Who invented the world’s first television and in what year


Today it is difficult to imagine that more than a hundred years ago humanity could do without television. This technique has become a familiar member of the family, entertaining, educating and informing the rest of the household. In this regard, it will be interesting to know who invented the first television.

Who was involved in the development of the foundations of television

The debate about who invented the television continues to this day. The fact is that the technologies underlying television have evolved along two independent paths. One of them is a TV with a mechanical principle of operation, the other is electronic.

In various sources, the following inventors are called the progenitors of the TV: Rosing, Berg, Kataev, Nipkov, Takayanagi, Byrd, Farnsworth and Berg. To understand which of them can be considered the inventor of the television, consider their activities.

Paul Julius Gottlieb Nipkow

A German technician, as a student (end of the 19th century), invented a disk with spiral holes, thanks to which the image could be decomposed into elements. As it rotated, it passed the image-forming radiation in a certain sequence. This invention was called the «Nipkow disk» and became the basis for the creation of a mechanical TV.

Nipkow disc

Image transmission using a Nipkow disk

John Logie Baird

This Scottish inventor became the scientist who took Nipkow’s invention as a basis and developed it, thereby turning it into a full-fledged mechanical TV. In addition, the signal amplification capabilities have already reached a level sufficient for broadcasting. Thanks to this, in March 1925, John Baird first showed a dynamic image on a television. The following year, he already conducted a signal transmission by radio, followed by a demonstration of the picture on the screen. This historic event is considered first TV show.

A year later, an experiment was organized, during which the TV signal was transmitted over a distance of 705 km (from London to Glasgow). It was the first broadcast that also made history.

John Logie Baird

John Baird TV

Boris Lvovich Rosing

A scientist who worked in the field of physics and technology, originally from St. Petersburg. Being engaged in television, he was one of the first to realize the futility of the development of such a direction as a mechanical television. He’s researched inertialess electron beam, his action, leaving, thus, the issue of creating a TV from the other side. The TV created by the scientist did not have a mechanical transmission; it was the prototype of the modern TV. It is on this basis that Rosing is considered the creator of the electronic television, which was recorded by a patent from 1907, which received worldwide recognition. Going further in his work, Boris Lvovich by 1911 developed a prototype of a modern kinescope. The launch of this invention was the world premiere of a TV show on electronic TV.

Boris Lvovich Rosing

Boris Lvovich Rosing is considered the inventor of the electronic television

Campbell-Synton Alan Archibald

This scientist was exclusively theoretical research in the field of electronic television. In particular, he convincingly substantiated the limited development of transmission on TV on the basis of mechanics. In 1908 he published in Nature. In his article, he gave theoretical calculations about the electronic TV. In 1911, he developed his idea in this direction at a speech in London. He spoke about the possibility of transmitting and reproducing a signal through a CRT, but this scheme was similar to the one that Rogozin had previously developed. Campbell-Synton Alan Archibald did not achieve practical results in this area.

Takayanagi Kenjiro

The Japanese scientist combined the results of his predecessors’ research, namely the CRT and the Nipkow disk in one product. The following result was achieved: in the 1920s, the Japanese introduced 40 line resolution TV. Continuing to work in this direction, by 1927 the resolution had already reached 100 lines, which made it possible to broadcast an image of sufficiently high definition. If earlier only silhouettes were shown on the screen, then Takayanagi Kenjiro in 1928 presented halftone face image.

Takayanagi Kenjiro

Takayanagi Kenjiro and his invention

Farnsworth Philo Taylor

American scientist who worked on improving the signal transmission system. He was able to develop analogue of the Nipkow disk in the electronic solution. The “image dessector” node divided the image into a set of electrical signals. Farnsyorth Philo Taylor owns the development of the telesystem, which for the first time was based only on electronic/electrical principles, without mechanics. In 1928, scientists saw this system, and in 1934 the whole world.

Semyon Isidorovich Kataev

Kataev was follower of Rosing. He was engaged in the improvement of technology for their practical application. The research took place simultaneously and in competition with another scientist, V.K. Zvorykin. In 1931 Kataev demonstrated his the invention of the radio eye (a patent for it was issued in 1934).

In a personal meeting of these two scientists to exchange experiences, Zworykin admitted that Kataev’s discovery had the best characteristics.

Kataev and Zworykin

Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin

Zworykin directed his research interest to the development of a cathode ray tube with electrostatic focusing. He focused on developing receiving linkassuming that it is also possible to transmit a signal with a device based on the Nipkow disk (while Kataev was primarily concerned with the transmitting element).

Zworykin held the first show of his development in 1926, and he patented it only in 1935 in the USA. Most television sets built before the 1970s were based on magnetic focusing, as there was no decent competition for them. Electrostatic focusing did not give the desired quality. However, in general, the appearance of modern format televisions became possible precisely after the discovery of Zworykin.

Who can be considered the inventor of modern television

So, the birth of a TV as a technology followed two branches: an electromechanical TV and an electronic one that forms an image using a CRT. The idea with the use of mechanics turned out to be unpromising, although it made a certain contribution to the common cause with selective ideas. Therefore, if we talk about the author of the modern television in the form in which it exists now, the adherents of the mechanical idea do not count (Nipkow and Byrd).

Disputes about who was the first, Zworykin or Kataev, are still going on today. They worked simultaneously on inventions that are similar in essence, but different in implementation. The question is rather formal.

The recognized father of the TV is still Rosing, who created the CRT prototype, understood the prospects of this direction and actively promoted it, infecting his students Kataev and Zworykin with the idea, among other things.

first TV

This is what one of the world’s first televisions looked like (1928)

The development of television in the Soviet Union

The first televisions in the USSR appeared already in 1939 — they began to be produced by the Leningrad plant «Comintern». The principle of operation was the action of the Nipkow disk, and therefore such a prefix, which has a 3 by 4 cm screen, had to be connect to radio. Then it was necessary to switch the radio to other frequencies — as a result, it was possible to watch those programs that were broadcast in European countries.

It was also interesting that such first TVs could be made by anyone. Specifically for this, the corresponding instruction was placed in the Radiofront magazine.

Regular TV broadcasting was started in 1938 by the Experimental Leningrad Center. And in the capital, TV programs began to go on the air about six months later. Interestingly, each of the telecentres in these cities used different decomposition standards, which required the use of certain models of equipment.

  1. To receive the broadcasts of the Leningrad Television and Radio Center, the TV device «VRK» (in decoding — the All-Union Radio Committee) was used. It was a device with a screen of 130 × 175 mm, the operation of the kinescope in which was provided by 24 lamps. Principle of operation — decomposition into 240 lines. Interestingly, in the thirties of the last century, 20 copies of such a device were produced. Such equipment was installed in the houses of pioneers and palaces of culture for the purpose of collective viewing.
  2. The Moscow Television Center broadcast from expansion into 343 lines — this was perceived by the TK-1 devices. Here a more complex device with 33 lamps was already implied. In 1938 alone, 200 of them were produced, and by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War — 2 thousand copies.

The research of human engineering did not stop there — sooner or later simplified models should have appeared. For example, at the Leningrad plant «Radist» in 1940, a serial version of the «17TN-1» was proposed, which could play programs from both television in Leningrad and Moscow. Production was launched, but before the outbreak of hostilities, only 2 thousand pieces managed to be released.

You can also give an example of a simplified model called «ATP-1» (Subscriber television receiver No. 1) — it was the prototype of modern cable subscriber television. It was produced by the Alexander Plant before the war.

Subscriber television receiver No. 1

When television became color

All of the above talks about the transmission of a black and white image. Scientists continued to work on making it colorful.

When did color televisions appear? For the first time, they began to think about this back in the time of mechanical television receivers. One of the first developments is presented by Hovhannes Adamyan, who in 1908 received a patent for the ability to transmit signals two-color device. It is impossible not to mention John Logie Brad, the same inventor of the mechanical receiver. It was he who, in 1928, assembled a color television that sequentially transmitted three images using a blue, red and green light filter.

Color TV 1928

But these were only attempts. A real leap in the development of color television occurred after the end of World War II. Since all forces were thrown into civilian production, this inevitably led to progress in this area. This is what happened in the USA. An additional reason was the use decimeter waves to transfer the image.

This led to the fact that already in 1940 the Triniscope system was presented by American scientists. It was notable for the fact that it used three kinescopes with different colors from the phosphor glow, each of which reproduced a different color of the image.


As for domestic open spaces, similar technical developments began to appear in the USSR only in 1951. But a year later, even ordinary viewers could see a trial color broadcast.

In the 70s, the TV became a familiar technical device in many homes around the world. The Soviet space was no exception, the only thing worth noting is that color television sets remained in our country scarce until the end of the 1980s.

Progress does not stand still

The inventors tried to improve the result — so in 1956 a remote control appeared. Who created such a useful device? It was designed by Robert Adler in 1956. The principle of its work was to transfer ultrasonic signals, which were modulated by the corresponding commands. The very first remote control could only control the volume and change channels, but even at that time it was a pretty weighty statement.

First remote control

Concerning infrared remote control, then it appeared in 1974 as a result of the development of Grundig and Magnavox. Its birth was dictated by the advent of teletext, which required more precise control, which means that buttons appeared then. And already in the eighties, the remote control was additionally used as an analogue of the gamepad, because then TVs became an additional monitor for the first household computers and game consoles.

With the advent of video recorders, it became necessary to additionally introduce a component video input (except for the already existing analog antenna input).

With the beginning of the twenty-first century, the era of kinescopes came to an end — plasma panels began to appear and LCD TVs. And by the 2010s, kinescope models were practically forced out of the market by flat devices in LCD and PDP formats. Many of them can connect to the Internet and even demonstrate the ability to view 3D content.


Today’s TV receiver bears little resemblance to its progenitor — it has the functions home media centerwhile maintaining the functions of viewing terrestrial and cable television. And this is not to mention the very quality of the image transmitted in the standard of high (and in top models and ultra-high) definition.


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