Tagged With History of TV

Over the past month, we've been looking back at the History of TV. In case you missed any of it, here's a roundup of how we moved from John Logie Baird's mechanical creation to the latest flat-panel display.

Television is in the middle of a revolution. A revolution brought about by a little thing known as the internet. Where traditionally the broadcast technology that made beaming video programming from one place to many different homes was a passive form of entertainment, the rise of technologies like DVRs and the Internet has allowed us to be more actively engaged in where, when and how we want to watch TV. And thanks to the web, IPTV is going to take that shift to the next level.

Back in 2004, Canon – a company known for their cameras – got together with Toshiba to announce the Next Big Thing in TV technology: SED. Five years later, SED has become the television equivalent of Duke Nukem Forever - a lofty concept that sounded great, but we've given up on ever seeing its arrival.

The human body is a marvellous thing. The very fact that we have two eyes means that we view everything in three dimensions, a talent that cannot be overstated. However, for years, television engineers have been trying to develop ways that we can trick our brains into thinking that we can see a three dimensional image from a two-dimensional screen. And now it's the Next Big Thing in TVs.

LCD's Achilles' heel has always been its ability to show fast moving images. Watching sports or fast-paced action films on an early LCD screen was terrible, thanks to the technology's inadequate refresh rate. But just like introducing LED backlighting helped LCD display blacks better and more vivid colours, the introduction of 100Hz technology went a long way to eliminating the motion judder caused by fast-moving pictures.

Up until recently, LCDs just couldn't compete with plasmas when it came to showing blacks or colours. They weren't just bad, either: they sucked, at least in comparison to plasma. But then came LED backlighting, and things changed.

Back in October 2006, right before they listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, a company called Arasor held a press conference in Sydney announcing that the future of television had arrived, and that future was lasers. Arasor claimed that an optical chip they made could enable TV manufacturers to use lasers in their TVs for an amazing picture quality. They claimed it would happen by Christmas 2007, and would be supported by a range of manufacturers. Sadly though, it didn't and it wasn't.

For such a life-changing technology, it's sad that the quality of television pictures up until recently was pretty crap. Sure, 576i is good enough to see a picture clearly, but as screen sizes started getting larger with the introduction of rear projection, plasma and LCD screens, the lack of detail was really starting to get disconcerting. Fortunately, we now have high definition.

Last year, LCD TVs made up about 50 per cent of global TV sales. That's a huge number. Not bad for a technology that's only 40 years old or so...

Originally, plasma display technology was developed back in the 1960s as a screen for the PLATO teaching computer system. It was a simple, monologue display of the brightest orange that measured in at about an inch thick. Back then, nobody had any idea that plasma would some day lead a revolution into the lounge room...

If you owned a TV with a screen bigger than 40 inches before the year 2000, chances are it was a rear projection model. And chances are it took up most of your loungeroom.

In 1978, Sir Clive Sinclair - inventor of the pocket calculator and the ZX Spectrum computer - released the world's first portable television, the MTV-1. It was a bit chunky to be called pocketable, although that could have something to do with the fact that it packed a 2-inch CRT inside its body...

While it's quite fun to look back at the history of television this month, it also helps to point out just how good we've got it today. Could you imagine flicking through all of Foxtel's hundred-odd channels manually by getting up to the TV? That's what it was like (except without the "hundred-odd") before the remote control was invented in 1950.

If you get frustrated at the length of time for new gadgets to be released in Australia today, spare a thought for your grandparents... Despite regular broadcasting in the late 30s overseas, television didn't come to Australia until 1956, over 16 years later.

It may have been Scotsman John Logie Baird who changed the world by broadcasting a moving image using his mechanical Televisor device, but a lot of the credit for the fully electronic televisions we watch today goes to Hungarian Kálmán Tihanyi, who pioneered a fully electronic system and the development of the use of cathode ray tubes.

Back in October 1925, a Scot by the name of John Logie Baird successfully transmitted the first television image – a 30 vertical line picture of a ventriloquist's dummy stuttering along at five frames per second – and completely changed the world.

Has there ever been a technology as pervasive as the television? Ever since John Logie Baird demonstrated his mechanical device that showed moving images at 12.5 frames per second in 1926, the world has had an ongoing love affair with TV. And all this month, we're going to be looking back at how the technology that we all take for granted grew and developed into the LCDs and plasmas we use today.