History of Television and Video:
The Early Pioneers

The fascinating history of Television and Video...!

From the earliest simple beginnings to the sophisticated medium that we know today... its history is a long and interesting one!


I'm sure that you'll agree that few things enrapture an audience more than pictures in motion... From the great epic motion pictures made in Hollywood to entertainment on your television or digital device screen to homemade videos of your kids birthday... people love to watch moving pictures with sound!

But... it's been Film...not Video... that has been the primary medium for motion pictures ever since Eadweard Muybridge first developed the Zoopraxiscope in 1879.

However... a revolution has taken place and video has now emerged as not only the wave of the future... But... is taking over the field of motion picture making and visual entertainment of all forms in the here  and now !

So… How is it that Video...  has now become "King"?...

Let's take a look at the intriguing history of television and video and some of the brilliant engineers and inventors that have brought this medium to the forefront in the production of "moving pictures with sound"!


What Were the Early Pioneers of Television and Video Really Trying to Do by Inventing This Technology?

Well... How about definitions 1 and 2? We take them for granted these days but... In the beginning... those were exactly the things that the early pioneers of video and television had to try and figure out how to do!!  Well... They had to figure out... 

* How do you capture, record and process an image, at some remote location, then transmit and reconstruct it (with clarity) at another distant location?

That...  was the problem those early pioneers wanted to solve…! 

The problem of "how can we get a real-time  remote view of a location from where we are?". How can we "be here" and "see" over "there"? 

Well… Those were the questions...  And at the turn of the 19th century several brilliant engineers started a quest to find the answer. Of course at the time…

  • Many people said that it couldn't be done!
  • That it was foolish…!
  • That people would never use it even if you could do it…!

But as we know today… it has been done and done brilliantly! That is what makes the history of television and video so interesting… So many things we use in our daily life revolves around this marvelous technology!

Since it is such a broad subject I'm not going to try to cover everything  that has to do with the history of television and video in these articles but i'll try to give you an appreciation for the genius that it took to invent and find ways to use this wonderful medium and the stories about the people who did it.

It's a very interesting story indeed!


All-Electronic Video Systems… The Holy Grail of Early Video Research…

The real future of television and video rested in the hands of electrical engineers like Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton (1863-1930) who were looking for ways to build all-electronic  video systems.

* Campbell-Swinton's Proposal...

In 1911 ... Campbell-Swinton proposed the All-Electronic Video System with CRTs being used as both the means of capturing  the image and also, receiving and displaying the transmitted  image. The technology , however, to build this system still  did not yet exist!  His hypothesis however  turned out to be brilliant and other engineers now vigorously took up the challenge of producing an all-electronic video system using CRTs as both the capturing device (the early video camera) and the receiver (the early video monitor). 

This was the Holy Grail of early video research…The finding of a way to build a workable  all-electronic video system!

Campbell-Swinton first theorized an all-electronic video system in 1908 but at the time gave very few details, due to one small problem..

Much of the technology to actually build  this type of system had not been formulated yet! 

The theory he put forth however was so intensely interesting to many engineers that they started to work from his ideas on constructing an all-electronic video system.

* In 1911...  he expanded on his 1908 proposal and set the stage for another leap in the formalization of video technology.

This time he would really fan the flames of this pursuit of an all-electronic video system!

He theorized that CRTs not only could be used as a receiver of images but they could also be modified to capture  images as well.

He further theorized that the captured images could be turned into electrical signals that could be broadcast to another location.

The stage had been set and the race was on…! 

Over the next twenty five years... Research teams led by brilliant electrical engineers and inventors such as: Philo Farnsworth, Kalman Tihanyi and Vladimir Zworykin... Just to name a few… Theorized, developed and patented fully working all-electronic television and video systems based on Campbell-Swinton's original vision! Television and video as we  know it... was now  beginning to be born...!


The History of Television and Video Is a Fascinating Story…

Be sure to read the articles here on this site about the history of television and video... They are the story of how these brilliant engineers and inventors created this wonderful communication medium that we depend upon and that we've grown so accustomed to!

The wondrous digital world we take for granted today would not have been possible without those early Pioneer's... Vision, Creativity, Research and Development!


The history of television and video is an interesting story… One that's fascinating to me… I hope you enjoy these articles about the early pioneers of television and video!

Their work has truly changed the world…!


Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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