A lot of technology withers and dies as something newer and better comes along. But one electronic device that’s defied the test of time is the television.

This week marks 80 years since the BBC opened the world's first regular 'high-definition' television service, from Alexandra Palace (although high definition as we know it today is quite different).

To celebrate, check out our amazing TV facts below. And why not take our TV quiz too.

1. John Logie Baird transmitted the first television picture

John Logie Baird

Scotsman John Logie Baird may not have developed the first TV, but he was the first to transmit an image from one on October 2, 1925 using a ventriloquist's dummy.

Eager to show his discovery to the world, Baird went to the Daily Express newspaper’s offices. However, the news editor was terrified and apparently told a reporter: “For God’s sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic who’s down there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless! Watch him – he may have a razor on him.”

[Read more: Ultra HD and 4K explained]

2. High definition television actually started in 1936

Old TV

High definition was used to describe revolutionary 405-line television broadcasting, which started in the UK back in 1936. Although the quality isn’t quite that high when you compare to today’s idea of high definition!


3. The BBC went off the air for almost seven years during World War II

Two days before Britain declared war on Germany the plug was pulled on the BBC. A Mickey Mouse cartoon was the last to air. When the war ended and the BBC returned in 1946, it felt only fitting to resume with a repeat of the same cartoon it left off with.


4. One TV pioneer wouldn’t allow his family to watch anything

Children watching TV

Philo Farnsworth, who invented the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system, didn’t actually like TV all that much.

“There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet,” he once said.


5. The ‘test card girl’ is the most aired face in British television history

From 1967 to 1998, the BBC showed a static image of eight-year-old Carole Hersee with a blackboard and toy clown known as Test Card F whenever a channel wasn’t on-air. The image briefly returned in 2009 for the BBC HD channel.


6. Sony used to make pocket-sized TVs

Sony Watchman

While some may believe that bigger is better, Sony went in the opposite direction in 1982 with the first pass-produced pocket television: the Sony Watchman FD-210, which had a tiny 5cm grayscale display.


7. TVs have gone beyond the 100-inch mark

Panasonic TV

Size matters when it comes to TV, and some manufacturers have gone wild over the years, making colossal displays. Panasonic made a monster 152-inch display back in 2012, which cost an eye-watering £600,000.

[Read more: 'Biggest TV set built' costs £1m]


8. 3D TV flopped


The fanfare around 3D TV in the home failed to catch on a few years back, with the BBC putting development of 3D programming on hold.

While shops are still selling 3D TV sets, prices have dropped, and the manufacturers have turned their attentions to 4K or Ultra HD television, which has four times more pixels than standard HD televisions.


9. The average person spends almost 10 years of their life watching TV


We Brits have an insatiable appetite for TV – so much so that the average person spends a staggering nine and a half years in front of the box, according to recent study of 2,000 people by UKTV.

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"Sony Watchman TV FD-10A Austin Calhoon Photograph" by austin calhoon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

"John Logie Baird and Stooky Bill" by Orrin Dunlap, Jr. - Retrieved August 15, 2014 from Orrin Dunlap, Jr., "The Televisor" in Popular Radio magazine, published by Popular Radio, Inc., New York, Vol. 10, No. 7, November 1926, p. 650 on AmericanRadioHistory.com.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.