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Wheaton Then and Now: First Television Broadcasting Station

Who knew that the first television broadcasts were transmitted from Wheaton?

Charles Francis Jenkins, an American pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television, transmitted the first television broadcast from Wheaton in 1929.

Jenkins was born in Dayton, OH.  After school, he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1890 where he worked as a stenographer. He began experimenting with movie film in 1891, and moved on to work on television.

In 1929, the Jenkins Television Corporation opened the first television broadcasting station in the United States, named W3XX, which went on air on July 2 in Washington, and first transmitted from Jenkins’s lab from Wheaton, Md, in 1929, broadcasting five nights each week.  

At first, the station could only send silhouette images due to its narrow bandwidth, but that was soon rectified and real black and white images were transmitted.  The station was located at the corner of Windham Lane and Georgia Avenue. The house still stands today.  

In 1932, Jenkins Television Corporation was liquidated, and assets were acquired by Le DeForest Radio Corporation. Within months, the Le DeForest Company went bankrupt, and the assets were bought by RCA, which stopped all work on electromechanical television.  

Jenkins died at age 66 in Washington D. C.  Although, he was a very interesting character, Jenkins is today one of the lesser known pioneers of television.

Jane E. Shafritz December 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Thank you for this exceptionally interesting story about the Jenkins House. Actually this house is right up the street from me and I pass it almost everyday. Please keep me posted with more information on this and other stories. I am so interested in History. In fact, I volunteer at the National Museum of American History once a week at the Welcome Center Desk. Thanks again. Jane E. Shafritz lifetimetv@verizon.net

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