History of Television


The first experiments with television broadcasting were conducted in the 1920s and 1930s in Great Britain and the United States. In 1936 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) started the world’s first television broadcast, in America the first program was broadcast in 1941.

After World War II the important television stations in the United States emerged: ABC, NBC and CBS operated out of New York City. By the early 1950s television programs could be received throughout America. By 1960 television was so widespread that millions watched the first TV debate in history between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy, a major broadcasting event.

While the first TV sets were black and white color television was introduced in the early1950s. During the 50s and 60s the demand for TV sets was at its greatest.

Television in the 60s had a big influence on society. For the first time in history images of a war were broadcast directly into the homes of American TV viewers. This helped change America’s attitude towards the war in Vietnam.

The monopoly of the big commercial TV stations was broken in the 80s with the rise of cable TV and satellite television.  By the mid 1980s there were a variety of satellite and cable services throughout the world. The largest impact on the development of television can be attributed to CNN – Cable News Network which started its services in 1980. It was the first all-news TV channel in the United States. During the Gulf War CNN reached the height of its popularity as the only TV station that was in Iraq covering the Gulf War.


Towards the end of the 1990s and during the first decade of the current millennium TV stations focused on game and reality shows. Who Wants To Be a Millionaire was developed in Great Britain and became an immediate success. Versions of the show are being shown in many countries all over the world. Other popular formats include dancing and talent shows. Survivor is a show where contestants are isolated on an island or in the wilderness and compete for cash and other prizes.




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  • all-news = with only news programs
  • attitude = feeling, opinion
  • attribute = to believe that something has a special quality
  • broadcast = to send a TV signal to people’s homes
  • compete = play against each other
  • conduct = carry out
  • cover = broadcast
  • current = happening right now
  • debate = discussion
  • decade = ten years
  • demand = the need people have for something
  • develop = create
  • development = growth
  • emerge = come up, appear
  • focus on = concentrate on
  • format = show type
  • height = the highest point
  • immediate = at once
  • impact = influence
  • influence = impact , power, control
  • isolate = alone
  • major = very important
  • millennium =  a thousand years
  • monopoly =  to have complete control ; no other TV companies are allowed
  • operate = start to work
  • popularity  = being famous, well-known, watched by many people
  • reach = get to, achieve
  • reality show = TV programs that show real people doing real things, or people who are put into different situations in every show; these shows are broadcast over many weeks or months
  • receive = here: see
  • rise = come up
  • society = all the people in general
  • variety = very many
  • widespread = popular, common