15 Technologies That Changed The Way We Watch Television

It’s easy to take for granted how important your television really is.  It revolutionized how information spreads, empowered the common man and helped end atrocities like Vietnam and civil inequality.

But in the bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the TV advances that gave society so much power. Consider this article an eye opener; below you’ll find some of the most important (and oft-forgotten) gadgetry that brought TV and windup radios or shortwave radios to where it is today…

1. Mechanical Tv

mechanical TV

The mechanical TV is the forefather of today’s plasmas, LCD’s, tube sets and everything else for that matter. They came onto the scene a full quarter century before the first electronic TV started frying brain matter.  Back then, the entire family would sit down and catch the program on a “peephole set” that sat on the kitchen table.


2.Cathode Ray Tv

crt tv 
The Cathode Ray Tube, or CRT, paved the road for today’s television technology. Its technical underpinnings were ingenious for the time, leveraging negative electrodes captured in a gas-filled tube to display images.  Alas, the LCD killed the CRT by slashing away TV set size and cranking up image quality.


3.Color Tv

RCA gave us color T.V (God bless their souls). The work ran from 1946 until 1950… finishing in time to prep for the color-drenched hippy years. Their design wasn’t the first to be proposed though; two previous inventors had patented the basic idea but failed to make the system work... almost as good as a midland walkie talkie.


 4.Remote Control



1950 is one year that should never be forgotten, because that year gave us the remote control. Zenith Radio Corp. produced the first one, a cable-attached device, and called it the “Lazy Bone”. It took 6 years for the remote control to go wireless, transforming itself into a gift from God… at least, for any man that likes sports.



VHS was all the rave by 1975 the JVC VHS hit the markets.  It ground the Sony Beta (a competing videocassette format) into dust, and VHS dominated until fairly recently when DVD took the crown. In a few short years, VHS will go the way of the 8-track.


6.First (Proper) Console

Although it was not the world' smallest laptop, for those of you younger than 35, the Commodore 64 was a 64-kilobyte home computer system that turned the world on its head.  Apple, IBM and Radio Shack all had home computer offerings at the time, but none as inexpensive or technologically impressive. Beyond the floor-scraping price, what helped the C64 spread like plague was its ability to plug directly into your television set.




Cable Television (originally called Community Antenna Television, or CATV) was the brainchild of John and Margaret Walson. Deep in the Pennsylvania mountains, the terrain made the residents struggle to get reception from Philly’s major T.V. networks. So Walson, who made his living selling televisions, took action and erected a “community antenna” on a nearby mountain top. The antenna would receive the broadcasts and then siphon them to resident television sets via cable and signal boosters.


8. Satellite Tv


1976 was a big year for the boob tube; first, HBO made the first satellite to cable broadcast for the “The Thriller from Manila” boxing match.  Not long afterwards, Professor Emeritus H. Taylor Howard created the first direct to satellite TV system… in his garage.

Then 1977 comes and kicks the door down, giving birth to the Christian Broadcasting Network (the first cable programming delivered via satellite), The Family Channel, SPACE and Turner Broadcasting System. Today, satellite television is still booming and growing exponentially.


9. Digital Tv


Digital broadcasting to every home via a digital radio tuner was thought to be science fiction until the early 1990’s where it became fact. A group of 200-300 companies pushed for the development of digital terrestrial tv. Imagine life without it now, none of the following technology would have had the same impact without this vital step.




10. DVD’s

DVD discs leapt from the loins of Multimedia Compact Disc technology (MMCD) and Super Density Disc technology (SD), giving birth to a earth-shattering way to deliver visual content.  With better quality, higher storage space and easier navigation, the instant DVD 1.0 rolled out the factory VHS (Video Home System) was on its way to the Hearst.  However, it took until the years 2002 and 2003 for the final nail in the coffin. Those are the years when Circuit City and Best Buy stopped selling VHS tapes entirely.


11. Tivo

TiVo rocks because you can record your favorite shows then watch them when you have the time. Plus, it makes TV advertisements much less annoying.  The first TiVo model put for sale was the Philips HDR110, which acted solely as a DVR (digital video recorder) device.  When the year 2000 came around, the Philips DSR6000 Direct Tivo model hit the streets giving users satellite TV access and DVR functionality.

12. LCD

LCD tv
RCA’s Richard Williams liked to play with liquid crystal (weird, I know) and discovered that he could pull out some electro-optical effects by applying electricity.  Jump forward to 1972, when T. Peter Brody offers the first “active matrix” display for watches and calculators. Those same liquid crystal displays (LCD) have grown and improved dramatically since then, seizing the T.V. manufacturing market and slowly becoming more common than sense.

13. Plasma


Despite how stupid T.V. programming can be, the technology behind T.V. sets (plasma in particular) is quite clever.  Professors Bitzer and Slottow, along with student Robert Wilson, gave the first plasma display some legs. The technology works by discharging plasma between two plates of glass, exciting phosphors enough to emit light in the process. Before LCD hit the primetime, plasma was the big dog on the block and promised to be a definitive CRT killer.  These days, plasmas are slowly losing the battle to LCD and may eventually be phased out.


14. HDTV

In 1981, HDTV hit the television market like a guided missile. Despite the initial splash, it took the widespread adoption of digital TV for HDTV to gain viability.  With the near complete transition from analogue TV to digital TV in 2009, the stage is set for HD to become the biggest thing since the mechanical TV.  Now all that’s missing is full adoption of HD TV sets for HDTV to become universal.


15.  Internet Tv

internet tv

This is the Internet Age, and it’s only right for television to take to the Net. IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television, and it delivers premium programming to your home computer via your internet connection. And just like satellite TV, you can pick and choose what you want to watch and when you want to watch it making IPTV a major win.