This month marks 60 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a glorious event which was the first of its kind to be broadcast on television. In those days TV sets were very expensive – and with only one channel to watch, you’d have to assume that there wasn’t something for everyone!
But the coronation changed all this; a recent BBC report reckons that eight million people watched the ceremony on their own TV, while millions more crammed into neighbours’ homes to watch proceedings.
TV has certainly moved on now from those days, with hundreds of channels dispensing all manner of content – but how has technology changed the way we watch TV?
From the very first demonstration of a TV set by John Logie Baird – which had only 30 lines of picture and was barely detailed enough to properly show a human face – the technology has moved on in leaps and bounds.
Sets were still fairly basic affairs during the 40s and 50s – with wartime construction taking priority – and were only capable of broadcasting black and white imagery. The first programmes in colour were shown in the UK in 1967, and provided a new generation of square-eyed TV fans with new and innovative broadcasts.
Television technology continued to improve in leaps and bounds, as more and more programmes and channels were added, starting with commercial channel ITV in 1955, BBC2 was added in 1964 to provide more bang for the licence fee-paying audience’s buck.
With the advent of new and exciting methods of TV programming, viewers found new ways to enjoy their favourite programmes – including the VCR in the early 1980s, shortly after a fourth UK TV channel was launched.
As the resounding success of TV sales continued, manufacturers looked closely at improving users’ experience with developments like the remote control – initial offerings were connected by wire! – while Teletext launched to offer an additional layer of content, with subtitles for the hard of hearing and a news service to provide the latest info between news bulletins.
Now as TV enters another multimedia age, people aren’t even necessarily using TV sets! With the luxury of smartphones and tablet devices, viewers on the go are able to enjoy their favourite programmes, while the living room experience has also been enhanced with giant widescreen units – and the rather far-fetched but possible option of projection onto entire walls also becoming a reality.
Thanks to the advent of the TV bed, viewers are also able to watch from the bedroom thanks to a screen which emerges from the foot of the bed!
So there you have it; a potted history of our TV-viewing habits from the Queen’s coronation right up to the present day – taking the experience out of the living room!