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Milestones:Development of Electronic Television, 1924-1941

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Development of Electronic Television, 1924-1941

Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi started his research program in television at Hamamatsu Technical College (now Shizuoka University) in 1924. He transmitted an image of the Japanese character イ(i) on a cathode-ray tube on 25 December 1926 and broadcast video over an electronic television system in 1935. His work, patents, articles, and teaching helped lay the foundation for the rise of Japanese television and related industries to global leadership.

The milestone plaque may be viewed at the site of the research at Hamamatsu Technical College (now Shizuoka University). The plaque is beside a bronze statue of Prof. Kenjiro Takayanagi in front of the Research Institute of Electronics, Shizuoka University. Street address of the plaque location is: 3-5-1 Johoku, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, 432-8011 Japan.

Importance of the achievement

Television has fulfilled the dream of instantly viewing distant objects and events. Television systems have influenced many aspects of human society enormously, including communications, entertainment, education, the arts, sports, politics, economics, science, technology, and has greatly contributed to the process of globalization. Television is now indispensable to our daily life. Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi is one of the pioneers for the development of television. He achieved most of his work independently of activities in Europe and United States of America because at the time, global communications were poor. His pioneering achievements in the development of television from 1924 – 1941 are as follows.

  • 1924 Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi started his research program of electronic television.[1] He believed that an electronic television system would be popular in future. However, he began to study the television system using a mechanical camera and a Braun tube receiver as a first step.
  • 1925 He invented a high-performance Braun tube with a thermal electron
    emission source and grids for a television receiver.[2] He employed new ideas: a thermal electron emission source instead of the traditional cold or gas discharge emission source; and grids to control electron beams, leading to a high-performance Braun cathode-ray tube (CRT) for television displays. A photograph of the Braun-Takayanagi tube is seen in Ref. [2]. Unfortunately Prof. Takayanagi did not apply for a patent for this innovation.
  • 1926 On December 25 he succeeded in transmitting a Japanese character character イ(i) on the Braun tube using a Nipkow disc camera.[3]
  • 1927 – 1928 He improved his television system, resulting in obtaining recognizable images of a human face[4]
  • 1929 - 1930 He invented a method of amplifying high-frequency radio signals.
    and applied for patents.[5] Prof. Takayanagi’s signal amplifier for a frequency range of 20 Hz–100 KHz indicated the possibility of transmission of 20 pictures/sec with 10,000 pixels.
  • 1930 He invented a high-vacuum Braun CRT with multiple control poles and applied for a patent.[6] This and the Bell Laboratories oscillograph made by AT&T’s Dr. Frank Gray were the Braun CRT with the highest performance at the time.[7] On November 16, 1929, Dr. Zworykin applied for a US patent (#2,109,245) for a vacuum tube (a tube of high vacuum), so called “Kinescope”. This tube was the most important single technical advancement ever made in the history of television.[8]
  • 1930 On December 27 he applied for a Japanese patent on “Transmission apparatus using an accumulating method”[9][10] He invented this independently of any information from Europe and the USA, although the idea of a charge storage device was quite common by this time[10]: for example, the patent of Dr. Zworykin on July 13, 1925 (U.S patent #1,691,324).
  • 1931 Prof. Takayanagi invented independently a magnetic deflection method for electron beams in a Braun CRT for television.[11] He applied this to his television system, resulting in receiving most precise television pictures in the world in 1931.[12] Although W. Rogowski and W. Grosser (Germany) built and operated a tube with magnetic focus and deflection in 1925, the Western Electric gas-focused tube probably was more stable and consistent in its operation and continued to be the most widely used oscillograph tube.[11]
  • 1931 He and his group transmitted television pictures of 10,000 elements (80 lines) at 20 frames/sec on wavelength of 84.5 meters from the radio station JOAK in Tokyo.[13]
  • 1932 He invented a sawtooth wave generator using a multi-poles vacuum tube.[14] A similar circuit based on this invention is applied to a moderntelevision set. Philo Farnsworth applied for a patent on a sawtooth generator on May 5, 1930 (U.S. patent #2,246,625) and the generators used in July 1929.[15]
  • 1932 Prof. Takayanagi exhibited a television system using Nipkow disc and CRT at the 4th Invention Fair held in Tokyo on March 20 – April 10.[16]
  • 1935 He succeeded in making his first Iconoscope in October.[17] A photograph of Iconoscope camera made by Prof. Takayanagi is seen and the first picture transmitted by the camera is shown in Ref. [17].
  • 1935 He demonstrated an all-electronic television system on November 12.[17][18]
  • 1937 Prof. Takayanagi invented a signal generator synchronized with interlaced scanning on July 12 and applied this for the Japanese Utility Model.[19] This interlaced scanning on the odd number line is also employed for a modern television set. The interlaced scanning on the odd number line was applied to his all-electronic television system, although the interlaced scanning had been applied by Randall C. Ballard (Radio Corporation of America, applied for a patent on July 19, 1932: U.S. patent #2,152,234), Fritz Schroter (Telefunken), and von Ardenne for the mechanical television system in 1932[19] and had been employed by Philo Farnsworth (even-line interlaced), RCA (two-to-one), EMI, Ray D. Kell and Alva V. Bedford (even line interlacing system, 1935, Telefunken, and Philco.[20]
  • 1939 His group at NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) established country’s first television station and began broadcasting.[21]
  • 1941 Directed by Professor Takayanagi, NHK started weekly experimental broadcasts in May and stopped at the end of June because of the war.[22]

Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi greatly influenced the Japanese government, broadcasting companies, television industries, young engineers, students at Hamamatsu Technical College (now Shizuoka University), and an academic society. He and his group began to study movable broadcasting stations for broadcasting the 12th Olympic games to be held in Tokyo in 1940 with being asked by the government and NHK in August 1936 and built them (four automobiles for broadcasting) in August 1937.[23] However, the stations were not used anymore since the Olympic games were halted due to the war. The Science and Technical Research Laboratories of NHK were consolidated by the reader ship of Prof. Takayanagi through the above research project. He was an active member of the Investigation Committee of Television established by the government in 1937. Prof. Takayanagi and his group were studying radar weapons and infrared image scopes based on the television technologies with being asked by the Japanese army and navy during the war.[24] He stimulated and directed many companies in the early stage of the development of television systems, for examples Tokyo Denki Corp. (now Toshiba), Anritu Denki Corp., Nippon Denki Corp. (NEC), and etc. for making CRTs, photo-detectors, shortwave transmitters, and etc.[25] He had many patents (120) and Japanese Utility Models (31) which were mostly licensed to NHK, Victor Company of Japan (JVC), Japan Columbia Corp., NEC, Fujitsu, and etc.[26] After he left NHK in 1946 and Hamamatsu Technical College in 1949 for JVC, he greatly influenced the government and many young engineers not only in JVC (where he led a VHS development group) but also in the Japanese Television Society as a president. He vastly contributed to the standardization and realization of practical use of television systems in Japan as leading members at the Committee for Television Technologies in 1949, the Research Committee of Television Systems in 1952, and the Research Committee of Color Television Systems in 1957.[27] His many students at Hamamatsu Technical College became leaders of R&D in television industries later such as JVC, NEC, Toshiba, Matsusita (now Panasonic), Sharp, and etc. and broadcasting companies such as NHK and etc.[28] One of his students founded Hamamatsu Photonics Corporation producing photon counters and electron multipliers, and now it grows up one of the major phonics companies in the world. He published 26 papers, 44 presentations, and 13 books that include a book on his philosophy for technologies and life.[29] He founded the Hamamatsu Promotion of Electronic Engineering for supporting researchers of Hamamatsu Technical College in 1937 and many young researchers have been supported by the Promotion.[30] He also founded the Takayanagi Memorial Promotion of Electronic Science and Technology[31] in 1984 for supporting the R&D of Electronic Science and Technology, displaying television technologies, and keeping documents on the history of the development of television. The deep influence on young engineers by Prof. Takayanagi is indicated by interviews in a videotape.[32]

A statue of Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi[33] and Takayanagi Memorial Museum[34] were built on the Hamamatsu campus of Shizuoka University in commemoration of his pioneering and outstanding achievements in the development of electronic television.

The above pioneering achievements were independently made by Professor Takayanagi and his group at Hamamatsu Technical College (now Shizuoka University). These efforts and his deep influence on engineers and students greatly advanced the technology of Japanese television and related industries, which have eventually become one of the world’s leaders.

Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi received many honors for his pioneering and outstanding achievements in the development of electronic television systems. Some of them are as follows.

  1. Honored by the Imperial Invention Association (Japan) on April 22, 1931, August 24, 1931, April 22, 1933, and March 28, 1938.[35]
  2. Honored by the Minister of Postal Services (Japan) on April 20, 1953.[35]
  3. Honored by the Electrical and Communication Society of Japan on May 9, 1953.[35]
  4. Honored by “The committee of honor of the world’s first international festival of television arts and science” in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the advance of television as a medium of international understanding at Montreux, Switzerland in May 1961.[36]
  5. Awarded the Order of Culture (the highest award for culture and science in Japan) on November 3, 1981.[37]
  6. Made an Honorary Member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in recognition of his long and distinguished career in the pioneering research and development of television on October 15, 1988.[38]

What features or characteristics set this work apart from similar achievements?

Scientists and engineers in various countries had developed television systems based on many technologies. In the early stages of the development of television, mechanical systems were widely studied by some of those including for example, John Logie Baird (U.K.) and Charles Francis Jenkins (USA) in the early 1920s.[39] In 1926 Baird demonstrated television experiments using an all-mechanical system for the members of the Royal Institute (U.K).[40] In United States the Bell Telephone Laboratories demonstrated the transmission of television between Washington, D. C. and New York in 1927.[41] Public demonstrations of television broadcasting were carried out in Germany and France in 1928[42] and 1931[12], respectively. Professor Kawarada (Waseda University, Japan) also succeeded in television broadcasting using the mechanical system in 1929.[43]

However, the mechanical systems had many fundamental technical problems. Although many researchers proposed all-electrical systems, no practical systems were established until Dr. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin and his team at RCA invented the Iconoscope in 1933. While Braun cathode-ray tubes were considered for use as a receiver for an all-electrical television system in 1908 by such researchers as Professor Boris Lvovich Rosing (Russia), Alan Campbell Swinton (Great Britain), and Max Dieckmann (Germany)[44], among many others, only Rosing, Bell Telephone Labs (USA), and Max Belin and Ferdinard Holweck (France) had succeeded in transmitting a picture on this tube electrically by July 1926.[45] On December 25, 1926, Professor Takayanagi also succeeded independently in transmitting a 40-line electronic picture on the Braun cathode-ray tube.[46] In April 1927, he carried out successful experiments using the Braun tube, which is the first recorded use of horizontal and vertical-synchronizing pulses generated by means of a photocell.[47] He transmitted his most precise television pictures (80 lines and 20 frames/sec) in 1931[11] although P. Farnsworth was demonstrating 200 – 400 lines with at least 24 frames/sec in 1931.[48] In 1928 – 1929, the important work on cathode ray transmitters was being done by Dr. Zworykin (Westinghouse) and Philo Farnsworth (San Francisco).[49] The only other work on cathode ray receivers was that of Professor Takayanagi and Frank Gray (Bell Telephone Lab.).[49]

Television experiments using all-electrical systems were carried out by Dr. Zworykin during the period of 1924 – 1925[50] and Fornsworth on September 7, 1927[51] although an Iconoscope was not built yet. On June 26, 1933, Dr. Zworykin presented a paper, “The Iconoscope – A New Version of the Electric Eye.”.[52] The disclosure of the Iconoscope marked the beginning of the age of electronic television.

Professor Takayanagi began making an Iconoscope in December 1934, succeeded in making his first one in October 1935, and demonstrated an all-electronic television system in November 1935.[17][18] His Iconoscope employed a photoelectron emission plate covered with finely dispersed silver, which was prepared by his original method, resulting in a sensitivity of over 15 μA/lumen.[18][53]

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) directed by Professor Takayanagi and his group established a television station in Tokyo and succeeded in broadcasting images in 1939, followed by starting public experimental broadcasting once a week using all-electrical system in May 1941.[27] NBC (USA) started experimental television broadcasting from the Empire State building in collaboration with RCA using the Iconoscope in 1936.[54] The German Post Office broadcasted the 11th Olympic games also using the Iconoscope in 1936.[55] On May 12, 1937, the BBC (UK) broadcasted the coronation of George VI using Marconi-EMI television system.[56] The French began television broadcasting using all-electronic system in 1938.[57] The commercial development of television was practically halted around the world in about 1941 due to the war.

Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi was one of the pioneers in television development not only in Japan but also in the world as shown above and A. Abramson stated in his Book.[58] He greatly contributed to television and television related industries in Japan with his education for young engineers and his activities for the standardization and realization of practical use of television systems at various domestic committees after the war.

Refernces

  1. A. Abramson: The History of Television, 1880 – 1941, McFarland & Company, p. 71, 1987
  2. History of the Development of Television Technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), Hamamatsu Promotion of Electronic Engineering, p. 23, 1987. (This book describes the history of the development of television technology at Shizuoka University including Hamamatsu Technical College from 1924 to around 1960. Professor Takayanagi’s activities in the Japan Victor Company after the war are also mentioned. Many materials relating to television technology developed by Prof. Takayanagi such as photographs of inventions (most of them were lost during the war), published papers, patents, chronological table of television technology, and etc. are included.)
  3. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 94.
  4. K.Takayanagi, Denki Gakkaishi (in Japanese), September 1928, pp. 932 - 942
  5. T. Nakajima and K. Takayanagi: Photocurrent amplifier, Japanese patent #104120 applied for on September 26, 1931; French patent #341003. (Photoelectric signals could be amplified by this method in a wide frequency range of 20 Hz–100 kHz, leading to the possible transmission of 20 pictures/sec with 10,000 pixels.)
  6. K. Takayanagi: Braun tube for television, applied for Japanese patent #90593 on March 28, 1930.
  7. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 148.
  8. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 145.
  9. K. Takayanagi: Transmission apparatus using an integral method, applied for Japanese patent #93465 on December 27, 1930.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Abramson: The history of television, p. 161.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Abramson: The History of Television, p. 83.
  12. 12.0 12.1 History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, Appendix p. 7, 1971. (This book describes the history of development of television technology mainly in Japan. A chronological table of the world history in the development of television technology is also included.)
  13. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 176.
  14. History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, p. 34.
  15. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 152.
  16. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 42.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 79.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 K. Takayanagi, K. Yamaguchi, K. Matsuyama, S. Suzuki, Singakushi (in Japanese), 164, 953-958 (1936).
  19. 19.0 19.1 K. Takayanagi and K. Yamaguchi: Signal generation apparatus synchronized with interlaced scanning, applied for Japanese utility model #248379 on July 12, 1937.
  20. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 185.
  21. Abramson: The History of Television, Chap. 9.
  22. History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, Appendix p. 10.
  23. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 77; History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, p. 157.
  24. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 138; History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, p. 160.
  25. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), Chap. 2.
  26. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 226 and p. 337.
  27. 27.0 27.1 History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), Chap. 9.
  28. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 250.
  29. K. Takayanagi: The Beginning of Television Development (in Japanese), Yuhikaku (Tokyo), 1986. (This book understandably describes the Takayanagi’s personal history, his philosophy on technologies, and simple theories and developments of television and video recorder for young engineers, students, and general persons.)
  30. History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 217.
  31. wwww.koueki.jp/disclosure/ta/Takayanagi
  32. A videotape; Endless Dream in Technology – The 100th anniversary of Kenjiro Takayanagi’s birth (in Japanese), edited by Takayanagi Memorial Promotion of Electronic Science and Technology, and Victor Corporation of Japan. (Takayanagi talks about his philosophy and the processes in the development of television and video recorder (VHS) in this video. He also talks about his situation after the war. Many engineers engaged in the developments, and his students mention Takayanagi’s personality, his philosophy on technologies and the public, and words to young persons. They emphasize how they were influenced by Prof. Takayanagi. This video is being translated into English.)
  33. Statue of Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi in front of the Research Institute of Electronics which was founded in 1965 based on his activities in the development of television, Shizuoka University.
  34. Takayanagi Memorial Museum (founded in 1961, see below) where a prototype of his first TV system using a Nipkow disc and CRT, various Iconoscopes, CRTs, and documents on the development of television are displayed.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 History of development of television technology at Shizuoka University (in Japanese), p. 292.
  36. Honor received at the world’s first international festival of television, arts and science in 1961.
  37. Order of Culture (the highest award for culture and science in Japan) in 1981.
  38. Honorary member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in 1988.
  39. Abramson: The History of Television, Chapter 5.
  40. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 84.
  41. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 99.
  42. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 115.
  43. History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, p. 22
  44. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 29.
  45. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 87.
  46. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 94.
  47. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 101.
  48. D. Godfrey and P. T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television, U. of Utah Press, 2001
  49. 49.0 49.1 Abramson: The History of Television, p. 146.
  50. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 79.
  51. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 105.
  52. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 198.
  53. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 210.
  54. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 230.
  55. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 232.
  56. Abramson: The History of Television, p. 237.
  57. History of Television Technology (in Japanese), Japanese Television Society, Appendix p. 9.
  58. Abramson: The History of Television.

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