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TV's impact on you

By Eddie Turkson ( Updated: 2014-11-28 13:32

Has television shaped your view of the world? Has it had a positive or negative impact on your views about different cultures around the world? How greatly has it influenced the knowledge you have acquired your entire life? How has it changed the world?

One of the greatest inventions of the 20th century is undoubtedly the television. Television has become a necessity and most people around the world, until the invention of the computer and the internet, regarded their sets as indispensible. From its inception up till today, a television set is an essential asset in every household.

New television sets continue to wow their audiences. Different brands, specs, touch screens and other features continue to dazzle us. It’s still a 21st century marvel, though increasingly threatened by the popularity of computers and the internet, but I doubt it will be replaced.

When assessing television’s impact on the world, different schools of thoughts emerge, and in all that television has stood the test of time. Through television the world became a global village as we see it today. It helped bridged the information gap and still continues to inform the world. It has helped in spreading and promoting cultures from different regions on our planet to even the most remote areas of the world.

The disadvantages are mostly associated with media violence and profanity. There is also concern about increasing electronic waste from redundant television sets due to man’s ingenuity through innovation.

To take you back down memory lane, television wasn’t invented by one person; its advent was characterized by a series of achievements by great scientist and innovators competing to be the sole inventor.

On December 2, 1922, in Sorbonne, France, Edwin Belin, an Englishman, who held the patent for the transmission of photographs by wire as well as fiber optics and radar, demonstrated a mechanical scanning device that was an early precursor to modern television. Belin’s machine took flashes of light and directed them at a selenium element connected to an electronic device that produced sound waves.

These sound waves could be received in another location and re-modulated into flashes of light on a mirror. Thus the concept behind television was established, but it wasn’t until electronic scanning of imagery (the breaking up of images into tiny points of light for transmission over radio waves) was invented, that modern television received its start. But here is where the controversy really heats up.

The competition led to breakthroughs in science by several pioneers including Philo Taylor Farnsworth and Charles Francis Jenkins, both Americans, John Logie Baird, a Scottish engineer and Vladmir Kosma Zworykin, a Russian-born American. However, to the question of who was the inventor of modern television really comes down to two different people in two different places both working on the same problem at about the same time: Vladmir Zworykin, an inventor working for Westinghouse, and Philo Farnsworth, a privately-backed farm boy from the state of Utah. A legal battle ensued between the two but eventually the decision was ruled in favour of Fransworth, whose high school teacher was subpoenaed by the court and had to travel to Washington to testify that as a 14-year-old, Fransworth has shared his idea of his television scanning tube with his teacher.

Today, credit is attributed to not just Fransworth but to all the pioneers whose immense contributions led to one of the greatest marvels of the 20th century.

This blog post commemorates the works of these great men, even as we assess the impact that television has had on us. This day, 21st November, 2014, is World Television Day.

The United Nations General Assembly first decided to commemorate one of the most revolutionary inventions on November 21, 1998. This date was when the first World Television Forum was held, in 1996. The purpose of this day is to encourage countries to exchange TV programmes that focus on peace and culture. The UN hopes to encourage greater international understanding. The UN also believes that making high quality television shows leads to a well-informed and better-educated public. It also hopes to promote freedom, equal rights and democracy.

Television is one of the most influential forms of media in history. We grew up with it. Babies learn language from it. It shapes our ideas and is a window on the whole world. Television sets first started appearing in people’s homes in the 1930s. There was only one channel back then and it was in black and white. Today, we have multi-channel TVs that broadcast programmes live all over the world. We watch wars, floods, presidential inaugurations and sports finals as they happen. Not everything about TV is good. Many people blame it for obesity in children, a breakdown in family communication and an obsession with celebrity. No one knows what the future of television will be. Industry watchers thought computers were going to replace television but it did not, because we can now surf the internet on TV, whilst maintaining its traditional role.

How has it impacted your life and what do you think is the future of television?

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