How Was Video Invented?

  • Published on:  Friday, March 29, 2019
  • I always wanted to know why film looked better than video. Moving electronic images have as long a history but were invented for a different purpose. This video was sponsored by B&H Photo:

    Huge thanks to:

    Richard Diehl, Video Labguy

    Branch Education for awesome animations

    Minutephysics for mechanical TV animations

    Mark Schubin
    Engineer and explainer, SMPTE Life Fellow

    This is a video I've long wanted to make, about what makes video look like video and, up until 10 years ago or so, not as appealing as film. I grew up with the two technologies (film and video) in parallel and to me they always seemed like two ways of achieving the same ends: recording and replaying moving images. But their histories are quite distinct. Film was always a way to capture moving images for later replaying. Video started out as a way to transfer images from one place to another instantaneously. This dates back to the first fax machine, mechanical TV, live broadcast tv and ultimately videotapes. This history focuses on the early decades of video and not the more recent switches to chip cameras and solid state storage. Maybe that's a story for another day.

    Additional resources and references:

    The Dawn of Tape: Transmission Device as Preservation Medium

    What Sparked Video Research in 1877? The Overlooked Role of the Siemens Artificial Eye

    Video Preservation Website:

    Image Orthicon Tube:

    Film vs Digital

    Eyes of a Generation:

    Television in the US:

    Music from "Seaweed" "Capture a Picture 1" "Colorful Animation 4"