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Television and the American Society

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The development of the modern day television has been tremendous over the past century and even beyond. This is attributed to the remarkable contributions of many individuals across several continents of the world. The modern television as it is seen today has evolved over a long period of time from its original primitive forms to transform to the current versions and models. The innovations over the years have seen a decrease in size and the introduction of the color television. Most recently, the introduction of LED High resolution television has been experienced not only over America but also the whole world.  The television serves as a key source of entertainment, education, marketing and business.  The TV, as it is normally referred to, has bore many names ranging from the boob tube, the electric box, telly, the eye and the small screen. In the modern day America, it is nearly impossible to imagine homes without television as it has become an integral component of people’s lives. It is a technological resource that brings the world closer to homes and institutions at large. It has been established that most Americans spend their leisure time watching television as compared to those who participate in engaging activities such as reading or exploration. 

This term paper will explore the major developments that have occurred with the invention of television and the continuous innovation of the initial models. Furthermore, the effects of television in the contemporary American society will be explored in the presentation. With this regard, the history of television will extensively be focused on.

Invention of television

It is impossible to discuss on the invention of the television and fail to mention the legendary Philo T. Farnsworth, the great American inventor of television. The invention of television began as an inquisitive idea of transmitting images electronically. The idea has gradually led to the development of our modern day television. Literature has widely shown that Farnsworth had a rough idea of inventing television when he was just 14 years. However, this was not fully realized until he was 21 years old. Initially, Farnsworth assembled camera-like glass tubes which would reflect light and eventually images. This simple idea acted as a massive stepping stone towards the invention of what we regard as television today. In 1927, the young scientist produced the first ever television transmission using a smoky glass slide, light projectors and a camera tube. Though this was an achievement then, the light and heat from this primitive form of television was too much for anyone to endure. Progressively, Farnsworth revised his original model and by 1931, clearer electrical images were transmitted although the heat has negligibly subdued.

The inventor of television has noble reasons to keep pursuing his invention, the key being education. According to Farnsworth, television was an ideal tool of teaching young children. In addition, it would also enable interested adults to learn new concepts and ideas alongside the young ones. Being a great scholar himself, Farnsworth did not entertain the idea of illiteracy and ignorance. For him, there was no excuse for the two arguing that it was the probable cause of people’s problems and inadequacies in a competitive society. Furthermore, television for him was a resource of seeing events, whether news or sports in a closer outlook. It should be noted that Farnsworth did not produce his television system commercially but instead focused on improving his idea over time. Established in1929, the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation faced a great deal of problems largely attributed to financial constraints and competition from prominent rivals such as the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). This over the years impounded Farnsworth’s ability to transform his noble invention into a most likely television dynasty. Just recently in 2010, the Farnsworth TV factory in Indiana was destroyed, leading to the loss of key inventions of the pioneer, Farnsworth. However, this does not demean the fact that Philo T. Farnsworth is a force to reckon with when it comes to the modern day television we enjoy presently.

The revolution of the television

There have been tremendous improvements on the original form of television invented by Philo Farnsworth. This has been la contribution of various individuals whose efforts have seen change at its best. These milestones have been extensively discussed, marking the key developments.

Development of the color television

Based on the firm foundation lay by the pioneer Farnsworth, innovations, that is the modifications of the original idea, led to the achievement of the much fascinated color television. In 1940, a scientist named Peter Goldmark invented the first color television. Though an achievement, the piece was mechanical and bulky, requiring considerable technical knowhow to operate. Over time, black and white television sets lost popularity with majority of the population preferring the color television sets. However, through the 1950’s the number of color television sets ranged in only a few millions in America. Currently, the trend has been reversed and it is usually uncommon to spot the black and white sets in homes or institutions. With such progression though, it was not until 1951 that color broadcasting was launched in the USA.

The introduction of video

The development of the television has recorded other developments such as the introduction of video-cassette recorders. Individuals were enabled to watch movies and replay programmes at their own comfort and pleasure. The growth of the movie industry in America will be solely attributed to the development of the television. Clearly, without television it would take another invention to enjoy what creativity has to offer in America. Entertainment has been largely revolutionized, thanks to an invention made a century ago. The young generation has also been indulged in video board games which is a major source of entertainment. Similarly, this has been a source of entertainment, although widely regarded as passive.

Development of Cable television

It was not until 1948 that cable television was ‘discovered’. This is attributed to John Walson and Margaret Walson who paired their achievement with the sale and distribution of television sets. Initially, the transmission of television stations was limited to mountainous regions which tend to be isolated. This was due to the fact that boosters were mounted in high places so that network stations are projected to potential customers. Seemingly, the idea of cable television earned its popularity, rising to up to eighty thousand viewers and subscribers in New York alone by 1971. Largely the cable networks focused on popular sports such as hockey and basketball. Currently, there are hundreds of network stations providing services ranging from news, sports, weather and children’s programming. The once used large boosters and antennas have been eliminated paving way for the portable modems and decoders which are not only accessible but also convenient for the engaged subscribers. In America, it is an undeniable fact that John Walson is the father of cable television network. Through him, millions have enjoyed television not only through clearer perceptions but also through a variety of programmes to enjoy.

Impact of television on politics

The influence the television has played in American politics cannot be ignored. The Democrat candidate, John F. Kennedy entry into presidency was largely attributed to the television. Presidential debates were broadcasted through television and radio, allowing more people to listen to candidates whilst making their decisions. For the first time, in 1960, candidates could be seen at the comfort of one’s living room. This was an achievement to reckon with, consequently, the success of John F. Kennedy in 1960 has not only been linked to his poise but also to the great role television has played in politics. It is only in the 1980’s that television was fully exploited by politicians. The politicians used television to place themselves as positive candidates, a case in point being the case of the former president, Ronald Reagan. He well utilized the coverage on television, portraying himself as a positive candidate and a potential president of U.S.A. Like his predecessor Kennedy, Reagan utilized for the power of television to rise to power.  In the contemporary American society, modern day politics has been marked with considerable television airtime.

News coverage, political rallies and public debates are televised and a marvel is the ability to be seen globally. Based on the platform television offers not only to politics but also politicians, the electorate is enabled to listen and decide based on their judgment. Politicians are able to be engaged in question and answer sessions from interested individuals in any state of America, conveniently convincing them on the items of agenda. The mentioned leaders among others even in lower hierarchies continuously attribute their success and popularity to the media and most especially to television. With the computer age at hand, focus has been on computer innovation but the television still remains the earliest yet remarkable achievement to be passed over the years. It will be surely enjoyed by subsequent generations to come.

Impact of television on entertainment

Over the years, Americans have been spoilt with a wide variety of television network stations. Television programmes range from variety shows, reality shows, sports, comedy, drama, newscasts, children’s television networks and educational features. Between 1950 and 1955, it was estimated that sixty million viewers tuned in on daily basis for entertainment. During this era, theatre accounted for majority of the programmes aired on television. The enthusiasm on television screens has been sustained with a current standing of millions of television entertainment. In America alone, entertainment is an industry on its own earning all the stakeholders millions of dollars every year. Limitations in the development of television led to similar limitations in entertainment. This was solely owed to the technicalities involved in television production. As earlier recalled, the primitive television system produced too much heat to be endured by individuals. This impounded on any possible developments in television and entertainment. Furthermore, the cameras could only capture images in a single straight line which again limited viewers to a single perspective of any event. Remarkably, it has taken total transformation, innovation and creativity to deliver what America enjoys today in its spectrum of entertainment.

Impact of television on education

The use of television in education is of key significance with first accounted in 1939. Since then, television has influenced the education and ideologies of not only children but also the youth. Scholars have argued that television has been a tremendous educational tool that can greatly affect academic achievement and student behavior.  According to Susan R. Johnson, the writer of ‘strangers in our homes’, the effects of television on the brains of growing children have been scientifically proven, ranging from violence and negative stereotyping of behavior. Television has affected the means through which children learn, allowing them to enjoy measured information at a time (Postman, 375).

Throughout learning institutions, television has been regarded as an attractive channel of enticing children to like school. Television has be regarded as interactive, creative, filled with colorful images and stimulating to learners especially those who re seemingly uninterested in academics. Further Postman argues that the classroom setup is better that learning through television which impounds learners’ development of social skills. This has been largely attributed to the fact that children spend majority of their time in front of television sets rather than engaging in activities such as sports.  This according to studies harms the cognitive and social development of the children and young teenagers. One study concluded that early exposure of children to television dented the brain development of individuals even in later life. According to Stein and Friedrich, 19721, heavy television watching accounts for low intelligence and poor achievement in studies. This may be countered by ensuring moderation while exposing children to television content. Partents should be firm in issues of time control while concerning television content. This way the original benefits of television will be enjoyed as intended.

Impact of education on culture

Television has greatly influenced the culture of the modern society. The recordings of changes have been witnessed on issues such as language, musicreligion, fashion and general lifestyle changes. For instance the advertisement of food products or drinks using idealized personalities has spread to people of all walks of life as in the case of Pepsi or Coca Cola products. This euphoria has been speedily spread by the use of television by the manufacturers. The mass media and particularly television has introduced new ideas and lifestyle behaviors not only among children but also among the adult generation irrespective of gender, language or race. Images and spoken words have seemingly lots of power t influence the lifestyle of people. The television has similarly acted as a convenient medium of acquiring knowledge and understanding of concepts. The development of the American slang has for instance been attributed to the broadcast of television programmes and further imitation of the language heard. This is particularly true while referencing to the young teenage viewers. However on equal measure, television has been a negative influence on the society. It has been observed that television presents adverse effects on behavior and ideologies. This is due to the themes cast in drama, films and advertisements. Violence and promiscuity for instance have been linked to television content that children are indulged in. it is unexpected of television to continue in affecting the behavior of individuals although other channels such as the internet and cell phone technology have created a massive wave of influence in the present day society.


The television is by far one of the most popular technologies not only in America but also in the global front. It is argued that 113 million households own a television set in America alone. It is totally undeniable that television has influenced the lives of Americans. The advancement of the technology has soared to great heights owing to the public support and continuous innovation by individuals. It has been clearly established over the years that the impact television has on economic, social and cultural aspects of life is not only tremendous but also permanent. Generations will continuously appreciate a technology that was born in 1927 by an inquisitive mind.

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