Describing the New: Early Television Article

I’m doing some research on old technology and how people talked about it when it was new to them, and ran across this terrific site with an article about Murry Mercier and TV in 1929

My favorite part of this page is the scan of the news article from April 29, 1929, The Ohio State Journal newspaper.

“Already they have achieved success in developing an instrument that outdoes the magic of storybook fame by showing a scene radiocast from another city hundreds of miles away. This is not to be confused with telephoto which reproduces the picture on paper. Television is instantaneous. For instance, one can watch a prize fight or a wedding ceremony in Pittsburgh. It reproduces the scenes as rapidly as they change, the same as a mirror would reflect them.”

What fascinates me is how someone in 1929 (not that long ago) was struggling to explain in a literal, non-technical way how television worked.
Remember trying to explain to someone what the Internet is? It feels similar.
It’s amazing how something so strange that there weren’t quite words for describing it (even the ‘mirror’ thing doesn’t quite get it) and yet now Television has become its own concept, not requiring explanation at all. It just happens. Now, rather than describing TV by talking about mirrors and lanterns, we describe other things by referencing TV. (“Yeah, mom, the Internet is like TV but not, I mean, you can do things in it and it responds…wait that’s not quite it…”)

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at