Today is World Television Day but who invented the box that has created couch potatoes?
You will be surprised historians do not agree on who is the inventor of the popular domestic and, these days, commercial appliance.
Was it some potato farm boy in Utah, USA? A Russian émigré in America? Or a prolific Scottish inventor?
Pun fully intended, you could say the lines are blurred.
Different inventors did different things with each projecting some form of moving images on a screen.
Some authorities have mentioned Philo Taylor Farnsworth as the first person to invent a fully functional television.
“Farnsworth wasn’t the first person to dream up television – but, importantly, he was the first person to find a way to make it work without a mechanical aspect,” writes Smart News.
He was only fourteen when he dreamed of the invention at a family potato farm in 1921.
According to writer Evan Schwartz, Farnsworth ploughed a potato field in straight and parallel lines and it was in the furrows that he envisioned the television concept.
He thought of a system that would break an image into horizontal lines which could be reassembled into a picture.
What about Vladimir Zworkin?
Apart from Farnsworth, there is a Russian-American Inventor Vladimir Zworykin who is also referred to as The Father of Television.
To distinguish Zworykin’s television concept from the farm boy’s he was identified as the ‘inventor of transmitting and receiving systems of television.’
In 1929, Zworykin improved his television transmitter (iconoscope) but his improvements allegedly used an imaging section which as similar to Farnsworth’s invention.
As a result, patent litigation ordered him through a firm that supported his invention he was ordered to pay Farnsworth royalties.
Don’t change channels. More is in store.
Enter John Logie Baird
One cannot mention television without, John Logie Baird, the Scottish accredited with the invention of a mechanical television system.
Baird gave the world the first demonstration of television when he produced 30-line images reflected by light as opposed to black-lit silhouettes.
Based on the image, he concluded that for a human face to be produced as a recognisable image, a TV should have at least 30 lines.
In 1924, the television pioneer created the first motion pictures before televising a human face a year later.
The British Broadcasting Corporation started broadcasting television using his on a 30-line system in 1929.
Baird later demonstrated television infra-red light which is used today as the basis of modern CCTV cameras.
It was during his infra-red light demonstrations when he developed a system of moving colour images on a Tv screen.
His fascination with colour television led him to come up with quality colour pictures in the 30s and 40s.
One may wonder whether television is still important in a postmodern world where people are hooked on laptops and phones, surfing from one social media platform to another thanks to the Internet.
Surprisingly, despite content being readily accessible, the number of households with television sets around the world continues to rise.
The United Nations says the television is the single largest source of video consumption and projects that the number of TVs in households across the world to rise to 1.74 billion in 2023 from 1.63 million.
On this day in 1996, the United Nations General Assembly held the first World Television Forum.
Since then, on a day like today, people across the globe come together to raise awareness on the role of television in presenting different issues affecting the people.
World Television Day stands as a reminder of the power of visual media in shaping public opinion and influencing the world in all spheres of life.
Television plays an integral part in people’s daily life owing to the triple allure of education, entertainment, and information, which explains why people still love their screens in the internet era. The internet has just made television more accessible – even on your mobile phone.
The Word TV Day reminds broadcast media, journalists, content producers and everyone associated with the media of their commitment to delivering unbiased information in a time when the veracity of content on social media platforms is questionable.
Happy World Television Day.