25 Greatest Inventions of the 20th Century: TV: on the shoulders of giants

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. stun / stʌn / (v.) – to surprise someone very much, usually making him/her unable to speak or think clearly

    The seven-year-old dancer stunned the audience with his excellent dance moves.

  2. spring up / sprɪŋ ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to suddenly grow or appear

    Several bubble tea shops sprang up when the drink became popular.

  3. distant / ˈdɪs tənt / (adj.) – located very far

    I like traveling to distant places to meet new people and learn different cultures.

  4. lift (one’s) spirits / lɪft ˈspɪr ɪts / (idiom) – to cheer up someone

    I was feeling bad all day, but my mother’s words of encouragement lifted my spirits.

  5. be glued to (something) / bi glud tu / (idiom) – to look at something without paying attention to anything else

    My sister didn’t see me walk past her because her eyes were glued to her phone.


Read the text below.

The history books say that television was invented by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird. But he couldn’t have done it without the work of many earlier inventors.

Baird’s “televisor” used a special rotating disk made by a German university student and a photocell made by an American.

Baird stunned the world in a series of public demonstrations of his technology in the 1920s. Puppet heads and human heads moved live on a small screen.

Baird’s televisor was mechanical, but other inventors — including Japanese engineer Kenjiro Takayanagi — made electronic televisions using cathode ray tubes. These CRTs have since been replaced by today’s flat-screen wonders.

Television stations soon sprang up everywhere, and TV moved to the center of our culture.

As TV comes closer to its 100th anniversary, people are divided about its benefits. On the one hand, it has brought world-changing events into our living rooms.

TV has shined a light on distant countries and cultures, helping us understand we are all one people. When we are sad, we can see a movie on TV to lift our spirits. When we want information, TV can give us what we need.

But parents worry it rots children’s minds. When kids are glued to the TV screen, they’re not having a real conversation with real people. And TV can spread misinformation and control society — as in countries like North Korea.

In so many ways, TV is a mirror to our strengths and our weaknesses. (T)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • According to the article, Baird couldn’t have invented the television without the work of earlier inventors. Do you think the TV that people use now would’ve existed without Baird’s “televisor”? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • After the invention of TV, television stations soon sprang up, and TV eventually moved to the center of our culture. Given the current popularity of streaming sites (ex. Netflix, Amazon Prime), do you think TV is still at the center of our culture? Do you think TV will eventually become irrelevant? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • People are divided about the benefits of television. TV has helped us gain easy access to information and also understand other distant countries and cultures. However, it can also be used as a tool to spread misinformation, and some parents think that it rots children’s minds. Do you think its advantages outweigh its disadvantages? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • According to the article, TV is a mirror to our strengths and our weaknesses in so many ways. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Technology/Innovations