Milestones in AT&T Television History

(Photo of man using early television.) 1927: AT&T provides the first demonstration of long distance television transmission in the United States, with transmission via wire from Washington, D.C., to New York, and via radio from Whippany, N.J., to New York. The demonstration used electromechanical equipment and scanned at 50 lines of resolution, 16 times per second.

(Photo of woman in colorful dress using experimental color television.) 1929: Using a colorfully dressed operator as his subject, Herbert Ives, the AT&T researcher who led the 1927 television project, demonstrates color television.

(Photo of Espenschied and Affel holding samples of coaxial cable.) 1929: AT&T researchers Lloyd Espenschied and Herman Affel file a patent application for coaxial cable, the first broadband transmission medium, which was able to carry the signals needed for good-definition television over a long distance.

(Photo of attendant at AT&T two-way television booth.) 1930: AT&T demonstrates “two-way television,” an early version of a picturephone. AT&T installs booths in two company buildings in Manhattan and invites guests to make television calls.

(Photo of worker stringing underground coaxial cable.) 1936: AT&T lays the first experimental coaxial cable between New York and Philadelphia.

(Photo of man operating motion picture equipment.) 1937: AT&T experiments with transmitting motion pictures over the New York-Philadelphia cable at the previously impossibly large bandwidth of 1 million hertz. (By comparison, the 1927 broadcasts were transmitted at 22,000 hertz, and a modern broadcast channel uses 6 million hertz.) After this experiment, AT&T discontinues work on electromechanical television, as it seems clear that the future will lie with all-electronic systems invented independently by Vladimir Zworykin and Philo T. Farnsworth. AT&T continues to work on television transmission, expecting that that once commercial television begins, broadcasters will use AT&T to provide the circuits to transmit programming to stations across the country. AT&T already provided a parallel service for radio broadcasting.

1940: AT&T transmits the 1940 Republican convention from Philadelphia to New York, where it is televised to a few hundred receivers over RCA's experimental television station.

(Photo of man operating television transmission equipment.) 1946: Television broadcasting resumes after World War II, and AT&T begins providing transmission for broadcasters over cable between Washington, D.C., and New York.

(Photo of microwave relay station.) 1947: AT&T completes a microwave-relay transmission system between New York and Boston, and connects it to the existing New York-Washington cable to provide television-networking facilities from Boston to Washington.

1948: AT&T transmits the Republican and Democratic political conventions in Philadelphia to stations from Boston to Richmond, Va.

(Photo of man explaining television techology on stage.) 1948: AT&T's television-networking facilities extend from the East Coast through the Midwest, as far as St. Louis.

(Photo of President Truman on television.) 1951: AT&T completes construction of the first transcontinental broadband-communications network. President Harry Truman's Sept. 4 address to the United Nations/Japan peace treaty conference is the first live transcontinental television broadcast.

1954: AT&T provides the networking facilities for the first color network broadcast, the Tournament of Roses Parade.

(Photo of Telstar satellite.) 1962: AT&T's experimental Telstar satellite provides the first live transatlantic television. A variety of programs are sent in both directions, including French singer Yves Montand, a British cooking show and a press conference by President John Kennedy.

(Photo of researcher with television camera.) 1969: AT&T scientists George Smith and Willard Boyle invent the CCD (charged coupled device), which forms the basis for the first solid-state television cameras.

(Photo of Telstar III satellite.) 1983: AT&T launches its first Telstar III domestic communications satellite. Telstar III and the later Telstar IV satellites provide additional networking services for television. AT&T exits the satellite business in 1997.