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Television is a system that sends moving images and sounds through electronic waves which then gets turned into visible light rays and audible noise. Since the 1940s, televisions have brought news, sports, and entertainment into the living room for billions of people.

Very few inventions have had such an impact on modern technology and society than the television. Today, Americans average upwards of five hours a day watching television.

The origin of the television stems back to the early 1800s with the onset of mechanical televisions. Mechanical televisions were very different than the modern ones that are used today. The mechanical television was an extremely rudimentary device which used rotating discs and light rays to display individual images. The origins of the modern electronic television that is used today was created in the early 1900s. It is difficult to give credit to just one person as both an American named Philo Taylor Farnsworth and Russian named Vladimir Kosma Zworykin experimented with cathode tubes simultaneously, which would be the key cog in a very complex system to display moving images in homes throughout the world. The impact of television on modern society cannot be understated.

From the 1940s to today, television has become the center of the modern human home. Televisions allow people to receive information in real time of the world around them. People are able to stay up to date on politics, current events, and almost any major cultural event in real time. Television has provided education, entertainment, and interconnected people with society since its inception. Critics argue that too much television has led to dependence and social isolation for certain users. Although in the modern age there has become almost a limitless amount of electronic mediums to receive information, the television has, and continues to be a vital invention for society.

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Famous Televised Events

  • Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II - 1953
  • Assassination of JFK - 1963
  • First Moon Landing - 1969
  • Challenger Explosion - 1986
  • The OJ Simpson Trial - 1995
  • September 11th, 2001
Learn more about inventions and discoveries that have changed the world in our Picture Encyclopedia of Innovations!
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