Television is not impossible in theory. In practice it would be very costly without being capable of serious application. But we do not want that. On that day when it will be possible to accelerate our methods of telephotography by at least ten times, which does not appear to be impossible in the future, we shall arrive at television with a hundred telegraph wires. Then the problem of sight at a distance will without doubt cease to be a chimera. ["Telegraphing Pictures" in Windsor Magazine, vol. xxvi, June-November 1907]
Other proposals for the name of a then-hypothetical technology for sending pictures over distance were telephote (1880) and televista (1904). The technology was developed in the 1920s and '30s. Nativized in German as Fernsehen. Shortened form TV is from 1948. Meaning "a television set" is from 1941. Meaning "television as a medium" is from 1927.
Television is the first truly democratic culture — the first culture available to everyone and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want. [Clive Barnes, New York Times, Dec. 30, 1969]
1927 back-formation from television, on model of other verbs from nouns ending in -(v)ision (such as revise). Related: Televised; televising.
1948, shortened form of television (q.v.). Spelled out as tee-vee from 1949. TV dinner (1954), made to be eaten from a tray while watching a television set, is a proprietary name registered by Swanson & Sons, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "far" (in space or time). Some sources connect this root with *kwel- (1), forming words to do with turning, via the notion of "completion of a cycle."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit caramah "the last;" Greek tele "far off, afar, at or to a distance," palaios "old, ancient," palai "long ago, far back;" Breton pell "far off," Welsh pellaf "uttermost."