The set was first sold in 1946 with a price tag of $350. Another television mass-produced and sold alongside the RCA 630-TS was the seven-inch model called the 621TS. 

Television in the 1940s improved a lot. But the picture screens remained smaller. Picture screen sizes ranged from 10 to 15 inches wide diagonally. However, the cabinets were heavy while the inside remained large. 

The RCA spearheaded the production of television beginning in 1939. And thanks to its two NBC networks, it dominated the radio business across the United States of America.

RCA was a key to the mass production of electronic television as they were a massive company with the financial power to mobilize scientists to produce more televisions. The company invested $50 million in the mass production of electronic television.

David Sarnoff, RCA’s president then, wanted the television mass-produced as quickly as possible. So, he hired Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, who participated in Rosing’s experiment and had the required knowledge to get the job done. 

In 1939, RCA televised the New York World’s Trade Fair. President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at the event and was the first president to appear on live television.  

RCA took a step further into its dream of becoming a pioneer in the production and distribution of television by acquiring a license that allows them to use Farnsworth’s patent.

 Early television paved the way for the modern televisions we have today. The early TVs were relatively primitive. Camera limitations forced actors and actresses to work under challenging conditions and hot lighting.   

The Development of Color Television 

Plans to develop color television were revealed as early as 1904. In addition to the color television system German patent in 1904, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin had a patent for color television in 1925. 

So, both were the first patents for color television ever documented. And even though the scientists involved tried to make their designs work, they weren’t successful.   

RCA is credited with developing the first-ever electrical color television between 1946 and 1950. The RCA Laboratories research team developed the televisions. 

By 1953, color television was successfully developed and demonstrated. 

The Development of Digital Television 

Digital television became popular in homes in developed countries around the 2000s. Its development helped spearhead a shift from analog to digital broadcasting. 

Smart Television

Digital television enjoyed massive acceptance around the 2000s and early 2010s. This move also made smart TVs more affordable and pushed developers to include more functions. 

Smart TVs with 3D technology or higher resolution, such as 4K, were produced. Today, we have 8K resolution television, whose images are sharper than 4K, though they are more expensive. 

A Handy Tip: The smart television is the type of TV that boasts integrated internet, including interactive Web 2.0 functionality, such as streaming media, apps, and web browsing. 

With a smart TV, you can stream content from the internet. You can even access social media networks. 

Smart TVs give you access to video-on-demand services online. These include Netflix, Hulu Plus, and even built-in WiFi. 


The history of television is quite interesting. Inventors worked day and night to ensure we had televisions that gave us access to entertainment and news of events around the globe. 

Charles Francis Jenkins and John Logie Baird are credited with developing televisions. Both inventors demonstrated their work around the same time. So, it would be unfair to name one without naming the other. 

Today, billions worldwide have at least a television in their homes. There are over 1.7 billion homes with television as of 2023.