They appear today in sleek, flat rectangular boxes filled with bright, sharp, graceful moving images – splashes of colors made up of millions of pixels that capture the minutest details in every object, creating images whose vividness, depth, and dimensions defy reality itself.
Indeed, television sets have come a long way since the first mass-produced units rolled out of the production line in the late 1920s. In less than half a century, our entertainment tastes have refined, and the television has transformed from its bulky wooden-cased ancestor with fuzzy black-and-white pictures; to its more modern and somewhat-less-bulky colored version; to the sleek, slim, high-definition, Internet-connected, and maybe even 3-D wonders of 21st century wizardry that we enjoy today.
But before we go further forward, let’s take a look back and see the humble beginnings of what is arguably the most influential and definitely the best-loved innovation of modern times.
The birth of the television
The first television sets were called Baird Televisors. Their appearance was announced in a British tabloid in 1928 and were displayed at a radio exhibition in Olympia.
The first televisors came in three models: The first model only showed pictures. The second came with a loudspeaker. The third included two powerful radio receivers, which enabled viewers to see in real time the announcers on the radio.
The Baird Televisor exhibition was so successful, it spawned various versions all over the world: In the United States, there were the GE Octagon (1928) and the Jenkins Radio-TV Receiver (1932). In the Soviet Union, there was the Model B2 Russia (1934). In France, there was the Semivisor (1929).
By the time Adolf Hitler made his first Olympic broadcast in 1938, more than 20,000 households had television sets in their homes.
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World War II prevented the further development of television at that time, so people relied on the radio for news instead.
But after Europe was liberated and the war ended, TV sets returned to the airwaves. Technologies used during the war went into the development of this home appliance. The market for televisions also picked up as people began purchasing luxuries denied them during the war.