History of Television in the 1920s and 1930s

About the history of television in the 1920s and 1930s, many major events and famous firsts, first transmissions, first broadcast of elections and sports, first tv set for sale.

Tuning in on Television: From 1925 to 1975


1925--While Dr. Vladimir K. Zworykin was the father of television, the actual age of popular television began when, working independently of each other, J. L. Baird in England and C. F. Jenkins in the U.S. each developed the means to produce a blurry image on a screen. These early images were more like silhouettes, but eventually halftone pictures were created. The parts for Baird's receivers could be bought for home assembly in London for the equivalent of $32 per set.

1927--Herbert Hoover, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, appeared on the 1st intercity television transmission from Washington, D.C., to New York.

1928--General Electric produced experimental TV programming 3 days a week over WGY-TV in Schenectady, N.Y. The 1st drama was televised live over WGY-TV in Schenectady, N.Y. Two cameras were used to telecast the performance.


1930--Felix the Cat became television's 1st "star" when he appeared in statue form on an experimental program on NBC. The figure whirled on a turntable before the camera's eye.

1931--On a historic Tuesday night in July, CBS inaugurated the nation's 1st regular schedule of television broadcasting. New York mayor Jimmy Walker officiated at this telecast. By evening's end, George Gershwin had performed "Lisa," the Boswell Sisters had sung "Heebie-Jeebie Blues," and Kate Smith had belted out "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain."

1932--CBS Television provided TV's 1st coverage of a presidential election. Although the network televised results well into the night, Franklin D. Roosevelt was pinpointed as the winner over Herbert Hoover early in the evening, collecting 472 electoral votes.

1937--Irvin S. Cobb, the popular American writer and humorist, spoke before an Iconoscope camera in an NBC experimental broadcast. Cobb, attired in a double-breasted suit and a crooked tie, talked about current news events.

1938--Gertrude Lawrence, the British revue and musical star, appeared with Paul McGrath in Susan and God, an early NBC telecast direct from the RCA Building in New York City. She was one of the theater's 1st personalities to appear on TV.

1939--Standing in front of a TV camera at the New York World's Fair, David Sarnoff of the Radio Corporation of America stated, "Now we add sight to sound." RCA's version of the commercial TV set was placed on sale--$625 for a 12-inch television screen.

--NBC provided the 1st television sportscast--the Princeton v. Columbia baseball game from Baker Field in New York City. The sole TV camera was placed so close to the baseball diamond that the cameraman spent much of the afternoon dodging foul balls.

--In an empty radio studio in New York's RCA Building, NBC-TV staged a sparring match between 2 boxers, heavyweights Lou Nova and Patsy Perroni, which was the 1st prizefight ever televised. However, 6 weeks later NBC televised the 1st real fight from Yankee Stadium before 16,738 fans when Lou Nova stopped Max Baer with a TKO in the 11th round. About 20,000 New Yorkers gathered in stores to watch the contest.

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