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Early Elecyronic Television

Television in Uzbekistan

Was one of the first electronic camera tubes developed in Uzbekistan in 1928? The following was pieced together from various web pages:

Boris Grabovsky, son of the famous Ukrainian poet, Viktor Popov, from a working class family, Nikolay Piskunov, from a wealthy family and later a military officer, and Ivan Belyansky, began working on an all-electronic television system, which they named "Telephot". Popov and Piskunov stopped working on the device and went back to teaching, while Grabovsky and Belyansky continued to work on television. Apparently Grabovsky was the primary inventor. (Hugo Gernsback, the American publisher of radio and television magazines and books, had coined the term Telephot in a 1909 article. A coincidence?).

Boris Grabovsky was born on May 26, 1901 in Tobolsk, Tyuman Oblask, Russia. After the death of his farther, Pavel Grabovsky, the family moved to Odessa, then to Kahrkov. In 1917, they had to move to Central Asia, to Kyrgyz, in the village of Tokmak. He started his education in Tashkent special school. Then he joined the faculty of the Central Asian University in Tashkent where he worked with Prof. G. Popov. At the university he read articles by Boris Rosing in the field of electronic telescopy.

While at the university they built a device they called a "catode commutator" The device had all the major elements of the modern television system: the camera tube had a double-side photo layer and electrostatic deflection of an electron beam.

The tests with the device were carried out in the summer 1928 at the the house where the inventors lived with their families, which is where the present Tashkent TV center is located. The tests were sometime successful, and sometimes not. They televised a moving hand, and on June 28, 1928, they televised the faces of Belyansky and Grabovsky's wife Lidiya.

On August 4 they set up the camera and a transmitter at a location outside, and set up a receiver about 500 meters away. They then successfully televised a tram moving along Navoi Street.

They were issued a patent on July 30, 1928, which  read: "The author of the device to transmit mobile picture at a distance is the citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."

By 1930 they were forced, apparently by Soviet officials, to stop work on television.

On April 16, 1971 the director of UNESCO's department of scientific information sent a letter to Belyansky acknowledging the significance of his work in the development of television.

A museum, named after Belyansky, is located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, features his work. The camera tube is supposedly on display at the Museum of Communications in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Soviets were well known for exaggerating their accomplishments in science and technology, so it is hard to know how much of this is true. If Grabovsky did make a camera tube in 1928, his accomplishment should should be recognized along with Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin.