Adventures In Tech
TV tech through time - part 1Spinning disks, creepy puppets and the battle for colour -- here's the tech that established TV as the world's most important medium.
In terms of technology that changed the world, tv is up there with the steam engine and electricity itself. You're about to see the techs that pushed television forward. [MUSIC] The birth of television takes us back to the twenties and thirties. Inventors across the world were converging on the idea of radio for images. This meeting of minds led to TV's first format wars. On one side was John Logie Baird; a Scottish inventor who's quest for television had already resulted in an electric shock for himself, and a regular shock for everyone who encountered Stooky Bill; the terrifying puppet that Baird used in TV experiments when no humans could stand the hot lights. In January 1926, Baird gathered scientists to witness his mechanical system for television. Mechanical TV used light shown through a spinning disk, convert this to an electronic signal, then beamed out through another spinning disk, to create the illusion of a moving picture. Mechanical TV had a head start on it's rival, electronic television, a different system being pioneered in the U.S. by Utah-born farm boy Filo/? Farnsworth. Farnsworth invented the image dissector tube, and was the first to demonstrate an all-electronic way of transmitting moving images, allegedly drawing inspiration from the lines left on a plowed field. [NOISE] Television. Electronic TV had no moving parts, but it was like the fight. Electronic and mechanical would go head to head in a battle orchestrated in the UK by the BBC. Launched in 1936, the U.K.'s first regular television service alternated weekly between Baird's 240 line mechanical system and a 405 line electronic alternative from Marconi EMI. In the end, the BBC ended it's experiment early with electronic television a clear winner. Broadcast TV was up and running, but it wasn't changing the world. Not yet. Sets were expensive. Some countries had only a few hundred viewers, and loads of programs were weird variety shows full of juggling, marionettes, and dancing. [TAPPING] look, sorry. Can't we try, like, a sitcom or a nature documentary, or a car chase. No! Hey, ho, live dancing. It wasn't until the end of the second world war that TV began to realize its incredible potential. By 1954 over half of American homes had a TV. [INAUDIBLE] tube sets entertaining millions and serving up the world's most powerful people to public scrutiny. TV companies in the US wanted to lay claim to the next big thing. As before, two vying technologies would end up pushing the medium forward. CBS presents this program in color [MUSIC] Color TV had been demonstrated as early as 1940 by CNET owner CBS, with a field sequential color system developed by Peter Goldmark. The system was another mechanical one, transmitting pictures through color filters. On a spinning disk. In 1950 CBS's message became the standard in the US but it required a huge spinning disk plus a motor and programs broadcasting color wouldn't work with the millions of black and white TV sets. A rival system came courtesy of RCA. Which employed a shadow mask precisely focusing beams onto a displays colored dots. This all electronic method had one massive advantage. Colored broadcasts using the system could be picked up in monochrome by the hoards of black and white tv's. And in 1953 this became the new standard for color TV in the US. In the Seventies, sales of color TVs overtook those of black and white sets, and the age of color was upon us. In the next episode of adventures in tech, TV enters the modern age. Starting with an invention that saw networks lose control.