The History of Telephones, Radio, & Television – Stem Frenzy

The History of Telephones, Radio, & Television

Home STEM Frenzy Articles The History of Telephones, Radio, & Television

The radio, telephone, and television are mass media communication tools. They allow for fast and efficient long-distance communication. These inventions build on top of each other and the improvement of multiple technologies allowed for the creation of the television.

The telephone was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. This was built upon previous discoveries of the Morse code,  the telegraph, and then the wireless telegraph.  The first telephone used the infrastructure set in place by the telegraph and Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call using the telegraphic network of Ontario and made a call over an 8-mile distance. Then, in 1915, we had the first call from coast to coast of the USA. At this point, there were various companies established that were focused on providing this service. The telephone had become publicly available. In 1927, we had the first transatlantic phone call, between the USA and UK.



The radio began in 1893, with Nicola Tesla, demonstrating wireless radio message transfer in St. Louis. The invention of the radio was patented to Gugliemo Marconi and it merely transmitted morse code messages. In 1922, Marconi created the first radio station  In the UK, the BBC. Radio was used throughout various countries and for various purposes such as entertainment and news. . It was in 1960 that there was the discovery of FM radio waves, which made the signals more clear and with better quality. FM radio waves change the frequency of the waves, vs AM waves change the amplitude of the waves. The first one allows for better sound manipulation. Amplitude and frequency are 2 physical properties that define the properties of a wave.



Television has come a long way since its first versions. The first TVs were called mechanical televisions. They scanned images onto a rotating disc structure and then transmitted this information onto another television. These were in early 1920. These were inefficient and not very practical.

In 1907, the fundamentals of modern television were created. A. A Campbell and Boris Rosing combined a cathode ray tube with the mechanical scanning system of the mechanical televisions to create a prototype of the electric television. In 1927, the first electric television was created by a young 21-year-old called Philio Taylor Farnsworth. He combined principles of the radio and the telephone to make the transmission of the images efficient. He wanted to transmit the images in the form of a code via radio waves. He succeeded as he also used the cathode ray tube invention from his predecessors. His first image was a straight line. An investor asked the young man when they were going to see some dollars from this invention and it was at this point that the young scientists transmitted a dollar sign on his TV prototype. What a comeback!

Then we have colored television. The idea was patented in 1904, but it was not until 1946 that it became a reality. The company RCA was the one to create standard colored TVs across all of America.



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