Who Invented TV? - History of Television

There is controversy surrounding the invention of one of the most popular 21st century devices: the television.

The difficulty in deciding who invented the television (TV) centers on the fact that there were several discoveries or inventions all of which together added up to the making of the TV.

Paul Gottlieb Nipkow of Germany developed the "Nipkow disc", a rotating-disc technology which was capable of transmitting pictures via cable, as long ago as 1884. However, it was decades later in the 1920s that the Scots inventor John Logie Baird patented technology for using arrays of transparent rods for transmitting images to be delivered to and viewed on a television set.

Baird's 30-line images replaced back-lit silhouettes with reflections of light. Baird also made it clear that he based his patented technology on the inventions of Nipkow.

Baird transmitted the first televised pictures of moving objects in 1924, the first televised human face in 1925, and the first real-time moving object in 1926.

But it was electronics inventor Philo Farnsworth who is credited with inventing the first completely electronic television. In 1927 Farnsworth transmitted a television image (a dollar sign) comprising 60 horizontal lines--double the resolution achieved by Baird.

Philo Farnsworth would found Farnsworth Television, Inc. in 1929. In spite of that, Farnsworth insisted to his friends and family that "there's nothing on [the TV] worthwhile", and told his children "I don't want it in your intellectual diet."

However, the pioneering work of Joseph Henry and Michael Faraday with electromagnetism in 1831, the 1862 invention of the pantelegraph (allowing the transmission of still images via cable) by Abbe Giovanna Caselli, and other work by scientists and inventors George Carey, Sheldon Bidwell, Eugen Goldstein, and Bell and Edison, among some others, all led up to Nipkow's 1884 invention.

It was in 1938 that the direct forerunner to the modern analog signal TV was first demonstrated, when German engineer Werner Flechsig patented and unveiled his "shadow mask" color television.

In 1939, television was first demonstrated at the New York World's Fair and the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition. At the World's Fair that year, RCA's David Sarnoff showed the world the first televised Presidential speech--given by FDR--while showing off RCA's new line of television receivers.

According to an IEEE Milestone Plaque, it was between 1946 and 1950 that RCA Laboratories invented the world's first "electronic, monochrome compatible, color television system."

But it was in 1938 that the Dumont company began manufacturing TV sets, and soon enough they were the standard against which all other TV sets were measured. DuMont Laboratories had begun researching and developing cathode ray technology in 1931. The Dumont Television Network would become the world's first TV network in 1946. The network was primarily created in order to sell TV sets.

However, anticipating RCA, in 1940 CBS scientists under the aegis of Peter Goldmark created a mechanical color television system based on Baird's later designs. The Federal Communications Commission made the CBS color television technology the American national standard in October of 1950.

In 1946, Goldmark first showed his proprietary color TV system to the FCC. Goldmark's set worked by having a red, blue, and green wheel spin in front of a cathode ray tube.

By 1948, at least one million TV sets had been sold in the U.S., and by 1960 people could buy the Zenith Space Command, the first TV remote control invented by Robert Adler (allegedly to help people avoid having to be subjected to commercials). The ability to tune in UHF stations became federally mandated for TV sets by 1962, and by 1967 the vast majority of U.S. TV broadcasts included a color signal.

Today, the American public is preparing for all TV broadcasts to be made in federally mandated digital signals.

Indeed, the historical development of the TV is a complex series of events, and proclaiming any one man the TV set's inventor seems inaccurate at best.

Comments 77 comments

Chris Long 8 years ago

RE: "WHO INVENTED TELEVISION".As a working historian and media chronicler for the last 40 years, with an educational background in electrical engineering, I would have to say that "the inventor of television" all depends on definitions.Let's look at the definitions of two words by one of the most authoritative arbiters of the English language, the "Concise Oxford Dictionary":First, the word "invent":"v.t. create by thought, originate... concoct..."However, most people would consider that invention involves more than just the conception of a plan, more than mere speculation on paper. For the thing to be truly INVENTED by a person, it has to be DEMONSTRATED by that person.For example, Charles Cros narrowly beat Thomas Edison to the CONCEPTION of a phonograph; but Edison, in 1877, was the first to DEMONSTRATE it. Therefore Edison is generally considered to be the phonograph's inventor.Radio? Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of "Hertzian" or "radio" waves, but Marconi applied it to a practical signalling system, so Marconi is generally considered to be the inventor of radio.So let's look at the Oxford Dictionary's definition of the word "television":"n. System for reproducing actual or recorded scene at a distance on a screen etc. by radio transmission, usu. with appropriate sounds; vision of distant objects obtained thus: televised programs etc..."In terms of mere conception, there are many claimants to the invention of television systems which were eventually combined with other components to achieve television. Nipkow (1883) invented the scanning disc eventually employed by the earliest television systems. Moore (1917) invented the low-voltage modulated neon lamp used with that disc to receive the earliest television pictures. The alkali metal photocell with its high speed of response, suitable for television, was developed from concepts published by Elster and Geitel (1889). C F Jenkins (1923) transmitted moving pictures scanned from film, but these were usually simple silhouettes and geometric shapes, not three dimensional subjects by reflected light, not direct, no greyscale and certainly not "live".So who was first to assemble a television system and demonstrate it to be capable of transmitting real-time three-dimensional objects, in movement, with a full range of grey scale tones, by reflected light? We MUST give credit to John Logie Baird and his first demonstration of the transmission of a dummy's head - as well as his own head and William Taynton's, in the first week of October 1925. Or, if you prefer the date of Baird's first public display, 26 January 1926, where forty members of Britain's Royal Institution and two journalists attended. Photographs of Baird's 30-line television image were taken in 1926. Although fuzzy and jagged, the image is recognisably that of a human face - and if one had known Baird's business manager, Hutchinson, one would probably have recognised him from that image.The fact that later, electronic (cathode ray tube) systems of television by Campbell-Swinton (in conception only), Zworykin, Farnsworth et al eventually outmoded these earlier TV systems with their mechanical scanners does not detract from Baird's claim to invention. Baird, in October 1925, came first. To apply the same standards, present radio techniques owe little to Marconi's spark-and-coherer methods of the 1890s; modern railways work on an entirely different principle to Stephenson's steam-powered "Rocket" locomotive. But the perception of invention must lie with the earliest techniques that were made to work, and with the pioneers who used those techniques. Farnsworth, for whom so much has been claimed in recent years, was undisputedly the first to get a wholly ELECTRONIC television system to work. This transmitted, according to Abramson's "History Of Television" (1987), only a "blob of light" on 7 September 1927. According to Farnsworth's own notes, his first "real" pictures were not produced by his camera tube until the second week of May, 1928. However Farnsworth's "image dissector" camera tube could not store photoelectric charge for the duration of each picture scan: it was insensitive, and it was not the direct antecedent of the mainstream of electronic television, as Zworykin's "iconoscope" camera and "kinescope" high vacuum receiver CRT were. According to Abramson, Zworykin's camera tube, though receiving an initial patent as early as 1923, was not made to work with film scanning until the end of 1930; it did not produce "live" pictures from a single-sided target plate until 9 November 1931; and a new method for producing a 'mosaic' of photosensitive elements on the camera signal plate provided really practical advances of Zworykin's electronic camera image quality in 1932.Modern CCD cameras and LCD screens have only the vaguest relationship to the cathode ray tubes of Zworykin or Farnsworth. In the case of modern DLP micromirror TV projectors, the display device IS mechanical, with moving "nanomirror" arrays and a rotating colour wheel. Mechanical television also survives in receivers and cameras designed special purposes, or for public displays, such as the DynaScan, refer:http://www.dynascanusa.com/So pardon this historian - an Australian with no particular affiliation to any of these inventors' countries of origin - for sticking his neck out quite categorically and saying, ON THE BASIS OF THESE DEFINITIONS, it's Baird!Regards to all,Christopher Long, amateur radio operator VK3AML, Melbourne, Australia.REFERENCES:Albert Abramson: "The History Of Television, 1880 to 1941", McFarland & Co., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina; and London, England, 1987.George and May Shiers: "Early Television, A Bibliographic Guide to 1940", Garland Publishing Inc., New York and London, 1997.Donald F McLean: "Restoring Baird's Image", Institution Of Electrical Engineers, London, 2000.Bruce Norman: "Here's Looking At You, The Story Of British Television 1908 - 1939", BBC and Royal Television Society, London, 1984.R W Burns: "Television: An International History Of The Formative Years", IEE History Of Technology Series, Vol 22, London, 1998.A H Sommer: "Photoemissive Materials", John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 1968.

mroconnell profile image

mroconnell 8 years ago from France

haha, this is a great hub. It's so great, you've inspired another mini hub (complete with citations and bibliography) in the comments section! good work.

Tivax stb-t9 8 years ago

Good Hub. I like it... Any info on the history of digital television? I would like to request a hub on it.

abhinav 7 years ago

gud topic

ameritech 7 years ago

who is Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena?

bitch!!! 7 years ago

this is some chicken shit!! this aint giving me any fukking info!! man yall need some fukking help!! im tired of this shit!! man all yall are bitches!! fukk yall!!!!!!

niki 7 years ago

still i didn't understood whose d actual inventor

yaya  7 years ago

a great hub!i like that

thruthi 7 years ago

still i dont understand who the inventer is

star of sky 7 years ago

I cann't understand .. I want to know who invented the TV ..

Thank you.

raymond azar 6 years ago

i still can't find any information

sam 6 years ago

where's the answer boss? who invented tv.........?

Chris Sandberg profile image

Chris Sandberg 6 years ago Author

For those who still ask "What's the answer to Who invented TV?" there is no one clear inventor, it all depends on how you define Television as there were several inventions created by different people that led up to the TVs we have today. So the inventors of TV could be:

Paul Gottlieb Nipkow

John Logie Baird

Philo Farnsworth

raramuri 6 years ago

Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena was inventor color TV, but he has a big problem, he was mexican for this razon was deleted from history

Babezz 6 years ago

This site acturlly doesn't tell u who acturlly invented televison that's all i want to find out...

priyanka .s.katrela 6 years ago

thanks for d perfect info..was so confused...chris sir...

ravi 6 years ago

when there is confusion atleast you can say to whom the credit goes in who invented electricity? please just mention to whom the credit should go.

blindman 6 years ago

Some of the comments are too funny! Now check who invinted the TELEPHONE! lol

vladimir 6 years ago

"still i didn't understood whose d actual inventor"

What is this article was written is a speculation.

Many peaple worked on. But two russians made it.

Zworykin and Sarnoff.

6 years ago

hi people

It's me! 6 years ago

Hey people here's the answer:

This guy invented the tv:John Logie Baird (August 13, 1888 - June 14, 1946)

wd 6 years ago

this domb

Vanessa Mawa 6 years ago

Who invented it, then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????? ARGGGGG

lou 6 years ago

great idea awezome!!!!

prenu 6 years ago

damn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!not a single useful info

prerana 6 years ago

damn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!not a single useful info

Alexander 6 years ago


Kazi 5 years ago

Thankx for dat info but don't hlp me

:)! 5 years ago

The person who first created a televition was Philo Fransworth in San Francisco, California on September 7,1927.

rishell 5 years ago

i think the inventors are John Logie Beard and philo farnsworth . but farnsworth only completed the invention , so i think philo farnsworth is the inventor.

lazcool 5 years ago

ths is realy nt helpin. aftr readin the all article, i stil cant find the required info.

Zmsn 5 years ago

thanks great info

Cruithneach 5 years ago

There's no doubt about it - Baird was the man!

Daniel 5 years ago

Here is the United States Patent, Filed August 14, 1941 by Mexican Inventor Guilermo Gonzalez Camarena


lovely29 4 years ago

this info really dont tell me anithing about who invented television it is so confused

mary 4 years ago

i never new that its so kwel

mounika 4 years ago

the invention is philo farnsworth

noor-ul-ain 4 years ago

nice work but tooooooooooo long

katrina kaif 4 years ago


fredshean 4 years ago

for me Paul Gottlieb Nipkow of Germany

dj 4 years ago

who made tv i aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

ashley tarquinio 4 years ago

what are you doing with that pictuer

12345678910 4 years ago


Nikhil 4 years ago

please start with answer

Imaan 4 years ago

I like this website alto

salom 4 years ago

awesome and interesting to read

IMAAN KHAN 4 years ago


Pedo.P.Hile 4 years ago

This really helped, now i may continue with my many workings.

cammeron 4 years ago

thanks i found out alot of info

fahad 4 years ago

i think the inventors are John Logie Beard and philo farnsworth . but farnsworth only completed the invention , so i think philo farnsworth is the inventor.

pratham 4 years ago

yaar answer ni laab reya

Nisha 4 years ago

Many times people who deserve wont get the attention...........So sad..appreciate those who are the routes of the invention

bee 4 years ago

i did not got the answer .....................................please let me know it

shashan 4 years ago

i did not get the anser

chakula 4 years ago


chakula 4 years ago


madhu 4 years ago

where is the answer? info is gud bt who exactly has invented the television?

hello 4 years ago

why did they ivent it anyways

amir 4 years ago


asomeness 4 years ago

im doing a project on televistion thanks to you i got a 100 percent

prience 3 years ago


TV guy 3 years ago

I somehow managed to invent the television years before I was even born and these guys took all the credit!

They knew it would be years before I could tell the word what had happened.

The plane truth is I invented television.

Not sure what I will do next.

your father 3 years ago

to much to read

Pancakes 3 years ago

where was this published?

Aaliyah Brown 3 years ago

This website is helpful to children for reading projects and group work

harry potter 3 years ago

you are very bad,mean

preetika 3 years ago

i can't understant who invented t.v please be clear

lol 3 years ago

this does not help at all

Bhojesh 3 years ago

I am confused

Who was invented

harshitha 3 years ago

be clear..... a small question but big answer.

Chedie:) 3 years ago

Thank you Chris Sandberg,it help me a lot :)

popthehead 2 years ago

this is stupid

Bubblegum 2 years ago

Hey idiots,

There is no clear answer to invented the TV because there are many people who worked on different parts, like Paul Gottlieb Nipkow developed the "Nipkow disc", a rotating-disc technology that helps transmits pictures or John Logie Baird who invented the technology for using arrays of transparent rods for transmitting images to be delivered to and viewed on a television set. Many different people invented the TV. No can give credit to one person because many people worked on inventing the device.

imran khan391 2 years ago

Televison has its good side it can be both entertaining and education and can open up a new world for kids giving

jonh346 22 months ago

I want to know were it was made???

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