Network Television

The world's first TV test pattern 1934, from BBC history
1922 - Oct. 18 the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was formed for radio broadcasting.

1926 - David Sarnoff of RCA created the National Broadcasting Network (NBC) for national radio broadcasting.

1928 - May 11 GE began regular TV broadcasting with a 24-line system from a station that would become WGY in Schenectady NY; by the end of the year, over 15 stations were licensed for TV broadcasting; William S. Paley in September took over the failing United Independent Broadcasters network with its 16 affiliate stations and reorganized it as the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for radio broadcasting.

1929 - The BBC began test television broadcasting for 30 minutes per day using the 30-line mechanical system of John Baird.

Zworykin on TV 1933,
from Restelli Collection
1931 - July 21 CBS began regular TV broadcasting of 28 hours per week on W2XAB in NY

1932 - Aug. 22 the BBC began regular broadcasting using Baird's 30-line system until Nov. 2, 1936, when it changed to an electronic 405-line system.

1934 - RCA had improved Zworykin's electronic system to 343 lines of resolution at 60 cycles with 30 interlaced fields reducing flicker. See photos of Zworykin's 1933-34 experiments from Steve Restelli's collection.

1936 - June 15 the Don Lee Broadcasting network in California exhibited an electronic television system developed by the network's director Harry Lubcke. On June 29 NBC made a broadcast from the Empire State Building of a 343-line system; Philco demonstrated a 345-line system on a TV screen 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches. In August the Philco company made a seven-mile television broadcast. Germany broadcast the Olympic Games in Berlin with a 180-line electronic system. On Nov. 30, Frank B. Jewett of AT&T used the first coaxial cable to speak by telephone with FCC officials in Washington.
1936 German camera
from DVB

1937 - Feb. 8 the BBC changed from Baird's mechanical system (improved to 240 lines) to the Marconi-EM system of 405 lines. Oct 13 the FCC allocated 7 channels in the 44-10 MHz band and 12 channels in the 156-194 MHz band.

1938 - Allen B. DuMont manufactured a 14-inch electronic television set superior to the 12-inch sets being developed by RCA.

1939 - Jan. 1 Zworykin and NBC finally were granted a patent for the image orthicon tube after 15 years of litigation with Frarnsworth who still controlled the basic electronic television tube patent. On April 30 FDR opened the New York World's Fair on W2XBS, and RCA introduced its first commercial TV set, the mirror-in-the-lid TRK-12 for $600.

RCA's TRK-12 set from MZTV Museum
1940 - National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) was created by GE's Dr. Walter R. G. Baker and FCC Chairman James Lawrence Fly to standardize competing television technical standards. The first committee of 168 members issued the standards March 8, 1941, that were approved by the FCC April 30, and have remained in effect to the present day. Television would scan at 525 lines per inch at 30 frames per second composed of 60 fields per second interlaced 2 to 1, in a bandwith of 6 MHz. (The PAL standard of 625 lines developed from the German experiments of 1928 and 1931).

1941 - May 2 FCC issued the first commercial TV licenses to 10 stations, with license number 1 going to W2XBS (became WNBET); commercial broadcasting began July 1.

1944 - Dec. 25 the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is created from the Aug. 2, 1943, sale for $8 million of the NBC Blue network to Lifesaver king Edward J. Noble, mandated by the FCC after the investigation from 1938 to 1941 of NBC's monopoly of station ownership.

1946 - AT&T developed a coaxial cable that carried a TV signal from NY to Washington DC; by 1947, NBC developed a cable network linking 4 eastern stations. AT&T developed more expensive microwave technology for long distance televison transmission, installing repeater stations every 25 miles.

Philco 1950 TV from NMAH exhibits
1947 - KTLA in Los Angeles; HUAC hearings against the Hollywood Ten.

1948 - FCC ordered a freeze that prevented any new TV channels from being authorized beyond the existing 100 stations, until technical interfence and color TV compatibility problems were resolved by July 1952. The Republican and Democratic conventions were broadcast from Philadelphia on the new coast-to-coast coaxial cable.

1950 - Sept. 25 AT&T opened a microwave relay system between New York and Chicago; by 1951, the system reached the West coast. Joseph McCarthy made his Wheeling speech Feb. 9, Red Channels was published June 1, the Korean War began June 25.

1951 - CBS color broadcasts began on June 25, using a field-sequential system of 405 lines, 144 fields per second, incompatible with the NTSC black-and-white standard. Due to the Korean War, CBS stopped color broadcasting 4 months later on October 19.

1952 - Eisenhower used TV advertising in his presidential campaign; Richard Nixon made his "Checkers speech" on live TV Sept. 23.

Leonard Goldenson from ABC News report of his death 12/27/99 at age 94
1953 - Leonard H. Goldenson revived ABC with the merger of United Paramount's 1,700 theaters and the American Broadcasting Company. On Dec. 23 the FCC approved an NTSC standard for color television compatible with the black-and-white standard.

1954 - Frank Milton Smith and a group of Cinerama investors bought the UHF station, WROW-TV, in Albany, N.Y. for $850,000. Within 10 years, Smith's company Capital Cities Broadcasting Corporation under CEO Tom Murphy owned 5 major VHF stations and would purchase the ABC network in 1985. Capital Cities/ABC was bought by Disney for a record $19 billion in 1996.

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