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TV Has Come a Long Way Since First Broadcast 90 Years Ago

Catch today’s Google Doodle?

The illustration celebrates the 90th anniversary of John Logie Baird’s first public showing of a live television broadcast. Baird’s TV displayed a blurry, but recognizable, face of a person speaking while manipulating a ventriloquist dummy to a group of London scientists and one journalist.

While the 1926 broadcast on the small 3.5 x 2 inch screen (think roughly the size of an iPhone 5 screen) was groundbreaking, The Daily Telegraph notes that it left the lone journalist in attendance skeptical as to whether the new medium would take off. “It has yet to be seen to what extent further developments will carry Mr. Baird’s system towards practical use,” the journalist wrote.

Safe to say, the idea took off. In a big, big way.

No more tiny screens with a blurry picture these days, though. Now there are 4K Ultra HD TVs with 100-inch screens, as well as high dynamic range (HDR) TVs that provide a greater range of contrast and color for a more realistic picture.

Prices for the latest technology also continue to improve. In 2005, you could pick up a 50-inch RCA DLP Projection HDTV at Best Buy for one small payment of $2,799. Today? Snag a 50-inch Insignia HDTV for only $349.99.

While Baird’s first television might not have been dubbed a commercial success, it paved the way for a sweeping cultural phenomenon. Our living rooms are now centered on the TV and, this past weekend, more than 53 million people tuned in to watch a football game.