Sure today it's mostly bullshit, reality TV and assorted other crap interspersed with annoying commercials. But it wasn't always that way.
There was a time when TV was worth watching...A Golden Age.
Anyway here is how it all got started.
First private, experimental television viewing (1926, USA)
First successful public television broadcast (January 1928, USA)
First dramatic program on television, "The Queen's Messenger", broadcast to four television sets! (September 1928, USA)
America's First Electronic Television Set: 1938 DuMont Model-180 - 14" Picture Tube gave an 8" x 10" picture area -- 22 Tubes -- 250 Watts
First Network Television Broadcast -- June 1939 -- Arrival of King and Queen of England at the N.Y. World's Fair -- The picture is broadcast from New York to Schenectady.
First NBC affiliate (November 1939)
In the early days of TV, the program schedules were mailed to customer's homes, placed in newspapers, or handed out for free by radio and television dealers. There were only a few hours of television per day, and one or two channels per city, so the schedules were short. This page gives the history of early program guides, prior to today's national "TV Guide". The FIRST Program Guide - Issued June 30 to July 5th, 1941.
At the onset of World War-II, worldwide television broadcasting was curtailed or halted completely. The country most drastically affected was England, whose TV broadcasting was shut down from noon, September 1, 1939 until June 7, 1946. Approximately 19,000 TV sets were operating in the London area at that time.
In the United States, commercial broadcasting was unaffected until 1942. At that time, virtually all stations went dark with the exception of DuMont's WABD, in New York, who broadcast (with a reduced schedule) throughout the war. Less than 20 stations were in operation nationwide, in the pre-war period. TV was used (among other things) to entertain the troops, provide updates on the war, and to teach the public civil defense and demonstrate emergency first-aid procedures.
June 1946 -- WRGB airs its first commercial -- for Gillette -- which sponsored the Heavyweight Boxing match between Joe Louis and Bill Conn.
April 1948 -- First network newscast reported by Douglas Edwards on the CBS television network.
All of the early remotes were wired to the TV set, usually with a 20 foot long cable (wire). Zenith quickly established itself as the leader in the design and development of the TV remote control. A 1950 magazine advertisement (shown below) announced proudly that to have "..Complete automatic program selection in the palm of your hand.... from anywhere in the room..... [was].... Another Zenith First!"
The first Compact 17 inch CBS Color receiver, demonstrated in New York city, December 1950. The common misconception (then and even now) was that large screen CBS color receivers would require huge spinning wheels for large screen sets. This early prototype utilized an ingenious method to get around the large circular disk -- it used a rotating drum instead!
The first toy advertised on television was Mr. Potato Head. Introduced in 1952, smart marketing put the spud on the tube. At the time, two-thirds of American TVs were owned by families with children under 12. The cute little toy grossed $4 million in his very first year. Mattel says that one of their toys, a Mickey Mouse guitar, was the first toy advertised on TV, but the general consensus is for the spud.
JAN 1st 1954: The first national coast-to-coast colorcast takes place, with the broadcast of the "Tournament of Roses Parade" from Pasadena, California to 21 network stations. There were only 200 RCA electronic color television sets (Model 5 - experimental) able to view the show. This is acknowledged as the first day American television officially changed from black-and-white to color.
What Things Cost in 1954:
Gasoline: 29 cents/gal
Bread: 17 cents/loaf
Milk: 92 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Stock Market: 404
Average Annual Salary: $4,700
Minimum Wage: 75 cents per hour
The first WIRELESS remote control, which used a beam of light aimed at one of the sensors on the four corners of the picture tube, was the Zenith "Flash-matic", released in late 1955, as a built-in, (non-accessory) feature for several 1956 Zenith models. With this wonderful device you were now able to:
1) Turn the TV 'On' or 'Off'
2) Change the channels
3) Mute the sound "of those long annoying commercials"
And the next thing you knew you were watching The Lone Ranger, Combat, The Little Rascals, Superman, The Twilight Zone and far too many other classic shows to name.
On Saturday morning they advertised breakfast cereal with sugar contents of about 70-80% and some of the coolest toys ever known to kids.
I'm still loving this crap.
so when is Battle of the Planets coming back on?
right after Dr. Who
It's on DVD if you really need a fix.