The History of Communication Technology


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by Dale Fidurko,

The television itself has changed an unbelievable amount since it was first invented. Seen below is a picture of what an early television in any American families home that was lucky enough to be able to afford such as luxurious amenity.

An Early Television in a Home

These early televisions were characterized by their tiny screens, black and white pictures, and turn dial controls. Below is pictured a modern day television that could be found in practically any household in the world. However similar the early television this modern day television is not something is common in every household. The television itself has become a mainstay however expensive televisions such as below are only owned the few.

A Modern Television in a Home


In 1884, the first electromechanical television was developed by a German student by the name of Paul Gottlieb Nipkow. However the mere invent of the television did not mark the beginning of the broadcast television era. Over nearly the next half of a century several improvements were made to Nipkow’s initial design. Entirely new designs such as the Electronic Television and the Color Television would soon follow.

However the invent of the television did not directly coincide with the implementation of broadcast television as we know it today. In the United States, broadcast television first began in the 1930’s. On the map below the approximate decade that broadcast television began on a per country basis can easily be seen. It is noteworthy that besides the US, parts of Europe and Asia also began broadcast television in the 1930’s. Also parts of South America and Africa began broadcast television in the 1990’s.

Timeline of Television Broadcasts

In the United States, the first states to have commercially licensed broadcast television networks were New York and Pennsylvania. These networks were created in 1941. However the first actual broadcasts happened over a decade before this in the US. The first actual scheduled television broadcast happened on July 2, 1928 in a Washington, DC suburb, however initially only silhouette images were first broadcast. On July 21, 1931 the first regular 7 days a week television schedule was introduced by CBS’s New York station.

According to, communication is defined as the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs or means of sending messages, orders, etc., including telephone, telegraph, radio, and television. Now with the invention of broadcast television the ways that ideas were exchanged began to change rapidly. Hence the way that communication was done was changing rapidly. This was similar to the way that the invention of the radio years earlier revolutionized communication.

To this point in time as it can be seen from the previously mentioned map the vast majority of countries in the world have developed at least one broadcast television channel. In some third world countries this television channel or network of channels is not available to a very high percentage of the population due to economic reasons. However in many of the countries of the world the vast majority of the population of the countries has regular access to television. The fact that these millions of people have access to such network of different avenues of communication is quite astounding. This enables people of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities to share their culture and ideas with others.

There are many views on the impact that television has had on the people of our planet as a whole. Some of these views are positive and some on the other hand are negative. Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.” Hitchcock is saying that television has had a great impact on the treatment of mental disorders, by spreading information on the subject to driving people insane to the point that they need mental help. By saying this Hitchcock, who is a well respected movie director from the 1950’s through the 1970’s is attempting to convey his view that television has both good and bad results.

Today one of the biggest parts of the television broadcasting networks is the commercials. Commercials are merely paid advertising that is shown in between clips of sporting events, movies, or television shows. For example let us take a look at the Super Bowl from this past year. Millions of people tuned into this past years NFL Super Bowl and many of these people did not even tune into watch the game, but to watch the commercials. According to, CBS reportedly sold 30 second ads to eager companies for 2.6 million dollars. This is an insane amount of money for 30 seconds of airtime. However the amount of people that were communicated through this 30 second ad must be a good economic investment as the amount of money for one of these 30 second Super Bowl ads has increased nearly every year.

In the end, television has played an extremely large part I the way that the modern world communicates. In reality, the television may have revolutionized the way that our world works more than any other one thing except possibly the internet. However there is no good way to make a comparison between the internet and the television as the internet is far too young. The internet has only been around for a few decades and the television is fast approaching the century mark.