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Television Technology

Hugh Mackay


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Technological developments have played a major part in shaping the production, broadcasting, and reception of television. Histories of television tend to highlight a sequence of technologies (e.g., the cathode ray tube, fiber optic cable, and remote control) and their inventors (e.g., Nipkow, Baird, and Zworykin). This approach allows us to trace the development of the devices that together constitute television technology, while also identifying the relevant social groups, including scientists, technicians, entrepreneurs, governments, and even home enthusiasts, involved in shaping this emergence and form. Scholarly investigations of television technology frequently revolve around the relative significance of the determining or constraining power of the technology, on the one hand, and the social and cultural circumstances from which the technology emerges and within which it is deployed, on the other. To the extent that these relative emphases can be counterpoised against one another, two broad positions can be identified – positions often characterized as forming a debate about technological versus social determinism. Raymond Williams (1921–1988) is the cultural theorist who first outlined the major issues in this debate, notably in his Television: Technology and cultural form (1974), but also in his essay ‘Culture and Technology’ (1983). Technological determinism , Williams ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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