Charles Francis Jenkins was the guy who invented TV.
“What is that idiot looking box you are tinkering with?” the wife asked in an irritated voice. She was addressing Charles Francis Jenkins.
“I am trying to wirelessly transmit moving images and sound.” He tried to explain. “And it is not idiot looking box, I intend to call it television.”
“What will be the use?” She was so sceptical.
“Leaders will use it to misguide the general population, women will watch never ending serials, men will watch women and sports, and couples will fight over the channel control.” He replied.
This statement of his is not recorded anywhere. But I am sure, since he was a man of vision, and television, he could foresee the use and misuse of his product.
Logically, and chronologically, TV stations must have come up after many many years of invention of TV. So, I wonder what the people did with the TV sets that they bought when there were no TV stations. Or why they bought it in the first place. Or were the TV stations set up first and then people bought the TV sets? Seems like minor cousin of – who came first, egg or chicken?
TV came into my life in early 80s when I was in class 10. It did not come into my life exactly, it came to our influential neighbours’ house. It was the only TV set in the whole neighbourhood. Kids in the lane were more excited than the actual owners. Parents of the kids were jealous. All the kids would assemble in the bestowed house every evening and watch whatever was being transmitted by the government channel. I wonder how the owners tolerated us, so many unruly kids. May be they were happy for all the attention they were getting.
Sunday evening was the movie time. I would start studying in the morning so that I could go to the neighbours to watch the movie on the TV. It could be any kind, comedy or religious or art movie, that did not bother us kids. Even after studying the whole day, father would say – no, you can’t go. Time to pester mom, or sulk. Many a times the tactics worked, many a times it did not.
Asian Games in 1982 brought colour TV sets. We started going to even more influential neighbours who had colour TV. Their house was further away from original influential neighbours who had black and white TV. And they catered to more kids.
Games appealed to parents also. So it was decided to buy a TV for our own household. One whole evening was spent on the discussion by dad and his scientist friends. Finally it was decided to buy a black and white TV as the colour technology was too new and they were afraid that colour transmission would be stopped once the games were over.
Then came the cable. A guy at the end of the lane installed huge overbearing dish antenna on his roof and started offering connection for couple of English channels. We did not get the connection. I started visiting even more influential neighbours who had the cable connection.
I was wonderstruck and was unable to believe when someone told me about channels abroad that show news or movies or music 24X7. Wows. I mean how could that be, when we waited all week for a movie that was transmitted on Sunday evenings? But that would be fun. Forget news. Movies and music all day long. Wake up in the morning, switch on the TV and watch a movie!!
Cable was toppled by DTH. Little dish antennas on every house top proved too mighty for the huge dish at the roof top of cable guy. The cable guy had to wind up his venture. He did not even bother to collect his cable lines that criss crossed the area to reach the homes of people who had opted for the cable connection.
Very soon, the locality was dug up to lay orange pipes. They delivered internet at unbelievable speed and rate. This was followed by arrival of smart TV and content over the internet.
And that, my friends, completed the prophecy of the inventor. “Leaders will use it to misguide the general population, women will watch never ending serials, men will watch women and sports, and couples will fight over the channel control.” Initially it was idiot box and people were smart. Now the TVs are smart and have turned people into idiots.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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