Television History - The First 75 Years
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1935-1941 Timeline



  • Patent interference between Zworykin and Farnsworth ruled in favor of Farnsworth.  Prevents RCA from gaining total patent control of television.


  • Sarnoff evicts Armstrong from the Empire State building and announces million dollar research and testing plans for television.


  • March - Germany begins what they call the "first television broadcasting service in the world".  Low resolution, few receivers.



  • April - First RCA demonstration in 4 years of all-electronic system, 343 lines, 30 frames per second.


  • Farnsworth also broadcasting 343-30 at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania station.


  • Summer -- Berlin Olympics televised by Telefunken and Fernseh, using RCA and Farnsworth equipment, respectively.


  • Fall -- Farnsworths travel to England to help Baird in his competition with EMI.


  • November 2 -- BBC begins two-year Baird-EMI competition, broadcasting from Alexandra Palace.  It is hailed as the "world's first, public, regular, high-definition TV station".


  • November 30 -- Fire destroys Baird labs at Crystal Palace




  • February -- BBC declares EMI the victor in competition.


  • The coronation of King George VI and the Wimbledon tennis tournament are televised in England.  Nine thousand sets are sold in London.


  • France orders the world's most powerful transmitter to be constructed in the Eiffel Tower. 


  • 18 Experimental Television Stations are operating in the United States.



  • June -- RCA announces the Image Iconoscope, a camera tube that is almost ten times more sensitive to light than the earlier Iconoscope.


  • October -- Sarnoff announces that RCA will begin regular broadcasting at the World's Fair



  • March 31 -- Farnsworth begins operations at Fort Wayne, Indiana


  • April 20 -- Sarnoff announces from the New York World's Fair that "Now we have added sight to sound".  Ten days later, at the opening ceremonies, FDR is the first president to be televised,  TV sets go on sale the following day.  Click here for a listing of television stations operating in the United States.


  • Approximately twenty-thousand electronic sets operating in England.

  •  1 September 1939 --  UK-television transmissions switched off due to imminent outbreak of war.


  • October 2 --  Farnsworth signs patent-licensing agreement with RCA.  This is the first time that RCA has ever agreed to pay royalties to another company, since it is founded in 1919.


  • FCC announced September 1st start date for commercial television, but canceled that decision when RCA began advertising early.
  • FCC formed a special committee, called the NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), to decide on industry standards.  There were 23 experimental television broadcasting stations operating in the United States.
  • JUNE:  Both RCA and Philco televised the Republican convention, held in Philadelphia
  • AUGUST:  A young (33) Peter Goldmark announced to the NTSC that CBS had marketable color television.



  • MARCH:  The NTSC announced the recommended USA standard of 525 lines and 30 fps (frames per second).  FCC announced that commercial broadcasting could begin July 1st.
  • JULY 1st:  NBC was the first with commercially sponsored broadcasts -- then, CBS, DuMont and others followed in the Fall
  • DECEMBER 7th:  Pearl Harbor