Today in Media History: In 1927 newspapers introduced television

April 7, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

On April 7, 1927, AT&T (Bell Telephone Company) held the first public demonstration of long-distance television transmission. Reporters watched as a TV image of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover was sent from Washington, D.C. to New York by phone lines.

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Here is a story excerpt from the United Press wire service:

Television Latest Triumph Science Reports To Public

“A new vista of human communication was opened today by the latest triumph of science: television.

The eye as well as the voice now can be flung through space, so that human beings miles apart can converse and see each other as though they were face to face.

The fascinating possibilities of the achievement of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company engineers were scarcely realized fully by those who attended the first public demonstration of television here yesterday and watched Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover’s face on a screen while his voice boomed out through a loud speaker discussing the marvels of the invention.”

The Ukiah (California) Dispatch-Democrat published a photo of Hoover in Washington, D.C. talking by TV and phone to those gathered in New York:

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People at the New York demonstration saw a very small TV image of the Secretary of Commerce:

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(This screenshot of the 1927 TV transmission comes from a video posted by the Herbert Hoover Library and Museum.)

An editorial from the April 9, 1927 edition of the Scranton Republican:

The Marvel of Television

“Man again has triumphed over nature. Another marvel of the world has been written into history. The Television, which has long engrossed the attention of scientists, is with us. It is now possible to see the person with whom you are conversing by telephone.

At the same time a new name has been placed in the dictionary. ‘Television’ means just what the conjunction of the words indicates. At the test this week in New York a large group of men seated in a darkened room saw Mr. Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce, very clearly while he read an address into a telephone transmitter.

….There is no question that man has accomplished another marvel, which suggests further possibilities by radio and phonograph, combined with modern photography.

Well might we ask, ‘What next?'”

Although television technology was developed in the 1920s, it would be the late 1940s before it became commercially popular.

Near the end of World War II the following film was produced to introduce soldiers to the potential of this new medium.

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