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Digital TV / TV Grows Up / Mechanical TV

Well, it all goes back to a little invention by Paul Nipkow in 1884 consisting of a disk with holes spiraling into its center. I know it's hard to believe, but this little disk shaped the development of television. Engineers like John Logie Baird and Charles Francis Jenkins, among others, used Nipkow's disk to create the first systems for scanning, transmitting, and receiving images in the 1920's. These guys created entire television systems based on mechanical image scanning and receiving. No Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) here.
Baird's mechanical tv system

Electronic television systems lagged behind mechanical systems for several years, mostly because mechanical television was cheaper to build and it didn't use delicate parts. Not only that, but it was really hard to get financial backing to develop electronic TV when mechanical TV worked so much better at the time. With a cheaper system that already worked, few people saw the need to change. Then Vladimir Kosmo Zworykin and Philo T. Farnsworth made some critical breakthroughs, and electronic television began to catch up.

Vladimir Zworykin found financial backing from David Sarnoff, Senior Vice President of RCA. Sarnoff was watching mechanical television development and predicted that electronic TV would eventually be more commercially viable. Later, when Philo Farnsworth found some investors to back his ideas, he and Zworykin competed to get their electronic televisions to the public first.

Electronic TV[next]


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