History of the BBC

History of the BBC

The story of BBC Television -
Development timeline

1873 - The selenium photocell is developed after experimenters discover its electrical properties when exposed to light


1884 - In Germany, Paul Nipkow develops the first television image scanning device, a disc containing holes arranged in a spiral


1897 - Another German, Karl Braun, develops the cathode ray tube, in which a stream of electrons can be directed to create an image on a screen


1906 - A giant leap in radio technology with Lee De Forest's triode valve, capable of amplifying weak, long-distance signals


1906 - Harry Round of the Marconi Company develops the radio telephone, paving the way for sound broadcasting


1923 - Encouraged by early results, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird applies for a patent for television


1925 - Baird Television Ltd is created after the inventor generates a television image - the face of a puppet called Stookie Bill


January 1926 - Baird demonstrates the transmission of a television image to members of the Royal Institution in London


March 1925 - Baird's system is demonstrated at Selfridges


June 1926 - Post Office issues a licence for Baird to transmit an experimental service


May 1927 - the first demonstration of television outside Britain, conducted by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company


1927 - American Philo Farnsworth demonstrates an electronic television system using cathode-ray tubes


February 1928 - Baird transmits television images across the Atlantic


June 1929 - Baird begins experimental transmissions using the BBC's 2LO transmitter


July 1930 - The first television play, Pirandello's The Man with a Flower in his Mouth, is broadcast


April 1931 - Vladimir Zworykin begins experiments in America on an advanced cathode-ray tube, the Iconoscope


December 1931 - Isaac Shoenberg is granted an experimental licence for an electronic system being developed by EMI at Hayes, west London


1932 - The BBC takes over programme making from Baird in a television studio at Broadcasting House


1934 - First successful demonstration of electronic television at EMI


1935 - EMI teams up with Marconi to develop a complete broadcasting system


1935 - the Selsdon Committee recommends a minimum standard of 250 lines, and trials, side-by-side, of the rival systems


Summer 1935 - work begins on broadcasting facilities at Alexandra Palace


1936 - Leslie Mitchell moves over from BBC radio to become the first star of television as presenter of Picture Page


August 1936 - The BBC offers a first glimpse of the service in Here's Looking at You, a demonstration programme at RadiOlympia introduced by Elizabeth Cowell


2 November 1936 - Launch of television as we know-it - a regular service in ‘high definition'. Picture Page featuring Joan Miller was an early success.


May 1937 - First major outside broadcast: Coronation of King George VI


1 September 1939 - the service closes as the nation braces itself for war


1943 - With victory in prospect, the Hankey Committee is set up to plan for the return of television after the war


7 June 1946 - Jasmine Bligh reopens the television service with the words 'Hello everybody, do you remember me?'


1948 - Television news begins with the launch of Newsreel, a weekly bulletin of filmed reports


1949 - A new transmitter at Sutton Coldfield spreads television beyond London for the first time


2 June 1953 - For the first time Radio takes a back seat as the nation clamours to see the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on television

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.