Television (TV) is a medium for transmitting and receiving dynamic images and sound. The most common means of transmission has historically been through the broadcast of radio waves for reception by antennas, with cable television later rising in prominence. The word "television" comes from the Greek word "tele" meaning far, and the Latin word "visio" meaning sight, or vision. The term television also refers to individual television sets, as well as television programming as a whole. The first functioning television as we know it was invented by Philo Farnsworth in 1927. The worlds first regular television broadcasts began in Germany in 1929. Television broadcasting began to gain popularity in the United States after World War II, and quickly grew into a highly influential cultural phenomenon.
After World War II ended, television quickly began to rise in popularity in the United States. Early television programming was based on models set forth by earlier radio broadcasts, and were broadcast live as they were filmed. These early broadcasts revolved mainly around the variety show format, featuring a host or group of hosts who introduced other comedy and musical acts. As time went on television programming began to develop its own unique style, giving rise to the now ubiquitous sitcom.
Within a very short time of its arrival, television became an all pervasive cultural force. In its early days people would often schedule their entire evenings around popular television programs. The limited amount of programming, and the live format ensured that people all over the country were all viewing the same programs from week to week, thus creating a feeling of unity and cultural inclusion around these early programs. This only helped to increase the popularity of television, and staying up to date on the goings on of television programs became as socially important as being well versed in literature, or theater had been previously.
The increasing popularity of television also helped to create cultural icons, the likes of which had never been seen before. Many of television's early stars are still very well known to this day. It is almost unheard of for Americans to grow up without having heard of Lucille Ball, or Dick Van Dyke. Television's ability to make stars, and create iconic moments that stick with us for generations only increased as time went on. The rise in prominence of television news also ensured that moments of historical significance would be immortalized both on film and in the memories of people watching events unfold around the world.
Television has been a major force in popular culture around the world since its invention over eighty years ago. The cultural potency of television still shows no signs of waning. Recent decades have given us shows like the Simpsons, and Seinfeld that have had tremendous impact on culture across the globe. With television now expanding to digital formats, and an ever increasing library of programming becoming available online, television is sure to leave its mark on the coming century, just as it did the previous.