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Origins of Television

Origins of Television

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Published by: eduredtv on Dec 28, 2008
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Many electronic devices made the television possible, such as radio, thetelephone, and I suppose you could go all the way back to Ben Franklin’s kiteexperiments. This is true about almost all technologies. I would like to start with aman named Philo T. Farnsworth. Farnsworth, a child of a large Mormon farmfamily, did not encounter electricity until he was fourteen when his family got aDelco radio. He at once new how it worked. He next applied an electric motor tohis mothers hand crank washing machine. He found stacks of electrical journals inthe attic of his home and studied them faithfully. In 1922 at his high school, hestaggered his science teacher by drawing the complete electrical schematic for atelevision system. At this time, a system involving mechanical wheels was beingdeveloped, but Farnsworth’s system was light years ahead of it. Farnsworth laterworked his way through college working for a Salt Lake City community chestdrive. He told George Everson, professional fund raiser from California who washelping organize the campaign, about his television ideas, and Everson took theyouth back to Califorina to set him up with equipment in an apartment.Farnsworth had his first success in 1927 when he transmitted various graphicdesigns including a dollar sign, which according to Everson “jumped out at us fromthe screen.” Applying for an electronic television patent, Farnsworth took RCAcompletely by surprise. It’s attorneys contested the application, and in interferenceproceedings grilled Farnworth for hours, but could not shake him. In 1930, at agetwenty-four, he got his patent. RCA new it would have to deal with Farnsworth forhe was far ahead of Vladimir Zworykin a Russian engineer who was developing1
television for Sarnoff, head of RCA. Farnsworth was ready to license RCA on aroyalty basis. That was not good enough for Sarnoff, he had to own all of thepatents RCA used. He sent Zworykin to Farnsworth’s lab to have a look around.Farnsworth naively explained all of his discoveries to him. Zworykin memorized asmuch as he could then went back to RCA to try to duplicate what he had saw. Overthe next years RCA continually challenged Farnsworth’s patents, draining himfinancially and taking much of his time. Sarnoff was known to be a ruthlessbusiness man and would do anything to insure the success of his television system.Farnsworth did finally win in the end. The RCA attorney is said to have had tearsin his eyes as he signed the contract.In 1933 the inventor Edwin Armstrong demonstrated a new static-freemethod of radio transmission, frequency modulation (FM), far superior to theamplitude modulation (AM) then in use. Armstrong’s advocacy of FM, whichcaught the ear of the government, threatened to block the introduction of Sarnoff’stelevision, which required some of the same hotly contested frequencies. In order tomake peace, Sarnoff offered Armstrong $1 million for the FM patent rights, butArmstrong, by then operating his own FM radio station, W2XMN, refused. In 1940the Federal Communications Commission approved FM for radio broadcasting, butby allowing FM stations to duplicate AM programming, it dampened much of thepromise of the alternative system. The FCC, however, ensured FM’s survival byrequiring that it also be used for television transmission. In 1944 the FCCdetermined frequencies for both FM and television.RCA prepared for its million-dollar television demonstration at the New York Worlds Fair in 1939. Farnsworth had won backing from the Philco radio company2
and moved to Philadelphia to continue his television experiments. The stage seamedset for the emergence of television when World War Two broke out. RCA and othercompanies had to pitch in with the production of radio’s and screens for radarequipment for the military. In 1945, as peace came, electronic assemble lines, freedfrom the production of electronic war material, were ready to turn out picture tubesand television sets. RCA promised sets for mid-1946. The sets themselves weren’tmuch use without a signal to receive. The large radio corporations, ABC,CBS, andNBC quickly opened their television broadcast companies. The format of thetelevision shows they produced were based on their radio programs. They hadcommercials, drama, news, comedies, with one big difference. Now you couldactually see the actors instead of just hear them. Television has been with us eversince. The A.C. Nielsen Company, which measures audience size, reported in 1992that 98.2% of U.S. homes contained at least one television and the average set isturned on seven hours a day.
TELEVISION VIOLENCETelevision violence can have a profound effect on people, old and young.It may not have an effect on all people, but may have a drastic effect on some.Imitations of television crimes are not rare. There is hardly a day in which the wireservices and police blotters across the country do not carry stories like the followingones:In San Diego, California, a nineteen-year-old boy chopped his parents andhis sister to death and crippled his brother with an ax. Prosecutors and police3

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