TOP PAGE > P4 The Dawn of Television Electricity Meets the Radio Wave

The Dawn of Television
-Electricity Meets the Radio Wave

1840  Invention of Morse code
1843  Bain invents scanning concept
1854  U.S. Commodore Perry presents and demonstrates Morse telegraph to the Japanese Shogun
1856  Geissler invents vacuum discharge tube
1964   Maxwell's electromagnetic field theory
1868  Meiji Restoration
1869  An 800-meter telegraph line installed in Yokohama
1871 Laying of Nagasaki-Shanghai, Nagasaki-Vladivostok underwater telegraph line
1871  Postal service begins
1872  Tokyo-Shinbashi railroad opens
1873  Discovery of photoelectric properties of Selenium

In the 19th century, humans determined the existence of electricity and radio waves. In 1895, Marconi invented radiotelegraphy. Ten years later, the vacuum tube was invented. While all communication technology has changed people?s lives, radio can be considered an epoch-making invention, as it drastically reduced the time and the distance required for delivery of information.

1840 Information Can Be Transmitted by Electricity

Tele-phone and Tele-vision: To Hear and See from Afar

Since ancient times, humans have dreamed about the distant and far-off. Being able to hear and see what was happening far away was not possible for the ordinary person. "Telegnosis", and "crystal balls" through which people could gaze at various parts of the world, were impossible dreams. In the 19th century, people started to consider these long-held dreams from a scientific standpoint, and Tele (from afar) -Phone (to hear) and -Vision (to see) became subjects in the search for technical proof.

Mankind Gets "Electricity"

The latter half of the 19th century especially can be seen as the dawn of information and communications technology. Certain natural phenomena, previously considered mysteries, were explained. Already in the 18th century, the existence of electricity had been confirmed. For example, Gennai Hiraga, a samurai from the Takamatsu domain, had constructed the first friction generator "Erekiteru" in Japan, based on his studies on an imported electric generator in Nagasaki. Around 1800, Allesandro Volta of Italy verified that a continuous electrical current could be generated by a piece of paper dampened with salt water, and placed between copper and zinc plates. This formed the basic principle of batteries, and was the first step toward making the 20th century the "century of the moving image."

Information Transmitted by Electrical Signal

Around 1840, Samuel F.B. Morse of the United States invented a means of telegraphic communication that converted letters into a code consisting of dots and dashes that could be transmitted by simple electrical pulses. This code came to be known as Morse code. The expectations for electrical communication quickly grew; Commodore Matthew Perry, who visited Japan for the second time in 1854, demonstrated a Morse telegraph to the Shogunate.

Discovery of Radio Waves: The Success of Wireless Communications

Once it was shown that wired electrical communication was feasible, studies on how to transmit information wirelessly accelerated. Heinrich Hertz of Germany was the first to confirm the existence of invisible radio waves in 1887, when he detected the electromagnetic field generated by electrical oscillations, and in 1888 discovered that the characteristics of radio waves are identical to those of light. The discovery of radio waves increased interest in the possibility of wireless communications.

Guglielmo Marconi of Italy conducted the first successful wireless communications experiment in 1895, when he transmitted a Morse code signal from a window in his house to a point 2.4 km away. The following year, Marconi moved to Britain, where his work eventually culminated in the first transatlantic (3,600km) radio transmission in 1901.

The First Human Voice to Ride a Radio Wave

The latter part of the 19th century was indeed an era of media proliferation. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell of the United States invented the telephone, a device for converting the human voice into electricity and vice-versa. This was followed by Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877. On Christmas Eve, 1906, in a suburb of Boston, the first radio wave to transmit a human voice was emitted by Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden.

Demonstration of Morse telegraph (above) by Commodore Perry at Yokohama (reproduction) (1854) Communications Museum

Demonstration of Morse telegraph (above)
by Commodore Perry at Yokohama
(reproduction) (1854) Communications Museum