Evolution of Television Technology

Evolution of Television Technology

Televisions have come a long way since their early days in the 1920s.  Today televisions are located in most modern homes around the world and television content is one of the most popular forms of entertainment.

Experts predict that in 2024 there will be more than 5.5 billion people who watch television regularly.  Even with the growth of other formats such as smartphones and tablets, television remains the choice of many people.

Advancements in technology, such as OLED TV screens mean there is little to no difference between a television screen and a computer monitor.

The history of television has been one of invention and innovation.

The Early Days

Scientists had to discover how to produce moving images. The first photograph was invented in 1822. Two complementary technologies allowed the development of television technology.

The cathode ray tube was invented in 1897. When combined with electricity and cameras, the CRT can generate visible light when a beam of electrons hits its fluorescent screen. The other critical piece was the invention of the mechanical scanner.  This is a metal disk that rotates allowing light to pass through a series of holes.  These pinpoints of light create pictures that can be transmuted on electronic lines.

There was a brief period of competition between mechanical and electronic televisions.  In the end, the CRT or electronic technology won out and formed the basis of the televisions we have today.


The first experimental broadcast was in 1928. Regular broadcasts began in Brisbane in 1934 to an estimated 18 homes in the area. These 1-hour transmissions included news headlines, still pictures and silent movies.

In the early 1950s, the decision was made to grant the first licenses for broadcast television.  At that time the country was in a recession with severe shortages of labour and materials.  Television was looked at as a drain from more fundamental projects.

TCN-9 Sydney began test transmission in September 1956 and began officially broadcasting in October of the same year.

Colour Televisions

Colour television was a major advancement. The first colour TVs arrived on the scene in the 1950s, but due to high cost, adoption rates were low. There was no big incentive to upgrade as users could still show the colour broadcasts on their black and white devices.

Following WW 2, advancements in military manufacturing were adopted by commercial companies and colour televisions became much cheaper to produce. This made them more accessible to the general public. As televisions became more popular broadcast networks saw the benefit of extending their reach into more rural and less populated areas.

This gave rise to the phenomenon of cable television. Galaxy TV was the first provider of subscription television in Australia.

Digital and High Definition TVs

The advent of digital television signals opened up the world of high-quality images in television transmission. Early analogue signals were of poor quality and vulnerable to distortion and static.

Modern digital technology continues to improve with advancements in screen technology benefitting not only televisions but computer screens and smartphones as well.

The television we enjoy today is a far cry from the grainy black-and-white images our grandfathers watched.

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