The History Of Television: 8 Quick Facts

Do you know who invented the television or when it was invented? Here are some interesting facts about the history of television.

By Leena Ghosh  • 7 min read

The History Of Television: 8 Quick Facts

Television is a medium because anything well done is rare - Fred Allen

Love it or hate it, the television (TV) is here to stay, as it is no longer 'just a gadget' but much more than that — it's a part of our life and a window to various experiences. Today, we use the TV to both entertain and inform ourselves. But do you know who invented the television? Or when was television invented? Here is a little history of television for you. Also read some interesting facts about television that you can share with your child.

Although more fun and interesting gadgets hit the market long ago, they haven't been able to push the TV out of our homes or unseat it from its throne. In fact, our fascination with the TV ensured that it kept getting upgrades and our TV-watching experience became livelier and more entertaining.

Who invented the television?

Scottish engineer John Logie Baird is considered as the inventor of television. He demonstrated the world’s first mechanical television system on 26 January 1926. However, another scientist, Philo Taylor Farnsworth is credited with the invention of the first electronic television system. He was able to successfully transmit a television signal on 7 September 1927 with the scanning tube that he invented.

Facts about television

With the modest TV occupying such an important place and being one of the most popular man-made inventions, here is a brief history of television and some facts about it:

  1. John Logie Baird was the first person to transmit the image of a ventriloquist’s dummy on TV. He performed this feat on 2 October 1925. The relay also included transmitting images of blue and red scarves, a UK policeman’s hat, some flowers and a guy poking his tongue out.
  2. The first TV commercial aired lasted only 20 seconds and it was that of a clock. The advertisement was aired in July 1941 during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. The manufacturers named Bulova also sent the first timepiece to space.
  3. During World War II, the BBC went off air for seven years. The last programme to be aired on the channel was the Mickey Mouse cartoon show. When the channel resumed transmission again in 1946, they aired a repeat of the same show.
  4. The Japanese can be credited with many inventions and one of them is the world’s largest TV set. This was unveiled in a Japanese International Exposition in 1985 and measured 80 by 150 feet.
  5. TV advertisements can be expensive, but the highest fee ever paid for a TV commercial was $2,000,000 per 30 seconds. The advertisers paid to run the commercial during the final episode of the popular TV show Friends.
  6. Talking about popular TV shows, The Simpsons takes credit for being the longest-running TV show of all time. It has been on the air for 30 seasons now and the Simpson Family also has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
  7. The fact that watching too much TV can be bad for one’s health was known to the inventor of the all-electronic television system himself. That’s the reason why Philo T Farnsworth never allowed his children to watch TV at home. He was famously quoted as saying to his son, “There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.”
  8. A person who spends a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV programmes is often referred to as a ‘couch potato’. In fact, the inventors of the first TV remote, Zenith TV, called it the ‘Lazy Bones’. This remote was connected to the TV set by a wire.

Also read: More Interesting Facts About Television

To recognise the valuable contribution TV has made to our lives, the United Nations commemorates 21 November as World Television Day. According to the UN, "World Television Day is not so much a celebration of the tool, but rather the philosophy which it represents. Television represents a symbol of communication and globalization in the contemporary world."

Chances are your child loves watching TV shows as much as you do. So, share these interesting facts with him and turn TV time into learning time as well.

About the author:

Written by Leena Gosh on 21 November 2018; updated on 29 October 2019

The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.

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