Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Past and Future of Television

It’s a bit of a trend to say you don’t have a television at home. Some people fear their minds will be “poisoned” by today’s programming, and others don’t want a distraction of that kind in their home. Considering 98% of American households have had televisions since the 90’s, the notion of someone NOT wanting a television these days is rare. This 1927 invention revolutionized entertainment and is now readily available in a variety of sizes, prices, and formats--but it wasn't always that way.

All your base are belong to us.
When you hear the term “cathode ray” you probably think of a retro sci-fi movie with men in silver space suits. But the cathode ray was actually a main component of early television sets which were called picture tubes because of the ray’s structure. Images were first created by coding radio waves or scanning images onto a rotating disk. There were no transforming robots or blue aliens on these television sets. The first image ever projected from a television was a line. Yes, just a regular line and then a dollar sign.  As for the size of these “picture tubes”, all you had to do was set aside a small space if you were able to purchase one, because they measured in around 5” x 12”.

1955 Zenith Remote Control
You might have heard of the RCA company--especially if you’re reading this blog. Well, they considered the television such an important invention that they invested $50 million into its development. When World War 2 came around, however, the buzz quickly died down, and production pretty much halted when larger companies turned to producing materials for the war effort. Once the war was over and the “baby boom” generation was born, the evolution of the television went full speed ahead.

Cable? 1940’s. Color television? Patented in 1904, authorized to broadcast in 1953. Remote controls? 1956. People seem to have this idea that the 50’s were some sort of dinosaur age when it came to technology (no Instagram!?) but the opposite was true. Remember that line that was projected? Americans now had the ability to chose from a handful of television shows like “Howdy Doody”. They got their news information from two 15 minute daily broadcasts, which was a huge deal considering Americans only received news from the radio before those brief reports.

Ancient VCR Tapes
The 80’s saw a boom in television accessories like the VCR and, of course, Nintendo, but the 90’s ushered in the future of television sets. Parental controls, the sleep timer, and the picture-in-picture feature all appeared in the 90’s. While plasma TV’s were still in their experimental phases, the technological aspects of television weren’t the only ones changing. We were being exposed to sitcoms like Roseanne, and a little something called reality television. Programming was changing just as fast as the tech.

The 2000’s brought on the death of analog television. HD and BluRay became household terms and TiVO appeared to make sure you never missed out on your favorite shows. After 2009, all televisions turned to a digital format. Televisions also changed physically--they became thinner, lighter, and bigger at the same time.

3D TV In Your Home
What can we expect in the years to come? We already have 3-D television and Google Glass. Sony is playing pioneer this time. They are already working on a “4HD” television that has a resolution of nearly 4,000 pixels horizontally. That’s like bringing theater-quality viewing into your home. Also, this “4HD” television measures a huge 84” and costs a hefty $25,000. Other things you can do with 25K? Travel to Europe and Asia, buy a car, put a down payment on a home, and attend a few semesters at a university--it all comes down to priorities.

So, if you want to experience the future of television and you already have a 3D TV at home, start saving your pennies and set aside some space.

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