As you place those 3D glasses (passive or active) on your face and sit back to watch a Blu-ray disc or movie streaming from a cloud server, take a few moments to consider how we got here. It wasn’t all that long ago that VCRs were essential components and home theater mean the nearest cinemaplex in your town. No industry has moved faster than the consumer electronics industry, and the history of television is one of the most fascinating chapters.
As part of our year of celebrating Electronic House’s Silver Anniversary, we’re offering up this time line of the past 25 years in the history of video. Special thanks to John Taylor, LG’s VP of public affairs and chairman of the video division of the Consumer Electronics Association and the Plasma Display Coalition for helping us fill in the memory gaps. Like Electronic House, he’s been a front-line witness to all of these video milestone moments. We’re looking forward to what happens in the next 25 years.
• 1986 First consumer videophone is marketed.
Scrambling of satellite-fed programming starts.
Stereo sound in TV broadcasting available nationwide.
• 1987 Higher resolution VCRs (S-VHS and ED-Beta) introduced.
First flat-screen high-resolution color picture tube introduced by Zenith.
• 1988 LCD front projectors developed.
CDs become more popular than vinyl records .
22 HDTV standards proposals submitted to ATSC advisory committee.
First practical, partially digital simulcast HDTV system announced.
• 1989 First 16-bit videogames debut.
Handheld GPS devices available.
• 1990 All-digital HDTV systems proposed to FCC.
Legislation passed requiring closed captions in TVs .
First color fax machines sold .
Debut of digital audio tape (DAT) recorders.
• 1991 First TV sets with built-in closed caption decoders introduced.
First commercial digital camera from Kodak.
FCC testing of HDTV systems begins.
• 1992 World Wide Web becomes available.
Digital cellular service begins.
CEBus home automation standard finalized in USA.
• 1993 Digital HDTV Grand Alliance formed to develop final digital TV system for U.S.
16:9 widescreen TVs first marketed in the U.S.
First plasma display screens introduced .
• 1994 Zenith introduces first TV sets featuring on-screen electronic program guide .
DBS receivers introduced.
CDMA digital cellphone standard established.
• 1995 DVD standard selected from competing technologies.
Dolby Digital surround sound introduced.
FCC Advisory Committee recommends Grand Alliance system to FCC.
• 1996 FCC adopts U.S. digital TV standard.
Debut of VCRs with VCRPlus+.
Zenith introduces first HDTV compatible front-projection TV .
• 1997 DVD players hit the U.S. market.
Early smartphones with Internet access launched.
WiFi Ethernet standard adopted.
• 1998 First HDTV sets sold at retail.
First HDTV satellite broadcasts demonstrated.
• 1999 First “talking” VCR introduced by Zenith.
• 2000 HDTV-DVD player demonstrated.
Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four broadcast in HDTV for first time .
FCC imposes HDTV labeling standards.
First recording DVD players debut.
LG demonstrates first 60-inch plasma
• 2001 Satellite radio broadcasting begins.
Integrated HDTVs introduced.
• 2002 Blu-ray and DV-DVD recording standards announced .
FCC requires DTV tuners in large-screen TVs.
Plug-and-play cable-HDTV specifications announced.
Sony ends availability of Beta VCRs.
• 2003 First HDMI-equipped HDTVs launched.
National HDTV DBS service available.
• 2004 DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) formed for interoperable home networking.
CableCARD “Digital Cable Ready” TVs go on sale.
Cellphones with video camera and mega-pixel still cameras introduced .
• 2005 FCC requires DTV tuners in 50% of 25- to 35-inch TVs.
Home theater receivers with HDMI go on sale.
First HDTV with built-in HD DVR introduced by LG Electronics .
• 2006 Sales of digital TVs surpass sales of analog for first time.
First 1080p plasma displays introduced .
President Bush signs law to end analog broadcasting in 2009.
First rear-projection HDTVs with LED lighting technology available.
First consumer HD DVD players on sale in U.S.
• 2007 Apple iPhone introduced .
First WiFi-based set-top-boxes for PC-based content on HDTVs.
• 2008 Government converter box coupon program begins for digital TV transition.
OLED HDTVs unveiled .
Netflix and LG launch first connected, streaming Blu-ray Disc players.
Blu-ray becomes dominant high-def DVD format.
Siruis and XM satellite radio providers merge.
• 2009 Analog TV broadcasting ends.
Mobile digital standard adopted.
First movies available on USB thumb drives.
Blu-ray group ratifies Blu-ray standard.
• 2010 Skype-HDTV-based video telephony introduced .
First 3D TVs, 3D Blu-ray players, 3D Blu-ray movies go on sale.
Mobile digital TV broadcasting begins.
Gesture-based gaming systems launched.
• 2011 First 3D camcorders introduced.
Mobile digital TV receivers available.
Glasses-free 3D TV demonstrated .
First 4G LTE mobile phones on sale.
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Electronic House Silver Anniversary Coverage
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.