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Hopkins Fulfillment Services


, 232 pages

15 halftones

March 2009



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The Life Story of a Technology

For better or worse, television has been the dominant medium of communication for fifty years. Yet it is a relatively recent invention, one that required passionate inventors, determined businessmen, government regulators, and willing consumers. This volume covers the history of television from nineteenth-century European conceptions of transmitting moving images electrically to the death of television as a discrete system in a digital age.

Alexander B. Magoun highlights key events in the evolution of TV, as well as the dynamic individuals who ignited the industry, such as Vladimir Zworykin and David Sarnoff. He also covers the development of cable and satellite television, the use of television in wartime, and the "tube's" changing face.

Based on the latest research, this crisply written, sometimes provocative survey includes a glossary, timeline, and bibliography for further reading.

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

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

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