By Patrick R. Parsons
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Extra resources for Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television
Furthermore, and even more directly to the very heart of cable television itself, was AT&T’s development of that for which the industry was named—coaxial cable. AT&T’s interest in the use of its wires to transmit visual images dates back to the late nineteenth century. 71 During World War I, the company began work on what would become facsimile transmission. It was interested in the market for press photographs and worked with the press associations in creating, by 1923, a reliable means of still photo transmission.
An electrical engineer named Joseph May, looked for the cause of the problem and discovered that crystalline selenium gave off different readings of cable performance, depending The Evolution of a Revolution (Origins–1930s) / 23 on its exposure to light The greater the amount of light, the less the resistance to electricity in the selenium rod. ”58 Smith published his early ﬁndings in the widely read Journal of the Society of Telegraph Engineers in 1873,59 and shortly thereafter, schemes for adopting selenium in the wire transmission of images began attracting public attention.
A lack of venture capital during the Depression kept entrepreneurs out and held down investment by all but a few major players. Those major players, especially RCA, had secured and were holding close key patents and technical knowledge necessary for the advancement of TV. Through the 1930s, RCA’s David Sarnoff reportedly delayed deployment of TV in an effort to protect the corporation’s massive P i o n e e r i n g E ff o r t s ( 1 9 3 0 s – 1 9 5 2 ) / 3 9 investment in radio. Although, near the end of the Depression, he boldly attempted to force national adoption of an RCA TV standard and might have been successful had it not been for the beginning of the war, which put a hold on anything not directed toward Allied victory.