A Visual History of the TV in 8-Minutes

A Visual History of the TV in 8-Minutes

Recently, during a trip to South Korea for Galaxy Unpacked, I got the opportunity to go to Samsung’s Innovation Museum. The museum showcased a handful of ground-breaking tech Samsung and its competitors had sent out in the wild over the years, with one section focused on the history of televisions.

It was pretty cool to look back on what was, so I thought I’d share some with you.

The history of televisions

In 1925, John Logie Baird (yep, that’s why it’s called The Logies) demonstrated a TV system that could broadcast moving images. It all started with grainy black-and-white images.

The first TV – Televisor (1930)

Baird demonstrated his mechanical device that showed moving images at 12.5 frames per second in 1926, selling them as Televisor. The one pictured below is from 1930 and was a little more advanced than the model he was working on four years prior. It consisted of a neon tube behind a mechanically spinning disk. TV broadcasting became possible in 1929 thanks to the Televisor.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Vacuum Tube TV 630TS – RCA (1946)

The Vacuum Tube played a big part in television history – 43,000 of these bad boys were sold. The RCA meant the U.S. could start getting in on this uncharted area of loungeroom entertainment. It had a 10-inch screen, sleek (for its time) cabinet, and sophisticated electronics. It established a standard, really.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Vacuum Tube TV, TV22 – Bush (1950)

Back to the UK now and the Bush Vacuum Tube television of 1950 played a crucial part in history – at least for the British. This TV was the first in the UK to receive signals from every region of the UK.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Vacuum Tube TV, 14T3 – Motorola (1950)

So, uh, yeah… Motorola made TVs in the 50s. The 14T3 was super cool because you could control the channel, volume, and contrast/brightness. (left)

…and

Portable B&W TV, 14T018UHF – General Electric (1958)

Eight years later came this TV from GE, which swapped out timber for metal. How futuristic. (right)

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Colour TV, ST-100 The Merrill – RCA (1954)

In between those two TVs above, however, we had RCA’s first mass-produced electronic colour television, regarded as a Holy Grail of televisions. But, it was bigger and far more expensive than anything else (even though black and white) on the market at the time.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Stanwyck Color Super TV, 21CT 783 CTC-5 – RCA (1956)

1956 brought with it another RCA television that you could switch between black and white and colour. It was a bit more affordable than the previous colour TV from the brand and as you can see, it was starting to take a more noticeable TV-like shape, rather than just a box.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Portable Transistor TV, 8-361W – Sony (1960)

This small boy had something so out there – it was portable. It also didn’t need to be warmed up like the Vacuum Tube televisions that were now becoming history.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Micro Transistor TV, 5-303W – Sony (1962)

This thing lived up to its name – it was the smallest and lightest television. The screen wasn’t much bigger than my iPhone Pro Max.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Trinitron TV, KV-1330UB – Sanyo (1968)

The world’s first colour television with a Trinitron system, which featured sharp picture quality and high contrast. The Trinitron design incorporated two features: The single-gun three-cathode picture tube, and the vertically aligned aperture grille. It was groundbreaking.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

B&W TV, P-3202 – Samsung-Sanyo (1970)

Next up we have a TV that was collaborated on by both Samsung and Sanyo. The P-3202 (name just rolls off the tongue) was the first TV for export in Korea, a place we all know now as being the land of the good TVs. Interestingly, 500 units in its first two months of production were shipped to Panama. This was a new shape that definitely carried on for the next decade or so.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

B&W TV, SW-T506L Mach – Samsung (1973)

Despite these televisions being displayed at Samsung’s HQ as part of its history, the SW-T506L Mach is the first just Samsung TV to make an appearance in this list. The Mach had a 19-inch screen, and was a transistor TV Samsung engineered itself.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

B&W TV, SW-C509L Econo – Samsung (1975)

Two years later, the TV got a bit more refined. The Econo was also the first TV with an instant image-receiving tube, it also used 20 per cent less power consumption. Samsung reckons this TV had a 40 per cent market share in Korea by 1978.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Chromacolor II TV – Zenith (1976)

Zenith was a U.S. brand that later got swallowed by LG. Zenith shot to notoriety in the late 70s with one super cool invention: The company developed the first wireless remote control. This TV below was a colour TV with a Chromacolor image-receiving tube. Chromacolor TVs saw the phosphor dots reduced in size and the explanation isn’t too dissimilar to how we talk about QLED now.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Super Color 1510 TV – Grundig (1976)

Staying in 1956 and the Super Color TV was a portable colour television from Germany’s Grundig. This television was different from others in this history lesson as it was mostly plastic, thus keeping costs down a little and making it more lightweight and, well, easily portable.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Portable Trinitron TV, KV4000 – Sony (1980)

This bad boy had embedded batteries and a screen angle controller. The screen is smaller than your phone (it’s not, but it’s teeny tiny).

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Econo Vic TV, CT-1407 – Samsung 1981

This, according to Samsung, made the company number one in Korea.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Excellent TV, CT-1871MS – Samsung (1983)

I love the fact Samsung called this one ‘excellent’. This television was an important moment in history as it was the first to receive two different languages simultaneously.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

TFT-LCD TV, 3C-E1 – Sharp (1987)

This little cute thing is a subminiature portable TV that had a 3-inch TFT-LCD display. The era of LCD started here.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Myeongpum Plus One TV, CT-2955P – Samsung (1996)

This was the first colour TV developed by Samsung that had a 12.8:9 screen ratio.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

12.1-inch SVGA TFT-LCD Panel – Samsung (1996)

Whiplashing back to TFT-LCD – side note, TFT-LCD stands for thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display and it’s a variant of a liquid-crystal display that uses thin-film-transistor technology to improve image qualities – and Samsung’s go at it started the company on an obvious trajectory.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Tantus Digital TV, HCH551W – Samsung (1998)

1998 brought with it the world’s first all-in-one digital TV.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

DLP Projection TV, SVP-50L2HX – Samsung (2003)

Another world’s first, according to Samsung, this time DLP. DLP stands for Digital Light Processing. It is based on a chip developed by Texas Instruments, which contains millions of tiny mirrors and these microscopic mirrors are activated when they receive a digital video or graphic signal to reflect the image onto a screen. This model was important as it had a better picture than PDP TVs and was cheaper than LCD.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

LCD TV, LT-40A1 – Samsung (2003)

Staying in 2003 for another Samsung, this time the LCD. This particular television was pretty important in the company’s history because the LT-40A1 was considered ultra-large – 40-inch, lmao – but it allowed Samsung to compete in the LCD among the big dog at the time, Sharp.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

FD Trinitron TV, KV-36FS100 – Sony (2004)

Now for one you’ll probably recognise having in your loungeroom growing up. This television was definitely a turning point in history as it could display high-definition video – it even went some way to blocking reflection (even though behind a sheet of glass you can see me and the display behind me in the shot below), and it was on the more affordable end of the spectrum.

television history
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Viera TH TV, TH-65PX500 – Panasonic (2005)

This was the world’s first HD PDP TV that had excellent colour and less motion blur than the others in its space.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

LCD TV, LN-57F51BD – Samsung (2005)

You’re looking at a 57-inch full HD LCD TV – something so similar to a computer monitor.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

82-inch TFT-LCD Panel – Samsung (2006)

Naturally as we get closer to current times the televisions that graced our history become less rare in the wild and we have an abundance of examples, so there are a few we’ll skip past, but this 82-inch TV was a true marvel. It created this rivalry between what was better: PDP or LCD.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

LED TV, UN40B7000 – Samsung (2009)

The world’s first LED TV – interestingly the blacks were as black as you could imagine and we started seeing contrast and saturation being so thought of by manufacturers around this time.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Smart TV, UN55D8000 – Samsung (2011)

This thing had a slim bezel AND YOU COULD CONNECT IT TO THE INTERNET. Incredible. This was truly the start of the Smart TV generation. Hard to believe this was 12 years ago.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Curved SUHD TV, UN78JS9500 – Samsung (2015)

While we’ve reached the end of the television history lesson and started to head into territory you’re all more than familiar with, I wanted to leave you with a reminder of the curved TV era. Thankfully curving is reserved for monitors.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Asha Barbaschow travelled to Seoul as a guest of Samsung Australia.


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