Jules Verne’s Television

Most people are aware that Jules Verne wrote the first story about a giant submarine, the first modern story about travel to the moon and much else. He could be inspiring even when his technology would never have worked. Less well-known is his prediction of television, but in a quite different form to what we know. At least I am fairly sure that it was Verne and not somebody else.

Verne’s idea was a device that would allow us to look in on other cultures doing their thing. If you took a fancy to watching the Hindus bathe in the Ganges, you could do that. Then press a button and you could enjoy a temple dance in Bali, yet another button and you could watch something else, anywhere in the world. I seem to remember that Verne’s vision was heavily loaded towards festivals. Who exactly picked what to make available was unspecified or else I have forgotten the mechanism. Of one thing I am certain, however, is that Verne’s “television” viewers watched what was really happening, and happening by itself, just a long way away.

The idea was truly revolutionary for 19th-century France, and would be even now. There was indeed a channel in the Eighties that did something similar, being footage with no commentary, but it fell by the wayside. The still-revolutionary aspect of Verne’s idea would be the total absence of any other kind of “programming”. It was a very long way from the drama or the comedy series, let alone the game show.

(Fiddle date-stamp to January 1, 2012)

Posted on December 30, 2011 at 10:20 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Odds And Ends, Miscellaneous

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