The beginnings of mechanical television can be traced back to the discovery of the photoconductivity of the element selenium by Willoughby Smith in 1873, the invention of a scanning disk by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884 and John Logie Baird's demonstration of televised moving images in 1926.
As 23-year-old German university student, Paul Nipkow proposed and patented the first electromechanical television system in 1884. Although he never built a working model of the system, variations of Nipkow's spinning-disk "image rasterizer" for television became exceedingly common, and remained in use until 1939. Constantin Perskyi had coined the word television in a paper read to the International Electricity Congress at the International World Fair in Paris on August 25, 1900. Perskyi's paper reviewed the existing electromechanical technologies, mentioning the work of Nipkow and others. The photoconductivity of selenium and Nipkow's scanning disk were first joined for practical use in the electronic transmission of still pictures and photographs, and by the first decade of the 20th century halftone photographs, composed of equally spaced dots of varying size, were being transmitted by facsimile over telegraph and telephone lines as a newspaper service.
However, it was not until 1907 that developments in amplification tube technology, by Lee DeForest and Arthur Korn among others, made the design practical. The first demonstration of the instantaneous transmission of still silhouette images was by Georges Rignoux and A. Fournier in Paris in 1909, using a rotating mirror-drum as the scanner and a matrix of 64 selenium cells as the receiver.
In 1911, Boris Rosing and his student Vladimir Zworykin created a television system that used a mechanical mirror-drum scanner to transmit, in Zworykin's words, "very crude images" over wires to the "Braun tube" (cathode ray tube or "CRT") in the receiver. Moving images were not possible because, in the scanner,...
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