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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

Selective Television  
  A special kind of 'television' that let the user choose any scene around the world.  

Hilton Fore is described as "an easy-going fellow, with merry eyes, a fighter's heart, an insatiable ambition - and two million dollars." He constructed on a mountain in southern California no mere telescope, but a Televisor.

Fore smiled complacently to himself as his fingers played with one of the rheostats of his Televisor. He was certain that if radio waves could encircle the Earth, so could the vision of man, if properly curved and guided.

"...you snap a switch - twirl a few dials - and instantly you can bring to view any scene in North America on one of the screens here. Selective television, with the elimination of a transmitter.

The scientists stood side by side, staring at the great panels which reached from the floor of the vast circular room, atop Helix, to some eight feet above it. Above the top of the panels, which were television screens, the dome began, made of fused quartz...

Floods, fires, holdups, sport events - nothing escaped the all-seeing powers of the telescreens.

From The Challenge of Atlantis, by Arthur J. Burks.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

There were at least 77 different telescreens in the device; the individual screens were each focused on a different area of the country.

Eventually, Fore starts to use a "cosmic ray beam that should have a greater spanning power than the wavelength carrier we have been using." When it's ready, he begins to look beneath the surface of the Earth!

SF fans should note that this is a very early (perhaps the first) use of the word "telescreen." However, I've given that article over to the writer who made it most famous. See telescreen from George Orwell's 1984. Also, see the entry for televisor from The Phantom Televisor (1938) by Bob Olsen.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Challenge of Atlantis
  More Ideas and Technology by Arthur J. Burks
  Tech news articles related to The Challenge of Atlantis
  Tech news articles related to works by Arthur J. Burks

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