"A Picture is worth ten thousand words - Chinese Proverb" (A History) If this is true, then a television contains more words than every book combined... I wonder if it's worth it...
A Brief History of Television
Initially discovered by accident, the transmission and receiving of pictures – the basic idea behind televisions, was something that took years to develop. Different technological mediums were experimented with for both the capturing of an image and transmitting it, and the receiving and display of that image. After a multitude of experiments, the cathode ray tube was chosen for its abilities on both ends of the transmission (A History). 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. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) premiered its electronic television set to the public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12). Other notable achievements in the history of television were the development of a remote, giving the viewer to change the channel and volume of a television set from afar (remotes like the “Space Command” raised the prices of TV sets, but were hugely successful in the market and later became standard), and the introduction of the VCR, which allowed viewers to record broadcasts to watch at their own leisure (The Future of Television, 20). Driven into popularity through technological advances, television finally hit big in the 1950s, and ever since television has been the dominant form of mass media not only in the U.S., but across the globe.
Used for its popularity across the country, Television became a successful medium for broadcasting a wide spectrum of news, political communications, and entertainment. “The first efforts at regular news broadcasts consisted primarily of men sitting at a desk on camera and reading from a wire service. However, when television started delivering news as a live event, it demonstrated that television news could have a significant, even decisive, political impact.” “News is only one small part of the mix on content found on television, which is primarily a medium for entertainment. The early entertainment shows on television were often based on popular radio dramas.” “Seeking to build large audiences, television producers tried to ride the coattails of popular shows by creating similar ones. Ratings mattered more than quality.” When cable television came about, the number of stations exploded, and networks rushed to provide content for every station, leading to popular stations about food, home improvement, cars, and sports. Stations like these are still pervasive in our culture and in the content that television networks provide for us everyday. Stations like ESPN, an all sports station, and MTV, a station dedicated to airing music videos, became largely popular. (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12)
Today, there are other, new, types of television shows that have become popular. Contest shows, like American Idol, and Reality television, like The Bachelor and Survivor have more recently become popular. “The defining characteristic of RTV [Reality Television] is that ordinary people (not professional actors) serve as the main characters” (We’re All Stars, 108). With the growing popularity of these types of shows, a similar event is occurring now as happened to popular radio dramas; there are more and more spinoffs, variations, and similar shows coming to television networks as they seek to gain ratings and increase their profits through increasingly larger audiences.
The Future of Television
“Television in recent months is going through a major transformation where people are watching shows whenever and wherever they choose. Popular series quickly are available on DVDs. They are also available through services like Netflix and on-demand services from cable companies. Finally, Internet-based services like Hulu let people watch television on computers, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones, making television totally mobile by allowing people to watch their favorite shows whenever and wherever they want. Viewers do not even need a TV set” (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12).
Just like radio was changed by the introduction of Internet Radio companies like Pandora or Spotify, television is being changed by the growing popularity of internet television networks and companies like Netflix and Hulu. In the end, the convergence of the Internet and Television is imminent and can come in many forms, from using your TV to browse the internet, to using the internet to watch TV. (Internet Television) In the Web 2.0 era, as well as in the next few decades, television will progress to a format where it will be more customizable, more interactive, and more accessible than ever before.