Television has become a major industry all over the world, especially in the industrialized nations, and a major medium of communication and source of home entertainment. Television is used in many industries. A few examples are for surveillance in places inaccessible to or dangerous for human beings, in science for tissue microscopy, and in education. Today you can find a television in almost every home. This is why I decided to research the history of the television.
The first television devices were based on an 1884 invention called the scanning disk, patented by Paul Nipkow. This device was a large disk with holes on it, which spun in front of an object while a photoelectric cell recorded changes in light. Depending on the electricity transmitted by the photoelectric cell, an array of light bulbs would glow or remain dark. But Nipkows mechanical system could not scan and deliver a clear, live-action image. Many inventors hoped to perfect this.
In 1921, a 14-year-old Mormon from Idaho named Philo Farnsworth came up with an idea. While mowing hay in rows, Philo realized an electron beam could scan a picture in horizontal lines, reproducing the image almost instantaneously. Philo was not the only one with this idea. At the same time, Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin had also designed a camera that focused an image through a lens onto an array of photoelectric cells coating the end of a tube. The electrical image formed by the cells would be scanned line-by-line by an electron beam and transmitted to a cathode-ray tube.
Rather than an electron beam, Farnsworths image dissector device used an anode finger to scan the picture. An anode finger was a pencil-sized tube with a small aperture at the top. Magnetic coils sprayed the electrons emitted from the electrical image left to right and line-by-line onto the aperture, where they became electric current. Both Zworykins and Farnsworths devices then transmitted the current to a cathode-ray tube, which recreated the image by scanning it onto a fluorescent surface.
Farnsworth applied for a patent for his image dissector in 1927. The development of the television system was plagued by lack of money and by challenges Farnsworths patent from the giant Radio Corporation of America (RCA). In 1934, the British communications company, British Gaumont, bought a license from Farnsworth to make systems based on his designs. In 1939, the American company RCA did the same. Both companies had been developing television systems of their own and recognized Farnsworth as a competitor. World War II interrupted the development of the television. When television broadcasts became a regular occurrence after the war in 1945, Farnsworth was not involved. Instead he decided to devote his time to trying to perfect the devices he had designed.
David Sarnoff, Vice President of the Radio Corporation of America, later hired Vladimir Zworykin to ensure that RCA would control television technology. Farnsworths business manager ended up selling Farnsworths lab and services to RCA for a mere $100,000.
In 1934, RCA demonstrated its iconoscope, a camera tube very similar to Farnsworths image dissector. RCA claimed it was based on a device Zworykin tried to patent in 1923. This sparked patent wars. Farnsworth could not license his inventions while the matter was in court, and he wrestled with his backers over control and direction of his own company. The men in Farnsworths lab were fired and rehired several times during his financial up and downs, but retained confidence in Philo. When Farnsworths financers refused his request for a broadcasting studio, the inventor and a partner built a studio on their own.
Meanwhile, at RCA, Sarnoff had spent more than $10 million on a major TVR & D effort. At the 1939 New York Worlds Fair, Sarnoff announce the launch of commercial television even though RCAs camera was inadequate, and the corporation didnt own a single TV patent. Later that same year, the company was compelled to pay patent royalties to Farnsworth Radio and Television.
By the time World War II began, Farnsworth realized that commercial televisions future was in the hands of businessmen, not a lone inventor. With his patent about to expire, Philo grew depressed, and became an alcoholic. In 1949 he reluctantly agreed to sell off Farnsworth Radio and Television.
It was after this that the television really started to take off and become a worldwide phenomenon. Every one wanted a television set in their house, and in years to come, everyone had one. The invention of the television just keeps getting perfected. With the invention of the color TV, cable television, Satellite television, and HDTV Farnsworths little invention has been taken a long way.