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TV names: Where do These Names Come From?

When most people watch TV, they’re likely only thinking about what’s on TV. We rarely think about the history of TV and where names such as “television” and “set top box” come from and what they mean. Understand more about television and TV names, and see how the growth of television has transformed our culture.


Watching TV as a family is an important part of our culture today.

The history of TV naming

The word “television” was first used over 100 years ago in 1900. Constantin Perskyi coined the term in a paper he wrote for the International World Fair in Paris. The word means “far off seeing,” meaning you can see the images from afar. Perskyi was describing a device that had not yet been made, but by giving it a name, he sent the development of the television into overdrive. Inventors all over the world started exploring the physical development rather than just ideas about the possibility of TV.

From there, televisions were developed and improved into what we know today. Check out more about the history of TV names and equipment.

Television tuners

TV tuners

A television tuner is what makes it possible for you to watch your favorite shows. The tuner takes the analog or digital signal and turns it into the image and sound you see on TV.

Set top boxes

A set top box is a type of tuner used with cable and satellite TV service. This equipment also makes it possible for your TV to integrate with the Internet. In the past, set top boxes were always placed on top of a television. With TVs getting thinner, now most set top boxes actually go below the television instead.


Most CRT TVs have small screens and look like this one.

Types of televisions

CRT TVs

A CRT TV uses a cathode ray tube to produce images. The idea for a CRT television has been around for over 100 years. The first marketable CRT TVs were produced in the 1931, and they are still around today.

Televisions that operate using cathode ray tubes are very large and bulky because of the tubes inside. Over the years, these TVs have gotten a bit thinner but cannot compete with the slimness of a plasma or LCD TV. By the 2000s, CRTs started losing popularity as other newer types of televisions gained favorability.

Plasma TVs

A plasma TV is named for its flat plasma display panel. Plasma TVs use electrically charged ionized gases in fluorescent lamps to create images. These TVs can be very large, and extremely thin, making plasma televisions more accessible than CRT TVs. The lifespan of plasma TVs has increased exponentially since they first entered the market in 1997.

LCD TVs

An LCD TV uses liquid crystal display to create the images you see. They are currently the most popular and best-selling type of television. They use half as much energy as a CRT TV and are much thinner and lighter, putting LCD televisions at a large advantage.


LCD TVs look very similar to plasma TVs. The big difference is how the image is created.

What do TV names tell us?

Most TV names are straightforward and describe exact specifications about the piece of equipment. The term “television” has stuck with us ever since Constantin Perskyi coined the term over a century ago, and now TVs are a major component of homes across the country.