Television History - The First 75 Years
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1930 Magazines


The First Television Show

1930 Aug POP MECH MAG.JPG (69897 bytes) (70K)
August - I Learn to Fly a Glider (Cover Illustration)

Dr. Alexanderson's 1930 Television Broadcast in a theatre, using projection equipment, is considered by some as the "First Television Show". 

In reality, this popular question of what was the "first television broadcast" or "first television show" has many different answers!  You really have to get very specific about what are you asking, for instance, do you mean --

  • What was the first image broadcast?  (Straight Line? stationary objects?, moving shadows?, moving objects?) 
  • Who was the first person to be televised?  (We have some names, also includes Mickey Mouse, and Felix the Cat!)
  • What was the first television show?  

Then -- you are not completely finished defining the question -- there were several different types of television:

  • Do you want to know the answers for "Mechanical Scanning Disk TV", which existed generally before 1934?
  • Do you want to know the answers for "Electronic (Cathode Ray) Television", which began in the late 20s to the 1930s?

Then -- you are still not done defining your 'first' question -- there were 3 different PHASES of television development!

  • Do you want the 'first' information for electronic 'experimental' television [2 sub-categories below]
  • >>>   "research phase" (early 1930s to June 29, 1939)
  • >>>   "public broadcast phase"  (June 30, 1939  to June 30, 1941)  ------ or --------
  • Do you want the 'first' information for 'commercial phase' (FCC approved) broadcast television??
  • >>>    (applies to USA electronic TV only, from July 1, 1941 onwards)

And finally, do you want --

  • Answers to these questions as they relate to "first in the WORLD"?  --- or ---
  • The 'first' in America?
  • The 'first' in England?
  • The 'first' in France?
  • The 'first' in Germany?
  • The 'first' in Italy?
  • The 'first" in Japan?  >>>>  These nations were all doing pioneer television work at the same time.
  • The 'first' in other countries, like India, Russia, China, Philippines, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, or the remaining 200+ countries?

Whew! ------ the answer is not easy!  The answer is not always known, and can be subject to interpretation.


Immediately below is an article written in August 1930, which claims to know the answer for the first TV show in America, during the mechanical television phase.  What is interesting, is that GE also claimed to have the 'first dramatic program on television', called the "Queen's Messenger", by W. Somerset Maugham, broadcast to four television sets in 1928!  Is that the first TV show?  Some say so!  Who is right?  Just a matter of opinion.

Over time, I will attempt to answer some of the many other 'firsts' mentioned above, where data is available.  If you need a quick answer, write me!  I have had requests for information about Indian television, Russian television and Australian television.  I am in the research phase and will include whatever I learn about these TV histories in later postings.

1930 Aug Popular Mech Mag-Pg177a.jpg (62431 bytes) (62K)
The First Television Show

1930 Aug POP MECH MAG-Pg177b.JPG (152910 bytes) (153K)
Page 177 text

1930 Aug Popular Mech Mag-Pg178.JPG (278763 bytes) (279K)
Page 178 - Detailed Diagram Shows Scanning Projection TV System in Operation

1930 Aug Popular Mech Mag-Pg179.JPG (256176 bytes) (256K)
Page 179 -- Completion of article


The GE Works News  (More coverage of the same event above)

1930 June 20 GE Works News.JPG (71253 bytes) (71K)
June 20th - Front Cover

1930 June 20 GE Works NewsPG6.JPG (369797 bytes) (370K)    1930 June 20 GE Works NewsPg7.JPG (348364 bytes) (348K)    1930 June 20 GE Works NewsPg9.JPG (272963 bytes) (273K)
Dr. Alexanderson's Theatre Projection Television Broadcast.

1930 June 20 GE Works NewsPg11.JPG (157333 bytes) (157K)
Death benefits paid by General Electric in 1930.  What is striking about this list is the young age at which workers passed away.

1930 June 20 GE Works NewsBack.JPG (71314 bytes) (71K)
Back cover advertising - Electric Cooking was a novelty in the late 20's and early 30's.


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