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An American family watching television in 1958An American family watching television in 1958 The first fully electronic television system was developed in the 1920s and 30s in the USA by Russian-American inventor Vladimir Zworykin (1888–1982). Television first became popular in the 1950s as TV sets became affordable. Now TV is the most important source of entertainment and information in the world. People can access television programmes not only through aerials in their homes, but also via satellite, cable and the internet.


John Logie Baird and his television system, 1926John Logie Baird and his television system, 1926

John Logie Baird

The first electrically transmitted TV pictures were the work of Scottish inventor John Logie Baird (1888–1946), who built his first TV system in 1925. His camera used a spinning disc pierced with holes and an electric "eye". The eye recorded the brightness of different parts of the image—the head of a ventriloquist’s dummy, called "Stooky Bill"—and transmitted what it scanned on to a screen. The result was a 30-line vertically scanned image, transmitted at a rate of five pictures per second. The first person to appear on television was William Taynton, an office worker.

Baird's first TV equipmentBaird's first TV equipmentOn 26th January 1926, Baird gave the first public demonstration of television, incorporating an improved scan rate of 12.5 pictures per second, in London. He demonstrated the world's first colour transmission in July 1928. The BBC began to broadcast television programmes using the Baird system in 1929.

Baird's television system, based on electro-mechanical principles, was, however, replaced by the superior electronic television system developed by Vladimir Zworykin in 1937.

A modern lightweight TV cameraA modern lightweight TV camera

How television works

The word television comes from the Greek word tele, meaning "at a distance", and the Latin word "visus", meaning sight.

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