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Early TV in Japan

 

Who invented television? Opinions differ, largely depending on the country where the question is asked and the company answering it.

But the basics are generally agreed.

1884 German Paul Nipkow proposed a spinning disc with a spiral track of holes that let light through to a photo sensor, to scan an image.

In the mid-1920s Charles Francis Jenkins in the USA and John Logie Baird in the UK tried to turn the Nipkow disc into a working TV system. Baird got further with the idea than Jenkins. But TV based on mechanical moving parts was always going to fail in the end.

Starting in 1927 US inventor Philo Farnsworth patented an all-electronic scanning system.

Russian emigree David Sarnoff and the Radio Corporation of America threw money at the idea and made it work – with the help of another Russian emigree Vladimir Zworykin.

Sarnoff bullied Farnsworth out of his patent rights – just as he would later do to Edwin Armstrong, inventor of FM radio.

In April 1927 At&T Bell Telephone Labs made headline news by sending all-electronic pictures by copper wire from Washington to New York.

In the mid-1930s Telefunken in Germany and EMI in the UK took the development of all-electronic television to new levels, with systems that used over 400 scanning lines and were then thought of as ‘high definition’.

There is seldom any mention of Japan’s role in early television, but JVC, the Japanese Victor Company, will tell you that Kenjiro Takayanagi (1899-1990) played a major and largely sidelined part in bringing television to the masses. And buried in JVC’s vaults there are pictures to prove it.

Takayanagi started out as a teacher, then worked for the Japan Broadcasting Company and joined  the Victor Company where he rose to the role of vice president.

Takayanagi used a mechanical Nipkow disk and a photoelectric tube in the transmitter, but electronic Braun cathode ray tube in the receiver. His first transmission, which used 40 scanning lines, was on December 25, 1926.

In 1928 he sent and received an image of a person, again with 40 scanning lines at 14 frames/second

He built an electronic television camera in 1933, shortly after Vladimir Zworykin in the US, and went on to make a 100 scanning line, 20 frames per second system.

 

The sketch page from Kenjiro Takayanagi’s original patent
First Braun tube made and used by Kenjiro Takayanagi 1925
Japanese characters written by Kenjiro Takayanagi  on the Mica plates of the transmitter 1926

Japanese characters written by Kenjiro Takayanagi  on the Mica plates of the transmitter 1926
Video signal amplifier used by Kenjiro Takayanagi in 1926/7

The transmitter used by Kenjiro Takayanagi in 1926/7 (left) and the receiver used by Kenjiro Takayanagi in 1926/7 (right)
Pictures received by Kenjiro Takayanagi between 1927 and 1928

Pictures received by Kenjiro Takayanagi 1928
Picture received by Kenjiro Takayanagi in May 1930
Receiver used by Kenjiro Takayanagi in May 1930
The transmitter used by Kenjiro Takayanagi in 1931
Kenjiro Takayanagi, 1899-1990, towards the end of his life



 

   



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