A Brief History of Film, Television, and Audio Formats
The timeline below helps to illustrate the constantly evolving list of media formats as
well as developmental peaks and valleys.
Typical data rate
OfflineRT (using Photo JPEG)
Varies from 300–500 KB/sec.
25:1 compressed M-JPEG
2:1 compressed M-JPEG
Uncompressed SD video
Uncompressed 8-bit 1080i
29.97 fps HD video
Uncompressed 10-bit 1080i
29.97 fps HD video
First photograph is taken.
Thomas Edison makes the first sound recording of “Mary Had a
Thomas Edison invents commercially viable incandescent
Heinrich Hertz shows that electricity can travel through space and
that radio waves are physically identical to light.
35 mm film is invented by splitting Eastman Kodak 70 mm in half
(1.33 aspect ratio).
Marconi develops radio transmitter and receiver.
Lumière brothers demonstrate combination camera/projector (16 fps).
First color motion picture appears.
Commercial radio broadcasts begin.
16 mm film is introduced.
First major motion picture with sound is released (1.37 aspect ratio),
ending the silent movie era.
BBC begins official monochrome, 30-line video broadcast.
RCA experiments with 343-line, 30 fps television format, removing
flicker by introducing interlacing.
BBC begins broadcasting a high definition, monochrome, 405-line,
25 fps interlaced signal tied to European 50 Hz electrical frequency.
NBC begins regularly scheduled broadcasts of electronic television,
441 lines and 30 fps.
National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) standardizes U.S.
commercial television format, 525 lines, 30 fps tied to U.S. 60 Hz
FCC allocates 13 channels for television broadcasting and moves
existing radio channels to 88–108 MHz.
ENIAC, the first electronic computer, using 18,000 vacuum tubes,
Long-playing (LP) phonograph records are introduced.
Hollywood switches to nonflammable film.
Ampex introduces its first professional audio tape recorder.
The transistor is invented.
The first commercially available computer, UNIVAC I, goes on sale.
The FCC provides UHF channels 14 through 83.
Second NTSC adopts RCA color TV standard, 525 lines,
29.97 fps, interlaced.
First CinemaScope, anamorphic film is released with 2.66 aspect
ratio (1.33 x 2).
Stereo tape recording is introduced by EMI Stereosonic Tapes.
Ampex introduces its first video recorder using 2-inch reel-to-reel tape.
Stereo radio broadcasts begin.
Philips introduces audio cassette tapes.
BBC TWO becomes the first British color broadcast network, using
the PAL system, 625 lines, 25 fps interlaced.
France introduces SECAM, 625 lines, 25 fps, interlaced.
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)
The computer mouse is invented.
3/4-inch U-Matic video format is introduced.
Computer floppy disk is introduced.
First permanent IMAX film system is installed.
FCC establishes rules for cable TV.
The first computer editing system, the CMX-300, is introduced.
JVC introduces the Video Home System (VHS).
First preassembled personal computer, the Apple II, is introduced.
Sony, Fujitsu, and Philips introduce audio compact discs (CDs).
Apple introduces the Macintosh computer.
Betacam SP is introduced.
The first commercial digital videotape format, D-1, is introduced.
General Instrument proposes an all-digital HDTV system in the U.S.
Japan adopts Hi-Vision/MUSE as the national HDTV standard,
16:9 aspect ratio,1,125 scanning lines, 30 fps, interlaced.
QuickTime 1.0 is introduced, including the Apple Video codec and
Digital Betacam is introduced.
DV format is introduced.
DVD format is introduced.
Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) digital television
standards are adopted by FCC, including 18 formats, 6 of which
Final Cut Pro 1.0 is introduced.
DVCPRO HD equipment begins shipping.
First IMX VTRs begin shipping.
First HDV camcorder is introduced.
QuickTime 7 is released, including support for H.264.
XDCAM HD format introduced.