1907, "the action of seeing by means of Hertzian waves or otherwise, what is existing or happening at a place concealed or distant from the observer's eyes" [OED]; in theoretical discussions about sending images by radio transmission, formed in English or borrowed from French télévision, from tele- + vision. Other proposals for the name of this then-hypothetical technology were telephote (1880) and televista (1904). The technology was developed in the 1920s and '30s. Nativized in German as Fernsehen.
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]Meaning "a television set" is from 1955. Shortened form TV is from 1948.