TV Broadcast Technology

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Broadcasting Technology

The invention of television itself is, of course, the biggest innovation in TV broadcasting. Without that, we would still be huddling around the radio for our in-home entertainment. Or reading, playing outside or living at the movie theater, perhaps. It's almost hard to imagine life without TV.


Over the course of the 20th century, it grew from something that didn't exist to something in nearly every U.S. household, watched by most people for several hours a day.

Television was actually a 19th-century concept that came to fruition in the 20th century. Scientists were working on it in the 1870s, and the word "television" is thought to have been coined by Russian scientist Constantin Perskyi at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris.


Some of the work that led to television was actually intended for the creation of the video phone (which was ultimately invented, but didn't take off in quite the same way).

The ability to instantly beam visual as well as audio information into people's homes has had a profound impact on society. Many believe it swayed the vote in the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon after the first televised presidential debates, and it has undeniably played a major role in politics ever since.


Millions were inspired by watching man set foot on the moon in 1969. Multitudes heard Walter Cronkite say, "And that's the way it is," after feeding us our nightly news, and many of us grew up learning our letters and numbers from "Sesame Street."

Television has been bringing us entertainment, news and educational content for decades.


But there have been some major innovations along the way, a few of which have drastically altered the quality of our viewing and the quantity available to us.

The biggest improvement was the jump to digital.  The FCC mandated a switch of broadcast television from analog to digital in order to reclaim the analog RF spectrum for other uses.


It was planned for either 2006 or when 85 percent of households in the stations' markets could receive digital signals. The mandate for full-powered stations to switch over was eventually set for February 2009 and then delayed until June 12, 2009. This freed up 108 MHz of the UHF spectrum at the 698 to 806 MHz bands, which can now be used for other purposes, including wireless broadband. A good bit of it was auctioned off to private companies; 24 MHz was set aside for public safety uses.


To help prevent people from losing access to television during the switchover, the U.S. government funded a coupon program that gave qualified applicants $40 vouchers to buy analog-to-digital converter boxes for their existing TVs. It also provided some funding for public education on the subject.


So now, most everyone is watching digital transmissions, even if they still own old analog TVs (that's hard to imagine).


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