TOP PAGE > P7 Kenjiro Takayanagi:The Father of Japanese Television

Kenjiro Takayanagi:
The Father of
Japanese Television

1884  Invention of Nipkow disk
1923 Zworykin applies for the first patent for an all-electric TV system
1925 Baird invents the world's first experimental TV with mechanical scanning
1926 Invention of the Yagi and Uda antenna
1926 Takayanagi succeeds in displaying the character "イ" (December 25)
1928 Takayanagi succeeds in the experimental TV transmission of a human image (40 scanning lines, 14 frames/second)
1930 Public experiments using Hamamatsu Industrial High School's TV system and Waseda University's TV system.
1930 NHK Technical Research Laboratories begin TV studies
1931 Takayanagi builds a 100 scanning line, 20 frames/second TV set.
1936 Takayanagi completes all-electric TV system (245 scanning lines)

Kenjiro Takayanagi had long dreamed of a "wireless distance vision" that could reproduce scenes from distant places. On December 25, 1926, he succeeded in displaying the Japanese character "イ" on a Braun tube. The Emperor Taisho passed away on that very same day; thus, TV in Japan began its historical journey with the start of the Showa era. Research on TV by Takayanagi's team and NHK STRL proceeded amidst intense global competition.

1926 Kenjiro Takayanagi Displays the Character "イ" on TV

Kenjiro Takayanagi: One of the World's Premier Innovators

In Japan, Hamamatsu Industrial High School, Waseda University, and other such institutions began researching television at the end of the Taisho era. It is said that engineer Kenjiro Takayanagi (1899-1990) resolved to work in television after he saw the illustration of a television of the future in a French magazine in 1923. By 1925, Takayanagi had begun work on a television set that would use electrical devices for both imaging and image reception. Later, under the technical and experimental conditions of the time, Takayanagi constructed a system that utilized a mechanical Nipkow disk and a photoelectric tube in the transmitting device, and an electric Braun tube in the receiving device. He successfully displayed a clear image of the character "イ" on a Braun tube on December 25, 1926 (on a mechanical and electrical system with 40 scanning lines). This was followed by the successful experimental TV transmission of an image of a person in 1928 (40 scanning lines, 14 frames/second).

Two TV systems, one from Hamamatsu Industrial High School and one from Waseda University, were demonstrated and tested at the 5th anniversary exhibition of radio broadcasting in 1930.

All-Electric TV System Completed

The NHK Technical Research Laboratories, established in 1930, also initiated research on television around this time. Takayanagi successfully conducted a TV experiment with a 100 scanning line, 20 frames per second system, and Tokyo Denki K.K. conducted an experiment using a 120 scanning line system employing a Farnsworth tube.

Zworykin of the United States followed with the invention of an image pickup tube, iconoscope, by in 1931; this innovation shook the world. Immediately afterwards, Takayanagi's team test manufactured their own iconoscope (220 scanning lines, 20 frames/second), and completed an all-electric TV system with 245 scanning lines, interlaced scanning, and transmission at 30 frames per second. Further improvements were made by Takayanagi's team, and in 1937, they constructed a TV set with 441 scanning lines at 30 frames per second, at the time the world's best, and nearly equivalent to present-day systems. In 1939, NEC and Toshiba developed the first domestically-manufactured TV set.

The Focus of Global Competition in the 1930s: Image Resolution

The 1930s saw preparations for the implementation of TV broadcasting in Europe. This was especially true with regard to Germany, who was getting ready to broadcast the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and had been mandated with a government initiative and the claim that the country's prestige was at stake. The very first experimental TV broadcast was conducted in March 1935 in Germany. The first true TV broadcast took place in Britain, and employed the groundbreaking 405 scanning line system. In Japan, the Television Research Committee adopted the provisional standard of a 441 scanning line, 25 frame-per-second, interlaced scanning system in 1938.