Top five TV technology breakthroughs
When I was a kid, watching TV involved belly-flopping in front of a huge, heavy console television, flipping through half a dozen channels, and settling on a game show, or perhaps a 1980s sitcom like “Cheers” or “Perfect Strangers.”
There weren’t a lot of choices. My brother and I were just grateful for a window on a different world after hours of riding bikes, playing Scrabble and making brownies. We were not part of the PlayStation generation.
Today, watching TV is a whole different sport. The more visible changes have affected all of us. But some of them are more subtle, the result of long-awaited technological breakthroughs that filtered through years of testing and clunkier incarnations before landing under our Christmas trees in pretty, consumer-ready form.
These technologies have transformed TV-watching from a spectator sport into a dynamic, interactive experience that is defined by the user. Never again will even the most tech-phobic viewer have to sit cross-legged in front of a large wooden cabinet and twist a knob to catch something he or she might want to watch. The 21st century is in full swing, with all kinds of incredibly user-friendly components that have forced purveyors of TV and motion-picture entertainment to step up their game.
The top five tech breakthroughs that have enhanced how we watch TV?
Experimentation with this form of programming started in the 1960s, but we didn’t begin to experience its benefits until TV newscasters started experimenting with live feeds in the 1970s. Subscriptions that began to mimic this like Direct TV would get followed later.
Flat panel display
Anyone who ever moved knows how much of a hassle it was to schlep the TV from the old residence to the new one. The aforementioned console TVs were de rigeur in every suburban home. Even the smaller TVs that occupied wheeled carts and chests of drawers were hulking, awkward pieces of furniture. The flat-screen TV introduced new technology that ensured a higher-quality picture and revolutionized how we lay out our living space.
The first HD TV broadcast took place in 1996 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Now, HD TV is entirely mainstream, though the gold-standard 1080p resolution is not yet universal.
Remember when 3D was the format of bad horror movies and flimsy cardboard glasses? Well, now, people can watch 3D movies at home, not just in the theater, and the technology had advanced dramatically. The homeowner must have a 3D-ready TV set, but several channels available from satellite and cable TV providers provide 3D programming exclusively – and not just bad movies, either.
Digital media receivers
These devices are now not much bigger than the size of a deck of cards, and they can store and play gigabytes’ worth of movies, TV shows and other media. Roku and Apple TV are a few of the newest and most advanced devices on the market, but the functionality of a DMR is available in many other commonly used electronic devices, including PlayStations, Xboxes and DVD/Blu-Ray players.
These are just a few of the many advanced in the past several decades that have made home entertainment more fun and lively. I’m certain this list will become obsolete in the next few years, as 1080p HD programming becomes even more widely available and ever greater tech advances shrink all digital storage to the size of a flash drive.