Skip to main content

The World`s Oldest Television Channel

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

The BBC in 1936.

The BBC in 1936.

When Did Television Broadcasting Begin?

A coworker of mine in Ohio loved to tell the story about the day in 1948 that he came home from high school and heard strange voices in his house!

His mother was usually home alone in the afternoons, cooking dinner for the family. He advanced slowly into the family room to find a brand new television set playing a program. He did not pay much attention to it other than to liken it to a "talking box." he thought it would never replace the movie theater for entertainment.

From the manner in which he described the program, it was likely either NBC's Howdy Doody on ABC, or a newscast on CBS with Douglas Edwards.


Television History in London, 1936

I have lived just 10 miles away from a small and growing privately-owned museum of television and television history and found it fascinating.

I've listened to stories from The Greatest Generation of older folks who went home one day after school to hear strange people talking in the living room -- It was the new-fangled TV set!

In my parents' attic I once found a television from the late 1930s with a 6-inch diagonal screen set into a 4-foot tall birch wood cabinet and outfitted with push buttons instead of a dial. It was weird, but the current set had only three channels, weird by 21st century standards.

People I've interviewed have different memories of the events surrounding the first commercial broadcasts. However, the big official Grand Opening of the first TV Station after years of experimental broadcasts in America, France and UK was most likely on November 2, 1936 in Alexandria Palace, London, England.

Although the development of television foundation technology dates back to 1872, the first television broadcasting station was located at Alexandria Palace.

TV History and Increasing Popularity

The concept of scanning a picture by mechanical means was proposed by Alexander Bain in 1843.

By the 1920s, amplification technology made television practical to use. At this time, the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird used the Nipkow disk in his video systems. On March 25, 1925, he made the first public demonstration of televised moving silhouette images and this was done at Selfridge's Department Store in London UK.

In the 2010s, a TV series about Selfridge's was very popular.

First Commercial Broadcasts: The Great Depression

Some folks recall the first commercial broadcast as being aired in February 1936, but this could be incorrect or a memory of an earlier experimental broadcast. It is all documented in a BBC film tilted Television Comes to London, produced by Dallas Bower and Gerald Cock [BBC archives].

The broadcast reportedly lasted for 18 minutes, from 9:05 - 9:23 PM local time on either February 11 or November 2, 1936 depending on the memory. It could also have been 3:00 PM by some accounts. Adela Helena Dixon (from the later film Banana Ridge) performed with the television studio orchestra. She was also a star of Broadway and British stage and played opposite Sir John Gielgud in Romeo and Juliet.

She sang in the 1936 BBC opening on a show called Variety and this is where the term "variety show" originated for TV.

Scroll to Continue

The location of TV station had to be high in the air because the VHF waves used required line-of-sight reception nothing could block them or they would not get through. Some 30,000 square feet inside an old Victorian entertainment complex, Alexandra Palace, in London was ideal.

The BBC mounted a 215-foot mast with antennas for sound and picture vision, along with a sound transmitter. Intended to transmit over a line of 25 miles radius, the signal occasionally reached into continental Europe.

The opening of the BBC Television Service using Marconi-EMI technology held its Grand Opening for about 400 "viewers" who saw and heard speeches by the Postmaster General, the BBC Chairman, and Lord Selsdon.

World War II

Broadcasting was interrupted by the war in 1939, when the station cut off in the middle of a Mickey Mouse cartoon until 1946, when the cartoon supposedly resumed and an announcer apologized for the 7-year interruption.

BBC on August 26, 1936: The first artist to appear on the screen was Helen McKay. Petula Clark, a 1960s pop star, sang "Miser Miser" on the BBC in 1946.

Lyrics for "Television" from the BBC Archives & Museum

A mighty maze of mystic, magic rays is all about us in the blue,

And in sight and sound they trace living pictures out of space

To bring a new wonder to you


The busy world before you is unfurled - Its songs, its tears and laughter, too.

One by one they play their parts in this latest of the Arts

To bring new enchantment to you.


As by your fireside you sit, the news will flit, as on the silver screen.

And just for entertaining you with something new

The stars will then be seen. So...


There's joy in store, the world is at your door -

It's here for everyone to view, conjured up in sound and sight

By the magic rays of light - That bring Television to you.

TV test picture pattern

TV test picture pattern

America TV Attempt in 1928 and RCA

In 1928, the US federal government, FCC, issued call letters "W2XB" to what is now WGY Television in New York City. This is the first established Television Station in America, broadcasting on old Channel 1, which is no longer used due to calibrations changing on the TV dials. However, WX2B did not receive a commercial license apparently until 1942 when it was renamed WRGB.

They claim to be the first TV Station in the world, but seem to base this on experimental laboratory broadcasts back on January 13, 1928. It broadcast only in kHz and not MHz and had limited range, but issued farm reports three times a week.

I think it could be considered as still experimental television broadcasting, but this is open to question.

Early in 1930s America, RCA experimented with black and white television broadcasts in the laboratory. Then the company mounted antennas atop the Empire State Building for commercial TV broadcasts.

Timeline of Television in the USA and UK

  • Albany NY: CBS Channel 6 - Channel WRGB. This CBS affiliate is one of the the first experimental television stations anywhere, first broadcasting in early 1928 (before the Wall Street Crash) and delivering the first daily programs ever on the air. Next came commercial broadcasting during WWII, but London UK was first in commercial TV. WRGB at Retrieved June 6, 1017.
  • BBC
    British Broadcasting Corporation in the UK. Through May 2017, 832 episodes of Dr, Who have been shown and I have met a couple of the Doctors! Very long success: 1963 - 2017, intermittent.

Ohio's Early Television Museum in Hilliard

The Early Television Museum is a local museum of early television receiver sets. It is located in Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, USA.

From the TV history museum in Hilliard, Ohio.

From the TV history museum in Hilliard, Ohio.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


bluebird on January 03, 2012:

Very interesting, the lyrics you shared about "Television". They made it sound so thrilling...

and it was. At first. But now we see the results

of eighty or so years of broadcasting and the

programming of people's minds. And that is what


Nothing against you or your informative hub, but all I can say is...

All that glitters is not gold.

Fiona on August 13, 2010:

Wonderful Article! I have bookmarked this page and I love to share this with my friends and circle of influence.Its a great pleasure reading your blog. The blog content is powerful.Very Good.

world tv

Paki Web Fighter on February 24, 2009:

gud hub

Mian Tahir on August 28, 2008:

Very good for first televion channel founder

Mian Tahir

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 16, 2008:

Thanks Aura. Do you have a television museum anywhere in OZ? We have a small one in my town that is gaining contributions.

AuraGem from Victoria, Australia on January 16, 2008:

Wonderful info + loved reading the comments attached!

Great hub!

Smiles and Light

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 15, 2008:

goez40! - That is a very good piece of information to have on this Hub. Thank you for something I have never as yet seen. Amazing!

goez40 from florida on January 15, 2008:

Great hub, I don,t remember first tv show I seen but our first tv screen could be made round or flip lever and make it rectangler. Kind of neat

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 15, 2008:

This just in:

Breaking news at CBC News:


The federal broadcasting regulator is imposing tighter rules on media  ownership.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications  Commission said Tuesday thata single company or person can own only two  radio stations, television stations or newspapers in a single market.  It was not immediately clear whether the rules mean current owners will  have to sell off operations if they own more than that.

Visit for the latestdevelopments and check back later for updates.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 13, 2007:

WOW William - Great stories! Thanks for adding them in.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on December 12, 2007:

This is a fabulous hub, Patty. Brings back some old memories. An uncle of mine worked for DuMont after the war and I spent a lot of time at his home watching an 8-inch TV which looked like the 1947 DuMont Clifton. I remember watching the New York Yankees and Joe DiMaggio playing a rained out game in which the Yankee Clipper hit a home run. I remember it because the game was called because of rain and the homer didn't count. Also, the announcers hardly said a word in those days (not even enough to tell you who was at bat!) I also enjoyed watching "Uncle Weathby" on that TV set. Thanks for the memories!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 10, 2007:

Greetings Prince Maak - Complements of the Season! The questions you ask have become a very imporatnt part of Hub pages I believe. Great work!

Prince Maak from Just Above the EARTH and below the SKY on December 10, 2007:

Hi Patty, How are you?

once again you`ve done it. keep it up.

I must say you are a great Hubber, I guess, U work very hard to produce superior quality of hubs. And also your hubs encourage me to ask more questions.(requests).

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 10, 2007:

Thanks Peter!

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on December 10, 2007:

Good stuff! I appreciate the breadth of subject matter you cover. While I have only recently become a fan, I most definitely am one.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:

What a wonderful comment, Kenny. We had 3 channels in Ohio but they played from 6 am to 10 or 11pm, I think. I only watch 2 hours every couple of days NOW. LOL :)

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on December 09, 2007:

We had only two hours of black and white tv everyday when I was 14; in those days, everything came to India rather slowly!

Wonderful hub, I learnt a lot from it.

I was also delighted to recognise that test pattern we used to stare at before they started broadcasting!

We had it without the big chief here, of course!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:


gabriella05 from Oldham on December 09, 2007:

Great Patty great history

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:

I just noticed myself that the pictures are mostly black and white. Fitting, isn't it?

It seems in 1963, tragedy became able to speed around the globe.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 09, 2007:

Patty this is definitely a perfect HUB. But then they all are.

I really enjoyed this one. We used to have two channels only in Belgium when we got our first TV in 1963. The only reason why I remember the date so well is because the whole neighborhood came to our house for the broadcasting of the unfortunate and tragic event of JFKs funeral.

Great HUB

regards Zsuzsy

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 09, 2007:

Thank you thank you thank you!

And Corey, I will email. Thanks.

corey anderson on December 09, 2007:

You are great.....................

If you ever want to be our blogger and make great money, contaxt me!

Corey Anderson

Related Articles