In 1927, the Bell System sent live TV images of Herbert
Hoover, then the Secretary of Commerce, over telephone lines from Washington,
D.C. to an auditorium in Manhattan. It was the first public demonstration in
the U.S. of long-distance television transmission.
Television in those days was mechanical. Hoover was scanned by a narrow beam of light passing through tiny holes in a large, spinning disk that was set in front of his face. The image appeared in New York as tiny dots of light on the 2x2.5 inch face of a neon glow lamp. The picture tube hadn't been invented yet.
Long-distance TV transmission was an offshoot of H.E. Ives and F. Gray's fax technology. If still images could be sent over a wire, why not moving images?