The first television broadcast involving experimental home receivers took place 85 years ago today on Friday, January 13th, 1928. The two-hour demonstration was broadcast from General Electric’s radio laboratories in Schenectady, New York. In addition to a pair of sets G.E., three sets were in use at the homes of E.W. Allen, Edwin W. Rice, Jr. and Dr. E.F.W. Alexanderson (all connected to General Electric).
The demonstration began with an introduction from Leslie Wilkins, a member of G.E.’s testing department, who removed and replaced his glasses and then blew a smoke ring. Louis Dean, announcer for radio station WGY, then pulled out a ukulele and played “Ain’t She Sweet?”
It made front page news in The New York Times, which declared:
Sent through the air like the voice which accompanied the picture, it marked, the demonstrators declare, the first demonstration of television broadcasting and gave the first absolute proof of the possibility of connecting homes throughout the world by sight as they have already been connected by voice.
RCA’s David Sarnoff gave a speech prior to the demonstration in which he warned that there was quite a lot left to do before television sets would be available for sale.
“Radio Television to Home Receivers is Shown in Tests.” New York Times. 14 Jan. 1928: 1; 5.