First U.S. demonstration of TV
On April 7, 1927, a group of newspaper reporters and dignitaries gathered at the AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories auditorium in New York City to see the first American demonstration of something new: television. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover provided the entertainment, as his live picture and voice were transmitted over telephone lines from Washington, D.C., to New York.
Today we have, in a sense, the transmission of sight for the first time in the worlds history, Hoover said. Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.
A second telecast followed that day, via radio transmission from Whippany, N.J. The telecasts demonstrated televisions potential as an adjunct to telephone service and as a medium for entertainment.
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Newspapers trumpeted AT&Ts achievement as the latest wonder in an age of wonders. Herbert Ives, the AT&T researcher who led the television project, followed that triumph with color television in 1929 and two-way interactive television in 1930, using video telephone booths connecting the AT&T and Bell Labs headquarters buildings in New York.
Television transmission networks
While commercial television evolved through other technologies, AT&T devised, built and operated the system that made network transmission possible. Beginning in 1948 with a network connecting stations from Boston to St. Louis, AT&T constructed cable and microwave-relay facilities that spanned North America.
President Harry Truman inaugurated transcontinental television service on Sept. 4, 1951, when AT&T carried his address to the United Nations in San Francisco to viewers as far away as New England.
AT&T pioneered satellite communications as well. On July 10, 1962, NASA launched AT&Ts Telstar, the worlds first active communications satellite. A wildly successful experiment, Telstar transmitted the first satellite television broadcasts, which were the first live television signals sent across the Atlantic. Viewers in France and England saw President Kennedy conduct a press conference, and audiences in the United States watched French singer Yves Montand and the changing of the guard at Englands Buckingham Palace.