Television History - The First 75 Years
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1920s Mechanical Television System

There were many variations of this system developed and used mostly from 1925 to 1934 (3 stations as late as 1939).  This is the first and easiest TV system to understand, but they all operated with the same principles in place.

 The "TV station" is on the left, and the home television receiver is on the right.  The pinholes on the reproducing disk were arranged in a spiral, such that one revolution of the disk would cause the entire surface of the neon tube (plate) to be scanned.  The viewer would see a tiny reddish-orange image appear as the reproducing disk spins in front of the neon tube. 

1931 Photograph of WGBS Television Studio in New York City