“The eye as well as the voice now can be flung through space,” according to UPI.
That was the news report 95 years ago when AT&T held the first public demonstration of a long-distance TV transmission over telephone lines from Washington, DC to New York.
It was 07 April 1927; the device, “Radio Vision.”
Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover said, “Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.”
Television furthered the transformation of communication that had begun with the 19th century telegraph: a collapse of space and time.
“Radio Vision” did not win the television technology competition. As Andrew Anthony wrote in 2013, TV images were poor; equipment, expensive; and reception, limited until just before World War II.
Two years after that historic transmission, Philo Taylor Farnsworth had invented an electronic television that “captured moving images using a beam of electrons (basically, a primitive camera).” His first successful transmission was 07 September 1927.
Farnsworth, “The Father of Television,” was only 21 years old.
In 1930, Vladimir Zworykin of RCA visited Farnsworth and was “enthusiastic” about his image dissector. RCA wanted to buy it; Farnsworth refused; a multi-year patent battle then ensured. In 1939, RCA paid Farnsworth $1 million for “patent licenses for TV scanning, focusing, synchronizing, contrast, and controls devices.”
In 1937, Farnsworth and AT&T entered a licensing agreement which allowed each company to use the other’s patents. When he died, Farnsworth held more than 300 U.S. and foreign patents for electronic and mechanical devices.