Cameron Smith – Television Through Time

Television is our generation’s central source of media used to obtain all kinds of information. Things such as learning about current events going on in our world, how our favorite sports team is doing, and what is happening in our favorite TV show. Television was and is the most influential media source our society offers. But as we know this sort of technology does not appear out of thin air, there are many things that had to occur to give us the televisions we know and love today. The groundbreaking technology that started to make the possibility of television real started with the discovery of cathode rays by William Crookes in 1878. These cathode rays can only be seen when inserted into a glass tube with wires at each end while air is forcefully pumped into the glass creating an electric charge, which gives off a florescent glow.  “Experimentation with television in the United States began in earnest in the 1920s as several inventors struggled with a variety of cathode ray tube designs to find a product with commercial possibilities.” (426) Once this florescent light was harnessed scientists could begin work figuring out how to use them. The company at the head of the race as well as the company who ended up winning was called the “Radio Corporation of America (RCA) who premiered its electronic television set to the public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.”(426) “Many people saw their first telecasts in bars, which won or retained customers by installing sets, often tuned to an early filler of the schedule, professional wrestling.”TV’s sales started to really increase in the late 1940’s giving way to the “Golden Age of Television.” This time frame from the late 40’s through the 60’s made was for a number of brilliant young writers entertained audiences with their cleverly written and captivating shows. “The quintessential “golden age” drama was Paddy Chayevsky’s Marty.”(426) But Paddy was not the only big name that helped mold television into what it is today. Names such as “Roone Arledge, Edward R. Murrow, and Oprah Winfrey helped shape television and give it its character.”(4) These people shaped media, as we know it today starting in 1934 and moving all the way to the present where we pick one of our 3 flat screen TV’s and be entertained.

The technology in televisions changed drastically from 1960 to the 2000’s. “By the end of the 1960’s there were approximately 78 million television sets in homes across the United States; 200 million around the world.” The 70’s were the last decade where black and white televisions were made and “the first direct to broadcast satellite television was launched in 1972.” The 80’s were not as innovative but produced the VCR. The 90’s and 00’s gave us the biggest increase in technology with the invention of DVD players and analog television. This time is said to be the “age of technological change” mostly thanks to the invention and increased popularity of the Internet. Now in 2015 televisions are everywhere and they play a key role in our society. In this age of web 2.0 televisions allows its users a lot of control at the push of a button. We have millions of movies and TV shows at our command with smart TV’s and Netflix. In the future I see the internet and televisions melting into one big system where you can watch your favorite shows while you browse your internet profile from the comfort of you’re lazy boy.



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