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Timeline of electrical and electronic engineering

The following timeline tables list the discoveries and in- ventions in the history of electrical and electronic engi- neering. [1][2]

1 History of discoveries timeline

2 History of associated inventions timeline

3 Consumer Electronics

3.1 1843-1923: From electromechanics to electronics

3.1 1843-1923: From electromechanics to electronics Thomas Edison 's phonograph • 1843: Watchmaker

1843: Watchmaker Alexander Bain (inventor) de- velops the basic concept of displaying images as points with different brightness values.

1848: Frederick Collier Bakewell invents the first wirephoto machine, an early fax machine

1861: Grade school teacher Philipp Reis presents his telephone in Frankfurt, inventing the loudspeaker as a by-product.

1867: French poet and philosopher Charles Cros (1842 - 1888) presents the construction principle of a phonograph in his 'paréophone', which turned out not to be a commercial success at the time.

1867: James Clerk Maxwell (1831 - 1879) devel- ops a theory predicting the existence of electromag- netic waves and establishes Maxwell’s equations to describe their properties. Together with the Lorentz force law, these equations form the foundation for classical electrodynamics and classical optics as well as electric circuits.


1874: Ferdinand Braun discovers the rectifier effect

1877: Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931) invents the first phonograph, using a tin foil cylinder. For the first time sounds could be recorded and played. A phonograph horn with membrane and needle was ar- ranged in such a way that the needle had contact to the tinfoil.

1880: the American physicist Charles Sumner Tain- ter discovers that many disadvantages of Edison’s cylinders can be eliminated if the soundtrack is ar- ranged in spiral form and engraved in a flat, round disk. Technical problems soon ended these experi- ments. Still, Tainter is regarded as the inventor of the gramophone record.

1884: Paul Nipkow obtains a patent for his Nipkow disk, an image scanning device that reads im- ages serially, which constitutes the foundation for mechanical television. Two years later his patent runs out.

1886: Heinrich Hertz succeeds in proving the ex- istence of electromagnetic waves for the first time - now the groundwork for wireless telegraphy and radio broadcasting in physical science is laid.

1887: Unaware of Charles Sumner Tainter's ex- periments, German-American Emil Berliner has his phonograph patented. He used a disk instead of

a cylinder, primarily to avoid infringing on Edi-

son’s patent. Quickly it becomes obvious that flat Gramophone records are easier to duplicate and



Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922) signif- icantly reduces interfering noises by using a wax cylinder instead of tin foil. This paves the way to commercial success for the improved phonograph.

American Oberlin Smith describes a process to record audio using a cotton thread with in- tegrated fine wire clippings. This makes reel- to-reel audio tape recording possible.




The phonograph becomes faster and more convenient due to an electric motor. The elec- tric motor brings on the first juke box with cylinders - even before flat disk records were widely available.

Thomas Edison discovers thermionic emis- sion. To this day, this effect forms the basis for the vacuum tube and the cathode ray tube.

approximately 1893: The invention of the selenium phototube allows the conversion of brightness val- ues into electrical signals. The principle is applied in wirephoto and television technology for a short time. Selenium is used in light meters for the next 50 years.

Selenium is used in light meters for the next 50 years. Cinématographe camera by the Lumière

Cinématographe camera by the Lumière brothers in 1895 (ref 86.5822) at the French Museum of Photography in Bièvres, Es- sonne, France

1895: Auguste Lumiere's cinematograph displays moving images for the first time. In the same year, brothers Emil and Max Skladanowsky present their “Bioscop” in Berlin.


Ferdinand Braun invents the “inertialess cath- ode ray oscillograph tube”, a principle which remained unchanged in television picture tubes.

The Italian Guglielmo Marconi transmits wireless telegraph messages by electromag- netic waves over a distance of five kilometers.


The Danish physicist Valdemar Poulsen cre-

ates the world’s first magnetic recording and reproduction, using a 1 mm thick steel wire as

a magnetizable carrier.

Nikola Tesla demonstrated the first wireless remote control of a model ship.

1899: The dog “Nipper” is used in "His Master’s Voice", the trademark for gramophones and records.


Otto von Bronk patented his “Method and ap- paratus for remote visualization of images and objects with temporary resolution of the im- ages in parallel rows of dots”. This patent, originally developed for phototelegraphy, im- pacted the development of color television, particularly the NTSC implementation.

For the first time audio records are printed with paper labels in the middle.

1903: Guglielmo Marconi provides evidence that wireless telegraphic communication is possible over long distances, such as across the Atlantic. He used a transmitter developed by Ferdinand Braun.


For the first time, double-sided records, and those with a diameter of 30 cm are produced, increasing playing time up to 11 minutes (5.5 minutes per side). These are created by Odeon in Berlin and debuted at the Leipzig Spring Fair.

The German physicist Arthur Korn developed the first practical method for telegraphy.

1905: The Englishman Sir John Ambrose Fleming invents the first electron tube.


Robert von Lieben patented his “inertia work- ing cathode-ray-relays”. By 1910 he devel-

oped this into the first real tube amplifier, by creating a triode. His invention of the triode

is almost simultaneously created by the Amer-

Max Dieckmann and Gustav Glage use the Braun tube for playback of 20-line black-and- white images.

The first jukebox with records comes on the market.


1924-1959: From cathode ray tube to stereo audio and TV


American Brigadier General Henry Harrison Chase Dunwoody files for a patent for a car- borundum steel detector for use in a crystal ra- dio, an improved version of the Cat’s-whisker detector. It is sometimes credited as the first semiconductor in history. The envelope detec- tor is an important part of every radio receiver.

1907: Rosenthal puts in his image telegraph for the first time a photocell.

1911: First film studios are created in Hollywood and Potsdam- Babelsberg .

1912: The first radio receiver is created, in accor- dance with the Audion principle.

1913: The legal battle over the invention of the elec- tron tube between Robert von Lieben and Lee de Forest is decided. The electron tube is replaced by

a high vacuum in the glass flask with significantly improved properties.

Alexander Meissner patented his process “feedback for generating oscillations”, by his development of a radio station using an elec- tron tube .

The Englishman Arthur Berry submits a patent on the manufacture of printed circuits by etched metal.

1915: Carl Benedicks leads basic studies in Swe- den on the electrical properties of silicon and germanium. Due to the emerging tube technology, however, interest in semiconductors remains low until after the Second World War.


Based on previous findings of the Englishman Oliver Lodge, the Frenchman Lucien Levy de- velops a radio receiver with frequency tuning using a resonant circuit.

1919: Charlie Chaplin founded the Hollywood film production and distribution company United Artists

1920: The first regularly operating radio sta-

tion KDKA goes on air on 2 November 1920 in Philadelphia, USA. It is the first time electronics are used to transmit information and entertainment to the public at large. The same year in Germany an in- strumental concert was broadcast on the radio from

a long-wave transmitter in Wusterhausen.

1922: J. McWilliams Stone invents the first portable radio receiver. George Frost builds the first “car ra- dio” in his Ford Model T.


The 15-year-old Manfred von Ardenne is granted his first patent for an electron tube hav- ing a plurality of electrodes. Siegmund Loewe (1885-1962) builds with the tube his first radio receiver “Loewe Opta-".

The Hungarian engineer Dénes Mihály patented an image scanning with line de- flection, in which each point of an image is scanned ten times per second by a selenium cell.

August Karolus (1893-1972) invents the Kerr cell, an almost inertia-free conversion of elec- trical pulses into light signals. He was granted a patent for his method of transmitting slides.

Vladimir Kosma developed the first television camera tube, the Ikonoskop, using the Braun tube.

The German State Secretary Karl August Bre- dow founded the first German broadcasting or- ganization. By lifting the ban on broadcast re- ception and the opening of the first private ra- dio station, the development of radio as a mass medium begins.

3.2 1924-1959: From cathode ray tube to stereo audio and TV

1924: the first radio receivers are exhibited at the Berlin Radio Show


Brunswick Records in Dubuque, Iowa pro- duced their first record player, the Brunswick Panatrope with a pickup, amplifier and loud- speaker

In the American Bell Laboratories, a method for recording of records obtained by micro- phone and tube amps for series production. Also in Germany working on it is ongoing since 1922. 1925 appear the first electrically recorded disks in both countries.

At the Leipzig Spring Fair, the first miniature camera "Leica" is presented to the public.

John Logie Baird performs the first screening of a living head with a resolution of 30 vertical lines using a Nipkow disk.

August Karolus demonstrated in Germany television with 48 lines and ten image changes per second.


Edison developed the first "LP". By dense grooves (16 grooves on 1 mm) and the reduc- tion of speed to 80 min 1 (later 78 min 1



) increases the playing time up to 2 times 20 minutes. He carries himself with the decline of his phonograph business.

The German State Railroad offers a cordless telephone service in moving trains between Berlin and Hamburg - the idea of mobile tele- phony is born.

John Logie Baird developed the first commer- cial television set in the world. It was not until 1930, he is called a " telescreen sold “at a price of 20 pounds.


The first fully electronic music boxes ("Jukeboxes") used in the USA on the market.

German Grammophon on sale due to a li- cense agreement with the Brunswick-Balke- Collender Company. Its first fully electronic turntables.

The first industrially manufactured car radio , the “Philco Transitone” from the “Storage Bat- tery Co.” in Philadelphia, USA, comes on the market.

The first shortwave radio - Rundfunkübertra- gung overseas broadcast by the station PCJJ the Philips factories in Eindhoven in the Dutch colonies.

Opening of the first regular telegraphy - Dienstes between Berlin and Vienna.

First commercial sound films ("The Jazz Singer", USA) using the “Needle sound” back in sync with the film screening for LPs over loudspeakers.

First public television broadcasts in the UK by John Logie Baird between London and Glas- gow and in the USA by Frederic Eugene Ives (1882-1953) between Washington and New York.

The American inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906-1971) developed in Los Angeles, the first fully electronic television system in the world.

John Logie Baird developed his Phonovision, the first videodisc player. 30-line television images are stored on shellac records. At 78 RPM mechanically scanned, the images can be played back on his “telescreen”. It could not play sound nor keep up with the rapidly increasing resolution of television. More than 40 years later, commercial optical disc players came onto the market.

1928: Fritz Pfleumer got the first tape recorder patent. It replaces steel wire with paper coated in iron powder. According to Valdemar Poulsen

(1898) to the second crucial pioneer of magnetic sound, image and data storage


Dénes Mihály presented in Berlin a small cir- cle, the first authentic television broadcast in Germany, having worked at least since 1923 in this field.

August Karolus and the company Telefunken



on the “fifth Great German Radio Exhi-

bition Berlin 1928” the prototype of a televi- sion receiver, with an image size of 8 cm × 10


and a resolution of about 10,000 pixels, a

much better picture quality than previous de-



In New York (USA) the first regular television broadcasts of the experiment station WGY, operated by the General Electric Company (GE). Sporadic television news and dramas ra- diate from these stations by 1928.


The first commercially produced televi- sion receiver of the Daven Corporation in Newark is offered for $75.


John Logie Baird transmits the first television pictures internationally, and the same across



Atlantic from London to New York. He

also demonstrated the world’s first color tele-

vision transmission in London.



Edison withdraws from the phono business -



disk has ousted the cylinder.


The company Columbia Records developed



first portable record player that can be con-

nected to any tube radio. It also created the


radio / phonograph combinations, the pre-

cursor to the 1960s music chests.

The German physicist Curt Stille (1873-1957) records magnetic sound for film, on a perfo- rated steel band. First, this “Magnettonver- fahren” has no success. Years later it is re- discovered for amateur films, providing easy dubbing. A “Daylygraph” or Magnettongerät had amplifier and equalizer, and a mature Magnettondiktiergerät called “Textophon”.

Based on patents, which he had purchased


of silence, brings the Englishman E. Blattner


" Blattnerphone “the first magnetic sound

recording on the market. It records on a thin steel band.


The first sound film using optical sound pre- miers. Since the early 1920s, various people have developed this method. The same op- toelectronic method also allows for the first time the post-processing of recorded music to sound recordings of it.


1924-1959: From cathode ray tube to stereo audio and TV


1924-1959: From cathode ray tube to stereo audio and TV 5 Daylygraph wire recorder • The

Daylygraph wire recorder

The director Carl Froelich (1875-1953) turns "The Night Belongs to Us", the first German sound film.

20th Century Fox presents in New York on an 8 m × 4 m big screen the first widescreen movie.

The radio station Witzleben begins in Ger- many with the regular broadcasting of televi- sion test broadcasts, initially on long wave with 30 lines (= 1,200 pixels) at 12.5 image changes per second. It appear first blueprints for tele- vision receiver.

John Logie Baird starts in the UK on behalf of the BBC with regular experimental television broadcasts to the public.

Frederic Eugene Ives transmits a color televi- sion from New York to Washington.


Manfred von Ardenne invented and developed the flying-spot scanner, Europe’s first fully electronic television camera tube.

In Britain, the first television advertising and the first TV interview


The British engineer and inventor Alan Dower Blumlein (1903-1942) invents “Binau- ral Sound”, today called “Stereo”. He devel- oped the stereo record and the first three-way speaker. He makes experimental films with stereo sound. Then he becomes leader of the development team for the EMI 405-line tele- vision system.

The company RCA Victor presents to the pub- lic the first real LP record, the 35 cm diameter and 33.33 RPM give sufficient playing time for an entire orchestral work. But the new turnta- bles are initially so expensive that they are only gain broad acceptance after the Second World War - then as vinyl record.

The French physicist René Barthélemy leads in Paris the first public television with clay be- fore. The BBC launches first Tonversuche in the UK.

Public World Premiere of electronic television - without electro-mechanical components such as the Nipkow disk - on the “eighth Great Ger- man Radio Exhibition Berlin 1931 ". Doberitz

/ Pomerania is the first German location for a tone-TV stations.

Manfred von Ardenne can be the principle of a color picture tube patent: Narrow strips of phosphors in the three primary colors are closely juxtaposed arranged so that they com- plement each other with the electron flow to white light. A separate control of the three colors has not yet provided.


The company AEG and BASF start for the magnetic tape method of Fritz Pfleumer to care (1928). They develop new devices and tapes, in which celluloid is used instead of pa- per as a carrier material.

In Britain, the BBC sends first radio programs time-shifted instead of live.

The company telephone and radio apparatus factory Ideal AG (today Blaupunkt) provides

a car radio using Bowden cables to control it from the steering column.


After the Nazi seizure of power in Germany is

broadcasting finally a political tool. Systematic censorship is to prevent opposition and spread the “Aryan culture”. Series production of the

" People’s recipient VE 301 “starts.

Edwin Howard Armstrong demonstrates that frequency-modulated (FM) radio transmis- sions are less susceptible to interference than amplitude-modulated (AM). However, practi- cal application is long delayed.

In the USA the first opened drive-in theater.

1934: First commercial stereo recordings find little favor - the necessary playback devices are still too expensive. The term "High Fidelity" is embossed around this time.




AEG and BASF place at the Berlin Radio Show, the tape recorder " Magnetophon K1 “and the appropriate magnetic tapes before. In case of fire in the exhibition hall all four exhib- ited devices are destroyed.

In Germany the world’s first regular television program operating for about 250 mostly public reception points starts in Berlin and the sur- rounding area. The mass production of tele- vision receivers is - probably due to the high price of 2,500 Reichsmarks - not yet started.

At the same time, the research institute of the German Post (RPF) begins with development work for a color television methods , but which are later reinstated due to the Second World War.


Olympic Games in Berlin broadcast live.

“Olympia suitcase”, battery-powered portable radio receiver, introduced.

The first mobile television camera (180 lines, all-electronic) is used for live television broad- casts of the Olympic Games.

Also in the UK are first regular television broadcasts - now for the perfect electronic EMI system, which soon replaced the mechan- ical part Baird system - broadcast.

Video telephony connections between booths in Berlin and Leipzig. Later connections from Berlin to Nuremberg and Munich added.

The Frenchman Raymond Valtat reports on a patent, which describes the principle of work- ing with binary numbers abacus.

Konrad Zuse works on a dual electromechan- ical computing machine that is ready in 1937.


First sapphire needle for records of the com- pany Siemens

The interlaced video method is introduced on TVr to reduce image flicker. The transmit- ter Witzleben uses the new standard with 441 lines and 25 image changes, i.e. 50 fields of 220 half-lines. Until the HDTV era the inter- lace method remains in use.

First movie encoder make it possible not to send the TV live, but to rely on recordings.


The improved AEG tape-recorder “Magne- tophon K4” is first used in radio studios. The belt speed is 77 cm / s, which at 1000 m length of tape has a playing time of 22 minutes.

Werner Flechsig invents the shadow mask method for separate control of the three pri- mary colors in a color picture tube.


On the “16th Great German Radio and tele- vision broadcasting exhibition Berlin 1939 ", the” German Unity television receiver E1 “and announces the release of free commercial tele- vision. Due to the difficult political and eco- nomic situation, only about 50 devices are sold instead of the planned 10,000.

In the USA the first regular television broad- casts take place.


The development of television technology for military purposes increases the resolution to 1029 lines at 25 frames per second. Commer- cial HDTV television reached that resolution almost half a century later.

The problem of band noise with tape devices is reduced dramatically by the invention of ra- dio frequency bias of Walter Weber and Hans- Joachim von Braunmühl.

1942 : The first all-electronic computer is used by John Vincent Atanasoff, but quickly fades into obliv- ion. Four years later the ENIAC completed - the beginning of the end of Electromechanics in com- puters and calculators.

1945-1947 : American soldiers capture in Germany some tape recorders. This and the nullified German patents leads to the development of the first tape recorders in the United States. The first home device " Sound Mirror “by the Brush Development Co. is there on the market.


The American physicist and industrialist Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991) launches the first instant camera, Polaroid camera Model 95 on the market.

Three American engineers at Bell Labora- tories (John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley) invent the transistor. Its lesser size and power compared with electron tubes brings (from 1955) portable radio re- ceivers starting its march through all areas of electronics.

The Hungarian-American physicist Peter Carl Goldmark (1906-1977) invents the vinyl record (first published 1952), much less noisy than their predecessors shellac. Thanks to micro-groove (100 grooves per cm) can play 23 minutes per side. The LP record is born.


1924-1959: From cathode ray tube to stereo audio and TV


This one is the redemption of the claim “high fidelity one step closer” to the end of the shel- lac era.

The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) leads the music format with 45 RPM records, later to conquer the market for cheap players. The first publication in Germany in this format appears 1953rd

The British physicist Dennis Gabor (1900- 1979) invents holography. This method of recording and reproducing image with coher- ent light allows three-dimensional images. It was not until 1971 when the procedure gained practical importance, he received the Nobel Prize for Physics.


In Germany, FM broadcasting starts regular program operation.

Experimentally since 1943, series production since 1949 there are for professional use stereo - Tonbandgeräte and matching ribbons. Also portable devices for reporters, initially pro- pelled by a spring mechanism, has been around since 1949


In the USA the first prerecorded audio tapes are marketed.

Also in the USA the company Zenith mar- kets the first TV with cable remote control for channel selection.


The CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) broadcasts in New York the first color televi- sion program in the world, but using the field sequential standard, not reaching to the resolu- tion of the black and white television and was to be incompatible.

With the " tape recorder F15 “from AEG 's first home tape recorder appears on the Ger- man market.

RCA Electronic Music is the first synthesizer prior to the creation of artificial electronic sounds.


Reintroduction of regular television broadcasts in Germany after the Second World War.

20th Century Fox developed with "Cinemascope" the most successful wide- screen process to better compete with television. Only some 50 years later pulls the TV with the 16: 9 size screen after.


The "National Television System Commit- tee" (Abbreviated as NTSC) normalized in the USA named after her black-and-white- compatible NTSC -Farbfernseh process. A year later, this method is introduced in the United States.

The car radio top model “Mexico” from Becker for the first time to an FM area (in mono) and an automatic tuning.


RCA developed for the first apparatus for recording video signals on magnetic tapes. 22 km magnetic tape are needed per hour. By 1956, succeeds the company Ampex through the use of multiple tracks, the tape speed to more practicable 38.1 cm / s lower.

The European Broadcasting Union is founded “Euro Vision”.

First regular television broadcasts in Japan.


The second generation "TRADIC" (Transistorized Digital Computer), first to use only transistors therefore much smaller and more powerful than its predecessor tube computers.

The Briton Narinder S. Kapany investigated the propagation of light in fine glass fibers (optical fibers).

The first wireless remote control for a televi- sion US-based Zenith consists of a better flash- light, with which one lights up in one of the four devices corners to turn the unit on or off, change the channel or mute the sound.


The company Metz introduces radio device type 409 / 3D. First mass production of printed circuit boards. This follows since the 1930s, several improvements to the manufac- turing technology.

The company Ampex introduces the “VR 1000” the first video recorder. That same year, CBS uses it for the first magnetic video tape recording (VTR) from. Although other pro- grams are produced in color since 1954, the VTR cannot record color.

1957 : The Frenchman Henri de France (1911- 1986) developed the first generation of color TV sys- tem SECAM ( Système électronique couleur avec mémoire ), which avoids some of the problems of the NTSC method. The weaknesses of the SECAM system be fixed in later modifications of the standard for the most part.




By merging the Edison patents and the Berliner, the Blumlein stereo recording method becomes commercially viable. The company Mercury Records launches the first stereo record on the market.

The company Ampex expands the video recorder with the Model “VR 1000 B” to give it color capability.

4 See also

5 References

[1] Isaac Asimov:Biographical Encyclopedia of science and Engineering, London, 1975 ISBN 0-330-24323-3

[2] Elektrik Mühendisliği, s.259-260, Kemal İnan pp 245-


[4] The Electrical Engineer. (1888). London: Biggs & Co. Pg., 239. [cf., "[ new application of the alternating cur-

rent in the production of rotary motion was made known almost simultaneously by two experimenters, Nikola Tesla and Galileo Ferraris, and the subject has attracted general attention from the fact that no commutator or connection of any kind with the armature was required."]


[5] Lott, Melissa C. “The Engineer Who Foreshadowed the Smart Grid--in 1921”. Plugged In. Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 14 August 2017.


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