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A Chronological history of Television and Video Technologies
(Compiled by yours truly!)


This page represents a collection of historical data I've collected. The backbone of this list has been derived through several sources I feel need to be mentioned...

- Eureka! A history of Video Technology, By Eric Taub, Published in Variety Magazine April 1996 (I pretty much scarfed the entire article!)

- Encarta96

- Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia - 1995

NOTE: This chronology is a work in progress, and is very incomplete. I encourage anyone who may have knowlege of any piece of video and/or television history not presented here, to E-mail me... I'll add it to my list with many thanks!
 
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1884 - German inventer Paul Nipkow develops a rotating-disc technology to transmit pictures over wire
1927 - American engineer Philo T. Farnsworth develops the dissector tube, the basis of current all-electronic televisions.
1929 The struggling radio network, CBS is bought byWilliam S. Paley. Through Paley's managment, the corporation grew and expanded to include radio and television, recorded music, musical instruments, and publishing.
1937 - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Broadcasts the procession of the coronation of King George VI from Hyde Park Corner. This represents the 1st. notable broadcast outside the USA.
1939 - RCA and researcher Vladimir Zworykin research and perform experimental telecasts from the Empire State Building, in New York City. These efforts culminated in the debut of television at the 1939 Worlds Fair.
1943 -ABC was born, as a result of a government forced split of NBC. The network was bought by candy manufacturer Edward J Noble, who gave it it's namesake.
 
1945 - The FCC approves the use of 13 VHF band carrier frequencies, to be used for communications by police and fire departments - and television. Due to adjacent-channel intereference, only 7 channels can operate in any 1 market.
1946 - 6000 television sets are sold in the US.  

- CBS demonstrates it's UHF-band color TV system to the FCC. The system is incompatible with the existing black-and-white standard, though company officials have designed an inexpensive converter for the countries 250,000 black-and-white sets.

1947
1948 - Concerned about cross-channel interference in the VHF band, the government forbids construction of any new television transmitters. 

- About 70 stations were on the air in the U.S.

1949 - At the start of the year, television is attracting 19 percent of the broadcast audience. By December it draws 41 percent.
1950 - The FCC approves CBS's field sequential color transmission system as the US standard. Using a spinning wheel inside the camera and set, this color system will be incompatible with the 20 million black-and-white sets already in use. 

- Cable TV is introduced as a means to bring broadcast reception to rural areas of the country. 

- The 1st pay TV system is tested by the Skiatron Company, on New Yorks WOR.

1951 - See It Now broadcasts simultaneous live images of the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges. 

- The worlds first videotape recorder is tested at Bing Crosby's Los Angeles studios. The tape runs at 100 inches/second, and the recorder's reel holds 16 minutes of programming. 

- The Supreme Court upholds the FCC's decision to name CBS's incompatible color system the country's standard.

1952 - The FCC devises a national plan for channel allocation, creating 550 VHF and 1,450 UHF potential channels. 

- The first UHF station, KPTV in Portland, Oregon, goes on the air.

1953 - RCA demonstrates it's "Compatible" 525-line NTSC color TV system to the FCC. Allen DuMont testifies that large sets using CBS's spinning-wheel color system would have to have internal seven-foot disks spinning at 360 miles-per-hour. The FCC reverses its decision and makes NTSC the national standard. Color broadcasts are authorized to begin in January 1954. 

- Casper, Wyoming's cable TV system uses a microwave relay systems to transmit distant television signals from Denver to its own cable system.

1954 - 500 television sets are sold in 12 months.
1955
1956 - WNBQ (now WMAQ) in Chicago is the first television station in the world to broadcast all of it's own programming in volor. Two percent of Chicago homes have color sets. 

- Ampex demonstrates its first VTR. The tape runs at 15 inches-per-second. The machines are priced at $50,000; the company sells 80 within four days of introduction.

1957
1958
1959 - Sony, Matsushita, Toshiba, and JVC introduce helical-scan recording, a method using less tape than the existing standard.
1960
1961
1962 - The first satellite transmission of a television signal is relayed from AT&T's telstar bird. Orbiting in a random rather than geosynchronous orbit, the satellite can only be used during limited periods of the day. 

- The federal government requires that all new televisions be capable of receiving both VHF and UHF bands.

1963 - The worlds tallest structure, KTHI's transmission tower, 2/5ths mile high, is built in Blanchard, North Dakota. It's noted that if you start a 20-second commercial at the same time you drop a baseball from the top of the tower, the commercial will end 4 seconds before the baseball hits the ground. 

- The 1st home videotape recorders are demonstrated. Ampex sells its version exclusively through Neiman-Marcus for $30,000. The unit is nicknamed Grant's Tomb, for its size as well as for the company's marketing director.

1964 - American Airline switches from 8mm film to video for it's in-flight entertainment system, buying Sony's 1st helical-scan recorder. 

- California's voters make pay TV illegal, an effort led by the movie and TV industries, concerned about lost profits. The Supreme Court rules the attempt unconstitutional, but Subscription Television, Inc., by then loses $10 million and goes bankrupt.

1965 - Early Bird (Intelsat 1) is launched by the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium. 

- CBS announces that virtually its entire schedule will be broadcast in color.

1966 - ABC becomes an all-color network. 

- Dual hetrodyne set-top converters allow regular television receivers to receive more than 12 channels.

1967 - Seeking to provide an alternative to commercial broadcasting, educational stations banded together to form the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) - federally funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) 

- The U.K. begins PAL color broadcasts, simultaneously switching its transmission standard from 405 to 625 scan lines.

1968 - The FCC authorizes pay-cable transmissions, ruling that only 1 pay TV station is allowed per market, only markets with 4 commercial stations can have pay, decoders can only be leased, and each pay outlet must carry a minimum of 28 hrs of free TV. Despite the restrictions, the National Association of Theatre Owners and the joint committee Against Toll TV go to court to block pay TV.
1969 - Avco Industries ends production of its Playtape video cartridge system. Japanese manufacturers begin to take over the VCR market. 

- The Supreme Court denies an injunction against pay TV.

1970 - Japan's NHK begins research into high-definition television (HDTV).
1971 - Electronic channel tuning is introduced. 

- Sony's U-matic VCR introduced. The 1st units sell for $2,500. Sony president Akio Morita claims U-matic will be the "color video phonograph" of the 1970s. 

- Sync suppression scrambling of television signals is demonstrated at the National Cable Association convention. This allows cable operators to offer basic and premium service tiers. 

- Scientific Atlanta demonstrates 2-way digital communications, the forerunner of interactive cable TV.

1972 - Anik 1, the 1st domestic communications satellite travelling in a geo-synchronous orbit, is launched. 

- FCC creates the Cable Television Report and Order, creating must-carry and may-carry stations and requiring all cable systems to be built with a capacity of at least 20 channels. 

- The FCC authorizes 3 over-the-air pay stations: Zenith's Phonovision, Teleglobe's Pay TV Systems, and Blonder-Tongue Labratories' BTVision. 

-The first HBO programming is transmitted to 365 Service Electric subscribers in Pennsylvania.

1973 - Giant screen-projection color TVs begin to be marketed. 

- Systems capable of offering 35 channels of programming become the cable industry standard.

1974
1975 - The Walt Disney Co. and MCA sue Sony, claiming copyright violation by consumers using VCR's to tape their programs. 

- The 1st. personal computers are sold. 

- HBO begins distribution of its programming via satellite, becomming, in effect, a network.

1976 - First Betamax VCR is introduced in the U.S. Priced at $1,295, it records for a maximum of 1 hour. "Make your own TV schedule" - early ads proclaim. 

-Japan Victor Corporation's (JVC) VHS (video home system) is introduced, offering double the recording time of the beta format. 

- Fiber-optic cable is first used to distribute cable TV programming. This new technology increases potential channel capacity and improves picture reception.

1977 - Andre' Blay, a detroit businessman, starts Video Club of America. In 5 months he sells 40,000 pre-recorded films through the mail at $50.00 each. 

- 75 percent of TV homes have at least 1 color set. 

- LA businessman George Atkinson becomes the 1st person to rent videotapes to the public. Within 5 years he franchises more than 400 Video Station stores across the country. 

- Home color TV cameras are introduced.

1978 - Videodisc players are first marketed.
1979
1980 - The 1st. protable recorder and camera combinations (Camcorders) are introduced. 

- The introduction of addressable cable TV converters allows operators to control which channels each subscriber will receive, without having to send a technician to the home. With remote control of channel reception, pay-per-view events become a reality.

1981
1982 - VHS-C format is brought to the market.
1983 - CBS describes a 1050-line high defination TV system that would be compatible with current 525-line broadcast standards. 

- Beta format camcorders are introduced, using 8mm tape that is incompatible with the existing VHS standard.

1984 - Hughes receives an FCC permit to build and operate a high-power direct-broadcast satellite system (DSS). 

- After 2 reversals, the courts finally find in favor of Sony in it's copyright dispute with MCA and Disney over home recording. 

- Multi-channel stereo TV sound is authorized by the FCC. Stereo TV broadcasts begin.

1985
1986 - Scrambling of satellite signals begins, by HBO. Programs and decoders are sold to home dish owners who had been receiving pay and basic cable programming without charge.
1987 - Sony stops marketing Beta format VCR's in the US. 

- The S-VHS recording standard is introduced. Picture quality is superior to every recorded format except laserdisc and 1-inch tape.

1988 - Rupert Muroch establishes the Fox Broadcasting Company - the 4th major U.S. commercial broadcasting network. 

- Sony begins it's own manufacture of VHS-format VCRs.

1989 - Japan initiates the world's 1st broadcast of 1,125 scanline HDTV programs.
1990 - Closed-captioning decoders are required in all TVs manufactured after July 1993. 

- Developers of HDTV systems propose creating a digital, rather than analogue standard.

1991 - US testing of high-definition TV systems begin.
1992
1993 - Wide-Screen NTSC 16:9 aspect ratio TV receivers go on sale in the US. 

- The 1st. television program to use only computers - rather than film or videotape - to store, edit and broadcast its content is created by L.A. special-effects producer Scott Billups.

1994 - DirecTV and USSB begin digitally compressed home satellite services, using a 18-inch dish. The technology becomes the fastest-growing consumer electronic item in history, with 1.1 million subscribers signing up the 1st year.
1995 - InTV launches the L.A. Project, the nations 1st. interactive TV network, on Ventura County Cablevision. Viewers can choose different camera angles for sporting events and select particular stories from CNN. 

- Sony, Philips, and Toshiba agree on a compromise standard for the next-generation consumer video-playback device, the CD-sized Digital Video Disc. DVD offers picture quality superior to broadcast TV. 

- An FCC advisory group recommends a digital HDTV standard to the FCC. Wide-Screen HDTV sets are predicted to go on sale by 1997. 25.7 million color TV receivers (and 460,000 Black-and White TVs) are sold this year.

1996
1997
1998
1999