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The Invention Of Television And Its Effects On Society

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People in today's society live a daily life that a basic person could map out. They go to work, come home and make dinner, and sit down and watch some television. For kids it would be to come home from school, and watch television. Television has become a major power in our culture. It is our way to watch the news, hear the weather forecast, and to sit down and relax watching our favorite show or movie. But is the television really that good for our society?

In 1884 the first ideas of the television came to an inventor by the name of Paul Nipkow. It was called the scanning disk and was patented by him in 1884. It worked by having a large disk spin in front of an object, while the photoelectric cell that worked it would take in the changes in the light of the object. If the electricity put up significant changes, then some of the light bulbs on the device would light up and some wouldn't. The concept never took off though because of two reasons. The prototype had too many loopholes, and the disk never scanned a clear live-action picture

In 1921, a 14 year-old Philo Farnsworth was working on his father's farm when he came upon his idea for the television. While he was mowing hay in rows, he realized that an image could be reproduced almost immediately when an electron beam scanned a picture in horizontal lines. This was a breakthrough, but it was shared. A Russian immigrant named Vladimir Zworykin at the same time invented a camera in which an image was focused through a lens to an end of a tube lined with many photoelectric cells. The image that was formed by the photoelectric cells would be scanned by an electron beam and transmitted to a cathode-ray tube. Both were outstanding breakthroughs in the development of the television set.

Farnsworth's device worked differently than Zworykin's. Farnsworth's image receiving device worked on an anode finger, which is a pencil-sized tube that had a small aperture on the top of the tube. The small aperture on the top of the tube would scan the picture. The magnetic coils within the aperture turned the electrons caught by the aperture into an electric current. The device then took the electric current and transmitted it to the cathode-ray tube. A cathode-ray tube is a vacuum tube in which a hot cathode emits electrons. This created the image when it was scanned onto a fluorescent surface. The transmitting process was the only thing that Farnsworth and Zworykin's devices had in common.

In 1927 Farnsworth applied for a patent on his "image dissector." Unfortunately, the development of the image dissector was slowed down by two causes. One was the lack of funds available to work on the project. The second was the constant attempts to challenge Farnsworth's patent by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Eventually Farnsworth caved in and sold a license on his patent to the British communications company British Gaumont. Farnsworth sold another license to the American company RCA. Both of these companies noted Farnsworth as a competitor to their development, which was halted over World War II. After the war television broadcasts were a regular happening that Farnsworth was not involved in at all. Instead he wanted to perfect his original idea, the television.

RCA, though, was determined to gain power in the technology of television. The vice president of Radio Corporation of America was David Sarnoff at the time, and he took into his own hands to hire Vladimir Zworykin. The two then visited Farnsworth's laboratory looking to buy the business off of Farnsworth's hands. Farnsworth choked on the offer of one hundred thousand dollars and refused. In 1934 the Radio Corporation of America put a test model out of its own version of Farnsworth's image dissector. It was called an iconoscope, which was a camera tube just like Farnsworth's. The Radio Corporation of America claimed that it was based on the ideas of Zworykin and his device that he had tried to patent back in 1923. This was untrue though as Zworykin had used Nipkow's spinning disk idea all the way up to the visit to Farnsworth's laboratory.

This led to a battle between the powers for the patent on the television. Farnsworth knew that he couldn't license his own inventions at the time because the patent war was in court. Farnsworth himself couldn't even keep his own working area stable. During the patent battle he fired his fellow lab workers and rehired them many times. This was due not only to financial troubles, but of his lack of confidence in his control in the company.

RCA in the meantime had begun their investment in the idea of the television. Before 1939 the Radio Corporation of America had dumped over ten million dollars into the development of the television. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York, Sarnoff spoke on behalf of RCA and said that they would launch commercial television. This was an understatement for the time though as the Radio Corporation of America's camera was not yet ready, and the corporation had yet to own a patent on the television. RCA later in 1939 had to pay patent royalties to Farnsworth's company, which made Farnsworth part of the television scene. But Farnsworth now realized that the situation was out of his hands and into businessmen's hands. He sold off his company after World War II.

In today's world television has taken a very dominant role in our lives. One could look at the average American's viewing habits as follows. A person wakes up and turns on the television to see the morning weather and how their stocks fared. The individual



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