Event 83

Beginning 1935 AD

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An early television. This is a 1939 RCA 5″ screen television.
Credit: Early Television Museum. All rights reserved.


Television, for most of us, is an integral part of our lives. The average American watches an astonishing five hours of television a day: news, sports events, movies, documentaries, dramas, comedies, game shows, talk shows, soap operas, reality shows, religious programs, and even infomercials. Television developed in the 1930’s, with moving images collected by cathode ray tubes and converted to electrical impulses could be sent over the airwaves and picked up by televisions with antennae. One of the first major showcases of television technology was the ominous 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin during the rise of Nazi Germany. By the late 1940’s, three network television stations had been established in the United States: ABC, CBS, and NBC, and television began to be a major focal point of the household.

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A photo of Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody from the State Library and Archives of Florida. Photographed by Roy Erickson, ca. February thru May of 1972.
Credit: Photo by Roy Erickson, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Many of the popular stars of the Age of Radio made the successful transition to television, but others did not. Soon after the advent of television Ned Minnow, the first president of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission that oversaw radio and television) described television as a “vast wasteland” due to its lack of quality programming (his opinion). Black-and-white sets were replaced by color television in the early 1960’s. Satellite technology in the 1960’s made live broadcasts possible, revolutionizing journalism, and today, with cable and satellite connection, we can access virtually hundreds of stations if we wish.




Television is probably the most important form of media in our society today. This technology is already about 75 years old, but is always improving (e.g. color TV, stereo audio, LCD screens, plasma screens, high-definition TV). You probably spend more time in front of your television than you care to admit, but it is a major part of our lives and a major source of information about the world (if used wisely!).




This is a video about the history of the television.

This is a Wikipedia webpage about the history of television.

This is a Wikipedia webpage about the television.



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