How Do Neon TV Tubes Work?



  • Neon TV tubes were used in the very first commercially available televisions in the 1920s. They were popular up until the mid-1930s when electrical televisions were introduced. Soon after the introduction of all electrical TVs, the use of neon tubes in televisions became obsolete. Mechanical televisions with neon tubes are still sometimes built by hobbyists, however.

How Neon Tubes Work

  • Neon TV tubes are integral to the function of a mechanical television. Once the mechanical television receives the signal, that signal is changed into a repeating sequence of light flashes. A disc called the reproducing disc then rotates rapidly in front of the tube, and each flash is converted into a small section of the image. The very quick speed of the rotating disc makes it possible for the viewer to perceive this as a moving image. On a mechanical television, this equates to the brain seeing an image every one-tenth of a second.

Signal Operators

  • There were an estimated 250,000 signal operators of radios during the 1920s. These operators became the first people to work in radio and TV. The first official TV broadcast occurred in 1928 with a showing of ''The Queen's Messenger".

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