Radiovisors

Some scholars credit Dayton, Ohio, native Charles Francis Jenkins with inventing the first television set in the United States. British inventor John Logie Baird managed to broadcast images on a television a few months before Jenkins managed to complete the same task.

Jenkins used a technology that became known as mechanical television or radiovision. He used radio receivers that had a special attachment, which allowed the receivers to broadcast moving pictures on a six-inch square mirror. Jenkins made the first public display of his radiovision on June 23, 1925, although he said that he transmitted the first moving pictures via radiovision on June 24, 1923. Most scholars believe that Jenkins's claim of the earlier broadcast cannot be proven..

On July 2, 1928, Jenkins formed the first television station in the United States and began broadcasting on the same day. The station was known as W3XK and was located in Wheaton, Maryland. Jenkins's first program consisted of a ten-minute segment of a revolving windmill. Jenkins called his radiovision receivers Radiovisors, In December 1928, Jenkins formed the Jenkins Television Corporation in New Jersey to manufacture Radiovisors, and to market and form television stations across the United States. In 1932, De Forest Radio purchased Jenkins Television Corporation and a few months later, sold the Jenkins component of the company to RCA.

RCA immediately ended production of the Radiovisors and ceased transmitting programs to mechanical televisions. The company decided to cease broadcasting and to end production for a number of reasons. Radiovisors were expensive. The sets routinely cost between eighty-five and 135 dollars per set. Also the picture quality of mechanical televisions was quite poor. The pictures commonly were too dark for viewers to see any more than silhouettes. These silhouettes became known as shadowgraphs. By the early 1930s, dramatic improvements had been made in broadcasting images through electronic scanning television systems. Jenkins continued to seek ways to improve the Radiovisor until his death on June 6, 1934.

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