From Science Fiction to First Locally Built TV Set: Television in the Republic of Lithuania, 1918–1940

 

Audrius Dambrauskas

 

The history of television in Lithuania usually is being written from 30 April 1957. On that day, Lithuanian television aired its first broadcast. Later, TV sets built in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (Tauras, Šilelis, etc.) ant their parts became popular throughout the USSR, and Lithuanian TV equipment was used even at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. This is well known and remembered in Lithuania today. But little is known about the pioneers of television in Lithuania before the Soviet occupation, when cinemas still reigned the world of moving images.

 

In this presentation I will try to shed some light on the never-before tackled period of Lithuanian television history. I will shortly cover three main topics, ranging from the arrival of the idea of television in Lithuanian literary works to the first practical steps in experimental TV technology. The topics covered are: 1) The visions of television in the science fiction works of Lithuanian authors of the early 20th century (Antanas Vienuolis, Vytautas Pranas Bičiūnas, possibly others); 2) TV progress in the world, discussions about the future of television and its possible implementations, as reported in Lithuanian press between 1918 and 1940; 3) The experimental TV apparatus of Girša Kadušin (George Kadish) and his 1935 book Television: Radio Transmission of Moving Images (Televizija. Judamųjų vaizdų perdavimas radio pagalba). Hopefully the presentation will not only introduce the unknown period of TV history in Lithuania, but will also help to illuminate the still very much cloudy picture of early television history in Europe.

 

Audrius Dambrauskas is a young Lithuanian historian, currently working as a senior specialist in Lithuanian Archives of Literature and Arts. In November 2020 he completed the joint Vilnius University and the Lithuanian Institute of History PhD programme and successfully defended his doctoral dissertation Film Culture in Lithuania, 1926–1944: Between Entertainment and Ideology. His main research interests are film history and popular culture of interwar Lithuania. He wrote several scholarly articles on film history in Lithuania, and also published several dozen popular articles on popular culture in interwar Lithuania, including an 11-article series ‘Fantastika tarpukario Lietuvoje’ (‘Science fiction in interwar Lithuania’) and an 18-article series ‘Kinas tarpukario Lietuvoje’ (‘Cinema in interwar Lithuania’).