50 Years of NHK Television

The Full Picure

TV: a cultural medium

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Roots in the Showa era
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell of the United States discovered how to transmit and reproduce the human voice using electrical pulses, leading to the development of the first telephone. The following year, Thomas Edison invented the gramophone, the first voice-recording device. Then, in 1895, an Italian, Guglielmo Marconi, invented the wireless telegraph. The first transmission of a human voice was made on Christmas Eve, 1906, from a suburb of Boston in the United States.
Only 14 years later, in 1920, the world's first radio station, KDKA, went on the air in another American city, Pittsburgh.
Radio broadcasting in Japan was launched on March 22, 1925, two years after the Great Kanto Earthquake. On Christmas Day of the following year, Takayanagi Kenjiro succeeded in displaying the first character of the Iroha syllabary using a cathode ray tube. It was the very day that the Emperor Taisho passed away, so the era of television in Japan commenced with the reign of his successor, the Emperor Showa.


Seeing the world ad it is


The choice of   ee

The choice of "ee"What was chosen as the very first TV picture? In other countries, scientists selected a cross or some other sacred image. In Japan, however, it was a Japanese character:   (pronounced like the "ee" in "screen").
  is the first character of the traditional Iroha syllabary and thus signifies a beginning. The first televised ÉC marked the beginning of a new information trans- mission culture.