In terms of broadcast technologies, which was seen as more revolutionary for its time: television or radio? How was each technology utilized in terms of its intended purpose and audience/users in its earliest years? And were telecom companies its earliest providers, presumably having already provided telephone services and telegraph long before that?

Also, was the invention of broadcast technologies seen as a surprising and significant development from prior point-to-point communications like telegraph and the telephone, or was it more of an expected logical progression from those precursor technologies?

Lastly, many communication technologies seemed to be developed for government or military purposes first and only later considered for public use. Was the same the case for either radio or television?

I'm trying to get a feel for how it impacted the societies in the era they were each invented, including early adoption and enthusiasm surrounding their use.

  • Extremely broad question, that seems to lead to an opinion poll. IF I'm not the only one with this opinion, how could we fix it? – Mark C. Wallace Jun 20 '14 at 21:03
  • @MarkC.Wallace I care less about "which was better" (subjective) than how each was historically received (contemporary newspaper headlines may be indicative of public opinion?) and used. I'm not sure on the best (re)wording to convey that. If someone would like to edit it to best reflect that then feel free. Else I will try to think how I can downsize the scope more. – SeligkeitIstInGott Jun 20 '14 at 21:38

I think Radio was more revolutionary - is was the first

  1. free (advertiser-paid)
  2. real time
  3. one-to-many
  4. not requiring any skills from the recipient (illiterates can listen)
  5. not requiring recipient to withdraw form menial tasks (one can work on a sewing machine while listening - TV actually does not have this feature!)

information distribution system.

The only "prior art" I can think of are medieval market-square announcers (heralds?), but they broadcast to a very limited audience.

In fact, it took about 20 years between the invention of radio and the start of public broadcasting - because the business model was not clear. TV was used for civilian broadcasts right away - without any period of "military-only technology".

In a way, the Radio/TV relationship is similar to the Telegraph/Telephone relationship. The first in each pair was a true revolution. The second was a crucial improvement.

Radio started public broadcasting. TV improved on it.

Telegraph started instant communications. Phone improved on it and made it a household item.

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    "In fact, it took about 20 years between the invention of radio and the start of public broadcasting - because the business model was not clear." It is facts like this are historically interesting and pertinent to the "adoption" (or reception) aspect of my question. – SeligkeitIstInGott Jun 20 '14 at 21:51

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