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Television Technology

TV Turns 90 (axios.com) 117

An anonymous reader shares a report: A live webcast today will celebrate the transmission of the first electronic TV signal on Sept. 7, 1927, and the man behind it, Philo T. Farnsworth, per AP: The webcast is set for 6 p.m. ET from the original location of Farnsworth's San Francisco lab. It'll be repeated at 9 p.m. and midnight. Veteran producer Phil Savenick created the site to detail the medium's history and the contributions of Farnsworth and other TV pioneers.
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TV Turns 90

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  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:04AM (#55153721)

    There is still nothing worth watching on...

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:47AM (#55154001) Homepage

      And after 90 years there is still nothing worth watching on...

      And all mainstream music is shit and Hollywood sucks right? The more I learn about snobs of all varieties - not just the classic intellectual snobs but also the anti-intellectual counter-snobs and even the grumpy everything was better before-snobs the more I realize they're just shooting themselves in the foot by not enjoying what other people enjoy in order to somehow feel superior to them. Take the serious for what it is. Take the silly and fun for what it is. If you go to the opera, enjoy the opera. If you go to a barn dance, enjoy the barn dance. Things get a lot more fun when you stop comparing to the things it is not.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Having standards is a bad thing, then.

        • by spun ( 1352 )

          No, thinking your standards are superior and using them to insult and belittle people with different standards is a bad thing. It's the kind of black and white thinking that you see in a lot of recovering addicts and people on the spectrum. Their brains can't handle nuance very well, and ambiguity makes them uncomfortable.

          Please, do have some personal standards. Just shut the fuck up about them and live your life. If people want to know why you are so happy and successful, they will ask, and then you can te

      • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @12:36PM (#55154261) Journal
        And those counter-snob-snob-snobs are the worst! You should be ashamed!
      • And after 90 years there is still nothing worth watching on...

        And all mainstream music is shit and Hollywood sucks right? The more I learn about snobs of all varieties - not just the classic intellectual snobs but also the anti-intellectual counter-snobs and even the grumpy everything was better before-snobs the more I realize they're just shooting themselves in the foot by not enjoying what other people enjoy in order to somehow feel superior to them. Take the serious for what it is. Take the silly and fun for what it is. If you go to the opera, enjoy the opera. If you go to a barn dance, enjoy the barn dance. Things get a lot more fun when you stop comparing to the things it is not.

        Calm down.... What I posted was a paraphrase of a classic joke.. (it was supposed to be funny...)

        Why on earth it got moderated Insightful is beyond me...

      • I fucking agree bro. Amen.

    • There is still nothing worth watching on...

      "90% of television is crap, because 90% of everything is crap." -- Sturgeon's Law

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      bobbied snorted:

      There is still nothing worth watching on...

      Yeah, nothing to see here ...

      ... except Game of Thrones. And Fargo. And Better Call Saul. And Orphan Black (although, to be strictly fair, that one's over now - just like The Sopranos, and Rome, and Penny Dreadful, and Babylon 5.). And House of Cards. And Mr. Robot. And The Venture Bros. And Archer. And Master of None. And Documentary Now! And ... oh ... lots of other programs nobody watches.

      But you're right. There hasn't been anything worth watching since TV was invented by whoever it was t

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      The real problem with TV is that the good shows get axed before they get any chance to find an audience yet we get season after season of reality TV garbage like Survivor.

      • Reality TV? Oh, that cheaply made, closely edited and scripted stuff made to look like it's real? Personally it seems like a bit of a fad to me, one that will hopefully end soon.

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:05AM (#55153733)

    John Logie Baird in 1926 sent television images by radio.

    If sending by wire instead of free space is acceptable as criteria, television was invented in the mid 19th century.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The summary said "first electronic television signal". Which is accurate if you interpret it as meaning the first signal generated by electronic scanning (Baird used mechanical scanning).

      I feel that the much earlier fax transmissions can be ignored; most people would consider "television" as implying a frame rate fast enough to provide an "animated" image rather than a slide show.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but Baird was not American, so the Americans picked someone else. Many Americans think the car was invented by Henry Ford...

      • I think you are wrong. Amongst the Americans who do think, I expect many of them think that Henry Ford applied mass production to cars.

        • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

          I think you are wrong. Amongst the Americans who do think, I expect many of them think that Henry Ford applied mass production to cars.

          That's what we were taught in school. I remember writing a paper about it in fourth grade. I think it was Daimler who had the first commercially available motorized car.

          • heh, I did a PPT (well some similar program at the time anyway) on the history of cars back in the mid 90s. you are close, same company as its known today but it was actually Karl Benz who created the first practical automobile in 1893

            https://www.biography.com/peop... [biography.com]
        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          No, but I believe his company was the first to use a moving assembly line to mass produce cars. Apparently Olds was the first to mass produce a car, with a stationary assembly line.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • no we really dont. his contributions to the auto industry cannot be ignored but most americans in no way believe he invented the car
        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          most americans in no way believe he invented the car

          I hope you're right, but I am not so confident of that. These are the same people who think Europe is a country.

      • by jon3k ( 691256 )
        No we don't. Henry Ford is credited with the assembly line mass production of automobiles. Everyone knows the first car was produced by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a Frenchman. Or did you mean Robert Anderson who invented the first electric car? Oh you meant GAS powered car, after BOTH of them? Seems like as dubious distinction as Henry Ford's now, doesn't it?
    • The article said "electronic" television, which definitely was invented by Farnsworth. Baird was mechanically-scanned and effectively a dead-end. It's a bigger difference than between spark-gap radio and continuous-wave radio.

      • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:40AM (#55153953)

        bullshit, the information was transmitted by electronic means. scanners and fax machines have electomechanical parts too, they aren't electronic devices?

      • The article said "electronic" television, which definitely was invented by Farnsworth. Baird was mechanically-scanned and effectively a dead-end. It's a bigger difference than between spark-gap radio and continuous-wave radio.

        Even the electronic television predates Farnsworth. Several people had invented electronic televisons before Farnsworth. The significance behind Farnsworth is that he gave the first demonstration to the American press of a electronic television. Farnsworth wasn't the inventor of the TV or even the electronic TV.

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:17AM (#55153813)

    I thought John Logie Baird invented TV

    • His TV (mechanical scanning) is analogous to Nokia's smartphone. Technically it was the first smartphone (or Blackberry was depending on how you want to define it). But it was very different from the smartphones we use today. LG introduced the first touchscreen-only smartphone, and Apple had the most initial success with it. Likewise, every mass-produced TV until the advent of plasma and LCD flatscreen TVs was based on the electronic scanning pioneered by Farnsworth.
    • Re:Wait a moment (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:29AM (#55153875) Homepage

      He was the first person to successfully transmit a moving image over radio waves, which is what most people would consider to be what television is. I seem to recall that JLB coined the term television too,

      However American's don't like to think any bit of modern technology was not invented by themselves so because Farnsworth system was the one initially widely used they like to think that Farnsworth invented the TV.

      Thing is none of the TV's in my house look like either a JBL or Farnsworth system, so the idea that it was Farnsworth that invented it because his system is the one in widespread use is now looking somewhat of a feeble argument because CRT based TV's are basically yesterday's technology, with the number of CRT based TV's in use rapidly declining.

      Further Farnsworth method of capturing the image for transmission went ages ago, it's all CCD or CMOS devices today and has been for a long time now.

      Of course getting an American to actually admit that is like getting the truth out of Trump.

      • For most of the history of television, Americans believed a Russian named Zworykin invented television. RCA poured a lot of money into convincing people of that, while simultaneously using their monopoly power to relegate Farnsworth to obscurity. They were very successful at that. Farnsworth's key contributions to the technology that made television feasible on a large scale were not widely recognized until relatively recently.

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          For most of the history of television, Americans believed a Russian named Zworykin invented television. RCA poured a lot of money into convincing people of that, while simultaneously using their monopoly power to relegate Farnsworth to obscurity. They were very successful at that.

          Would guess this campaign took place in the 50's and did not stick. I wasn't born until the late 60's. Growing up, I never heard of Zworkin or Farnsworth. The story I heard was there was no single inventor, perhaps to avoid giving credit to the Nazi's who demonstrated television at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

      • Most Americans haven't heard of either Farnsworth or Baird, and don't care. Every country holds on to "their" inventors, don't act like it's a point of pride just for us over here. However in my opinion Farnsworth should be the one credited with the invention every adapted for use, the most accepted definition of "inventor". If you really want to split hairs you also need to include Zworykin.

      • Hey, I had a CRT in my living room just this year!

    • Of course Baird invented TV. That's why everyone used giant spinning discs to transmit TV pictures until CCDs came along.

      Or did they use Farnsworth's video tubes?

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:18AM (#55153817)
    ... Tube: The Invention of Television, by David E. Fisher, Marshall Jon Fisher [goodreads.com]

    imo, well worth a read. I bought the book when it first came out, and have reread it a couple of times.

  • Now would be a good time to remind everyone that George Orwell's 1984 wasn't about governments it was about TV.
    • I have to keep reminding my father that Televisions don't have any tubes in them anymore. Maybe he figures that eventually they will use carbon nanotubes, and his joke will have meaning again, but I kinda doubt it.
    • 1984 is about a lot more than just TV. It's about a government attempting to control reality by adjusting perceptions. Examples that aren't just TV: thoughtcrime, the ministries, newspeak, Winston's job altering records and photographs to fit the narrative. The fact that we have politically correct names for these (terrorism, TLAs, memes, and "alternative facts") means some people took 1984 as a guidebook rather than a warning.
      • Stalin was already employing people to remove the purged from history and photographs at the time Orwell wrote 1984. He was guided by what was already going on in his present, not the other way around.

  • TV got old and senile, is boring everyone with old stories, and sometimes rehashing them thinking we won't recognise the repeat.

    • Every Story has already been told. The only things changing are the characters and circumstances that create the overarching plot narrative. There are a number of people who have quipped about it in the past, and it is largely true (more or less).

      It is the narrative of the story arc that matters anymore; the uniqueness of the characters, situations.

      That being said, the rehash of the fourth time, of Batman origins is ... tiring.

  • As the professor would say...
  • The real question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @12:01PM (#55154111) Journal
    The real question here is: if Philo T. Farnsworth were alive today to see what's become of television, would he be happy or sad?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good news, everyone! Wrong Farnsworth?

    • That's not a question about TV, you're talking about the material broadcast in the USA as a specific and very tiny subset of the "television" that Farnsworth helped invent.

      What's there to be sad about in a device:
      - Which brings joy to millions.
      - Which allows wide spread discemination of information.
      - Which provides methods of entertainment as well as information both broadcast as video and as data.
      - Which has a critical role in protecting people during emerging emergency situations.

      If he sees his invention

    • Here's a segment from a TV show back in the 50s where he touches a little bit (in passing) on that, at least at that time:

      https://youtu.be/3cspYZyGp1A?t... [youtu.be]

    • The real question here is: if Philo T. Farnsworth were alive today to see what's become of television, would he be happy or sad?

      Amazed and impressed. 4K, 5K, 8K, vast color palettes, high-contrast, incredibly-thin screens... the technology is pretty amazing.

  • Farnsworth? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @01:37PM (#55154611)

    Wernstrom!

  • by jpatters ( 883 )

    It's worth noting that Farnsworth also invented the only device to achieve Nuclear Fusion [wikipedia.org] that has ever been commercially produced.

  • I knew a relative of his (also named Farnsworth) and it turns out they have the same hairstyle. Kind of a resemblance in facial features too if my memory is serving accurately.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

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