Television: The Life Story of a Technology

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Overview

For better or worse, television is the dominant medium of communication in today's culture. Almost all American households have a television; most have more than one. But the ability to send images and sounds through the air, or via a cable, is a relatively recent invention, one that required inquisitive inventors, clever business people, and creative entertainers. This volume in the Greenwood Technographies series will will cover the entire history of television from the early twentieth-century ideas of transmitting images by electromagnetic waves to the current issues involving HDTV. In addition, the volume will discuss the continuing importance of television in the lives of people across the globe.

Television: The Life Story of a Technology will appeal to students and lay readers alike by relating the stories of some of the most influential and interesting events of the past century:
-The earliest engineers -- such as Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin -- whose work ignited the entire television industry
-How the television industry and commercial programming bloomed in tandem with the Baby Boom generation
-The late-twentieth century expansion of cable television and the decline of the broadcast networks, and the new world of high-definition television.

The volume includes a glossary of terms, a timeline of important events, and a selected bibliography of resources for further information.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this history of television, Magoun not only explains the development and basic workings of this technology, but also the processes, personalities, and business decisions involved, and TV&Apos;s impact on American values. In a life cycle framework, he traces TV from its protracted birth through the death of cathode tube TVs and resurrection in digital form. The author addresses issues relating to the paternity of inventions, government regulation, and changing broadcast standards. The book includes B&W illustrations."

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SciTech Book News

"[A]n appealing read for students who should be encouraged to exercise their critical thinking skills to debate whether their digital generation spells the end of television and what they might predict in the immediate future to replace the gadgets that seem to be replacing it now."

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GALE Reference for Students/Lawrence Looks at Books

"The idea of a technography, or a biography of a technology, is intriguing, and this thorough exposition supports the viability of the concept. Magoun discusses both the personalities and the technology that came together to create television….Magoun traces television's origins and development through the advent of the VCR to today's flat-panel displays and the future of the medium."

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School Library Journal

"Tracing the history of television from early inception through golden age, to the current world of flat screens, cable, and satellites, Magoun comprehensively overviews a medium now in everyone's memory. He readily admits that he neither watches television nor possesses any technical training in chemistry or physics, but these have not hampered his research skills. Magoun provides an interesting historical survey of major inventors, companies, and influences in the life story of a technology known as television. He writes from the perspective of a witness to the conception and birth of television. He continues to document its life from the role of a parent who ultimately must witness the eventual breaking away of the child so that it could forge ahead to build the revolutionary digital world, and he follows its eventual death as medium of choice for most people. Along the way, Magoun reveals how society has also evolved with each change in technology. Readers are left with an appreciation for an old friend that they enjoyed having around, as well as recognition of the role that television has played in making entertainment and communication what it is today. Highly recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates."

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Choice

School Library Journal

Adult/ High School -The idea of a "technography," or a biography of a technology, is intriguing, and this thorough exposition supports the viability of the concept. Magoun discusses both the personalities and the technology that came together to create television. The explications of the science may be slightly confusing to those not scientifically inclined, but the human story of the patent battle between inventor Philo Farnsworth (erroneously named "Phil" in one heading) and television executive David Sarnoff is a tad more interesting. Magoun traces television's origins and development through the advent of the VCR to today's flat-panel displays and the future of the medium. Sadly, despite an extensive and impressive bibliography, there are no source notes to connect specific text with the research. Despite this serious flaw, the book is comprehensive and informative. However, the amount of detail, scholarly tone, and lackluster design of the volume are likely to limit its appeal to those already interested in the topic.-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Journalism History
Offers anyone with an interest in the story behind television's history an interesting and highly readable view of many of the people, corporate entities, and government agencies crucial to its invention and its subsequent technological development.

— Patricia L. Dooley

Midwest Book Review

A handful of black-and-white photographs, a bibliography, and an index enhance this highly readable account, sure to fascinate lay readers and scholars alike.

Scitech Book News

In this history of television, Magoun not only explains the development and basic workings of this technology but also the processes, personalities, and business decisions involved, and TV's impact on American values. In a 'life cycle' framework, he traces TV from its protracted birth through the death of cathode tube TVs and resurrection in digital form. The author addresses issues relating to the paternity of inventions, government regulation, and changing broadcast standards.

Choice

Tracing the history of television from early inception through golden age, to the current world of flat screens, cable, and satellites, Magoun comprehensively overviews a medium now in everyone's memory... Readers are left with an appreciation for an old friend that they enjoyed having around, as well as recognition of the role that television has played in making entertainment and communication what it is today.

Journalism History - Patricia L. Dooley

Offers anyone with an interest in the story behind television's history an interesting and highly readable view of many of the people, corporate entities, and government agencies crucial to its invention and its subsequent technological development.

Choice

Tracing the history of television from early inception through golden age, to the current world of flat screens, cable, and satellites, Magoun comprehensively overviews a medium now in everyone's memory... Readers are left with an appreciation for an old friend that they enjoyed having around, as well as recognition of the role that television has played in making entertainment and communication what it is today.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313331282
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Series: Greenwood Technographies Series
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander B. Magoun is executive director of the David Sarnoff Library.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction xi

Timeline xvii

1 Conception, 1873-1911 1

2 Birth of a Technology; or Invention, 1912-1928 15

3 Parenthood: Television's Innovation, 1928-1941 39

4 Working for a Living: Television's Commercialization, 1941-1966 77

5 Children of the Revolution, 1947-1987 113

6 The Digital Generation and the End of Television 155

Glossary 183

Bibliography 187

Index 195

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