The evolution of the television

August 12, 2012


We’ve come a long way, baby, from the days of the first television broadcast. Using a mechanical TV he’d created and hobbled together from household bits and pieces Scottish inventor John Logie Baird was the first to broadcast a television signal at a demonstration at London’s Royal Institute in 1926. It was the beginning of a revolution that would come to dominate people’s lives but although the basics have been in place since then the technology has continued to change. In the past ten years alone the humble TV has undergone a drastic period of change that continues unabated. With that in mind let’s take a look at the milestones along the way.

Mechanical Television

These ugly brutes, of which Baird’s design numbered had an extremely limited resolution. They were the first commercially available TVs, and there was stuff to watch on them, but as they cost as much as a car very few people bothered.

The Cathode Ray Tube

The introduction of CRT and vacuum tube technology in the 30s and the end of WW II in the 40s changed all this. With prices dropping and broadcast TV beginning to take off due to the drop in set-costs the number of televisions owned skyrocketed, going from the low thousands of the 40s, to millions in the 50s. By the 60s this number had multiplied tenfold.


Under the onslaught of dropping profits attributed to TV in the 1940s Hollywood began to up its production of color films to draw people back to the cinema – something which was helped along with the massive success of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1938. It wouldn’t be until the late 60s that color TV would begin to catch up.

Flat-screen technology

The now ubiquitous Flat Screen TV first came about with the invention of the Plasma Display Panel in the late 90s. Since then the technology has undergone several developments including the much cheaper LCD TV and higher quality OLED.


Not to be outdone by the cinema once again owning a 3D TV set at home has become a reality. The technology currently relies on battery powered glasses to achieve its effect but with auto stereoscopic TV on the horizon 3D without the need for them will soon become a reality.

Picture: Michael Rosskothen – Fotolia

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