Television systems before 1940

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A number of experimental and broadcast pre World War II television systems were tested. The first ones were mechanical based (mechanical television) and of very low resolution, sometimes with no sound. Later TV systems were electronic (electronic television).

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Television telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Mechanical television television system that relies on a mechanical scanning device, such as a rotating disk with holes in it or a rotating mirror, to scan the scene and generate the video signal, and a similar mechanical device at the receiver to display the picture

Mechanical television or mechanical scan television is a television system that relies on a mechanical scanning device, such as a rotating disk with holes in it or a rotating mirror, to scan the scene and generate the video signal, and a similar mechanical device at the receiver to display the picture. This contrasts with modern television technology, which uses electronic scanning methods, for example electron beams in cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions, and liquid-crystal displays (LCD), to create and display the picture.



The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. It is commonly expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, as in 16:9. For an x:y aspect ratio, no matter how big or small the image is, if the width is divided into x units of equal length and the height is measured using this same length unit, the height will be measured to be y units.


Reichspost was the name of the postal service of Germany from 1866 to 1945.





During the 1930s there were also experimental transmissions from the Vatican - but further details are unknown

Vatican City country in southern Europe under the sovereignty of the Holy See

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.





North America

See also

Individual television stations

Broadcast television systems

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NTSC analog television system

NTSC, named after the National Television System Committee, is the analog television color system that was used in North America from 1954 and until digital conversion, was used in most of the Americas ; Myanmar; South Korea; Taiwan; Philippines; Japan; and some Pacific island nations and territories.

Standard-definition television technical standard

Standard-definition television is a television system which uses a resolution that is not considered to be either high or enhanced definition. The two common SDTV signal types are 576i, with 576 interlaced lines of resolution, derived from the European-developed PAL and SECAM systems; 480i based on the American NTSC system. SDTV and high-definition television (HDTV) are the two categories of display formats for digital television (DTV) transmissions.

Video electronic medium for the recording, copying and broadcasting of moving visual images

Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media.

Interlaced video technique for doubling the perceived frame rate of a video display without consuming extra bandwidth

Interlaced video is a technique for doubling the perceived frame rate of a video display without consuming extra bandwidth. The interlaced signal contains two fields of a video frame captured at two different times. This enhances motion perception to the viewer, and reduces flicker by taking advantage of the phi phenomenon.

Terrestrial television systems are encoding or formatting standards for the transmission and reception of terrestrial television signals. There were three main analogue television systems in use around the world until the late 2010s (expected): NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. Now in digital terrestrial television (DTT), there are four main systems in use around the world: ATSC, DVB, ISDB and DTMB.

Anamorphic widescreen is a process by which a comparatively wide widescreen image is horizontally compressed to fit into a storage medium with a narrower aspect ratio, reducing the horizontal resolution of the image while keeping its full original vertical resolution. Compatible play-back equipment can then expand the horizontal dimension to show the original widescreen image. This is typically used to allow one to store widescreen images on a medium that was originally intended for a narrower ratio, while using as much of the frame – and therefore recording as much detail – as possible.

The refresh rate is the number of times in a second that a display hardware updates its buffer. This is distinct from the measure of frame rate. The refresh rate includes the repeated drawing of identical frames, while frame rate measures how often a video source can feed an entire frame of new data to a display.


720p is a progressive HDTV signal format with 720 horizontal lines and an aspect ratio (AR) of 16:9, normally known as widescreen HDTV (1.78:1). All major HDTV broadcasting standards include a 720p format, which has a resolution of 1280×720; however, there are other formats, including HDV Playback and AVCHD for camcorders, that use 720p images with the standard HDTV resolution. The frame rate is standards-dependent, and for conventional broadcasting appears in 50 progressive frames per second in former PAL/SECAM countries, and 59.94 frames per second in former NTSC countries.

1080i is an abbreviation referring to a combination of frame resolution and scan type, used in high-definition television (HDTV) and high-definition video. The number "1080" refers to the number of horizontal lines on the screen. The "i" is an abbreviation for "interlaced"; this indicates that only the odd lines, then the even lines of each frame are drawn alternately, so that only half the number of actual image frames are used to produce video. A related display resolution is 1080p, which also has 1080 lines of resolution; the "p" refers to progressive scan, which indicates that the lines of resolution for each frame are "drawn" in on the screen sequence.

576i standard-definition video mode

576i is a standard-definition video mode originally used for broadcast television in most countries of the world where the utility frequency for electric power distribution is 50 Hz. Because of its close association with the color encoding system, it is often referred to as simply PAL, PAL/SECAM or SECAM when compared to its 60 Hz NTSC-color-encoded counterpart, 480i. In digital applications it is usually referred to as "576i"; in analogue contexts it is often called "625 lines", and the aspect ratio is usually 4:3 in analogue transmission and 16:9 in digital transmission.

Overscan is a behaviour in certain television sets, in which part of the input picture is shown outside of the visible bounds of the screen. It exists because cathode-ray tube (CRT) television sets from the 1930s through to the early 2000s were highly variable in how the video image was positioned within the borders of the screen. It then became common practice to have video signals with black edges around the picture, which the television was meant to discard in this way.

The 405-line monochrome analogue television broadcasting system was the first fully electronic television system to be used in regular broadcasting.

The invention of the television was the work of many individuals in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Individuals and corporations competed in various parts of the world to deliver a device that superseded previous technology. Many were compelled to capitalize on the invention and make profit, while some wanted to change the world through visual and audio communication technology.

Analog high-definition television was an analog video broadcast television system developed in the 1930s to replace early experimental systems with as few as 12-lines. On 2 November 1936 the BBC began transmitting the world's first public regular analog high-definition television service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in north London. It therefore claims to be the birthplace of television broadcasting as we know it today. John Logie Baird, Philo T. Farnsworth, and Vladimir Zworykin had each developed competing TV systems, but resolution was not the issue that separated their substantially different technologies, it was patent interference lawsuits and deployment issues given the tumultuous financial climate of the late 1920s and 1930s.

The technology of television has evolved since its early days using a mechanical system invented by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884. Every television system works on the scanning principle first implemented in the rotating disk scanner of Nipkow. This turns a two-dimensional image into a time series of signals that represent the brightness and color of each resolvable element of the picture. By repeating a two-dimensional image quickly enough, the impression of motion can be transmitted as well. For the receiving apparatus to reconstruct the image, synchronization information is included in the signal to allow proper placement of each line within the image and to identify when a complete image has been transmitted and a new image is to follow.

High-definition television (HDTV) is a television system providing an image resolution that is of substantially higher resolution than that of standard-definition television. This can be either analog or digital. HDTV is the current standard video format used in most broadcasts: terrestrial broadcast television, cable television, satellite television, Blu-rays, and streaming video.

441 lines, or 383i if named using modern standard, is an early electronic monochrome television system. It was used with 50 interlaced frames per second in France and Germany, where it was an improvement over the previous 180-line system. In the United States it was used by RCA with 60 frames per second from 1938 to 1941.

21:9 is an approximation of several ultra-widescreen aspect ratios, designed to show films recorded in CinemaScope of 2.35:1 or the modern anamorphic format of 2.39:1. The main benefit of this screen ratio, compared to the more common 16:9, is the absence of the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing content in this format, and a constant display height when displaying other content with a lesser aspect ratio.