Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5


Early Television Stations

W3XK - Washington, D.C.

W3XK is often claimed to be the oldest television station in the United States, possibly in the entire world. This claim is open to question, however, as there were stations on the air before W3XK. It might have been the first station to broadcast a regular schedule of television. It was operated by Charles Jenkins of Charles Jenkins Laboratories from July 2, 1928 to 1934. The station's frequency started out at 1605 kHz, but moved to 6420 kHz (6.42 MHz), and eventually moved to 2.0-2.1 mHz. It originally broadcast from a location in Washington, DC, but later moved to Wheaton, Maryland (just outside of Washington). The station first broadcast with a 48 lines picture, then with 60 lines. Here is a newspaper article about an early program from W3XK.

Jenkins’ company, Jenkins Television Corporation, was liquidated in March 1932. Its assets were acquired by Lee DeForest Radio Corporation, which, within months, went bankrupt. The assets were then bought by RCA, which stopped all work on electromechanical television.

The caption on this picture, dated November 6, 1929:

Dr. C. Francis Jenkins, noted inventor and television pioneer, directing a scene in his new studio in Washington, D.C., the first devoted exclusively to the production of motion pictures to be shown to an audience by radio; note that the performers are shown in silhouette, that being the form in which the pictures are received over the air, and that the cameraman is a woman.

Jenkins with his transmitter, 1929

Washington Post, June 6, 1928

Washington Post, July 21, 1928

Courtesy of John Pinckney

Washington Post, November 20, 1931