With the 1650 invention of the vacuum pump, scientists were able to study the effects of different material in vacuums, and a more complete study of electricity soon followed. It was recorded as early as 1705 that in vacuums (or near vacuums) electrical discharges could travel a larger distance. Such phenomena became popular as novelties, and even reputable physicists such as Michael Faraday studied the effects of them.
In the late 1800s, physicist Phillip von Lenard studied the cathode rays intently and his work earned him the 1905 Nobel Prize in Physics.
The most popular commercial application of cathode ray technology is in the form of traditional television sets.