Thursday, April 06, 2006
Ironically, Faraday was slated for a career as bookbinder, but became an assistant to the great scientist Humphry Davy, and is remembered today by the unit of capacitance, the farad. Faraday was very successful in his career, in spite of not having a great flair for mathematics. The scientists and others provided the solid the framework that enabled a multiplicity of inventors and engineers to conceive of the idea of firing electrons inside a vacuum tubeé─ţlater to become the cathode ray tubeé─ţ to create the world of television that we have come to know and love. Competition to claim the actual discovery of television still resonates around the globe. Not surprisingly, each geographic region supports its own candidates for greatness in the pantheon of the history of television. If you are French, then you probably celebrate Barthelemy. The Japanese will insist it was Takayanagi, and the Russians can make a good case for Boris Rosing. Americans, insofar as they know him at all, will champion the unlikely cause of the Utah farm boy Farnsworth. The facts seem to support widespread geographical experimentation in many places around the world. As with many new technologies, isolated individuals, unaware of each otheré─˘s work, began to engage in activities that would later come to be seen as forays into the creation of television. As strange as it sounds, the first attempts at television were mechanical. A Polish inventor, Nipkow designed a mechanical disk, where series of lenses on a disk turned a full circumference would é─˙refreshé─¨ the primitive screen. I say primitive, because even the next generation of this type disk only had 30 lines per picture. Contrasted with todayé─˘s, 1080 lines of resolution on some HDTV (High Definition Televisions), ité─˘s easy to see how far we have come. The essential facts of the history of television are still contested today. Since the discovery of TV was a worldwide phenomenon, the information is often seen through a prism of nationalistic and geographic bias. The only certain thing is that Hi-Def technologies are some of the most remarkable artifacts of our modern existenceé─ţand they are perched on the edge of even greater advances.