1950s T.V.

Technology in the 1950s started with many great innovations that shape the way we live now. Probably the most important innovation of television was the introduction of cable T.V., television broadcasting, sitcoms and talk shows. Television went though many changes in its younger years. The way T.V. Developed in the early years is the foundation for what we watched now days. Transitory radios became very popular in the fact that Music could be heard in any location because it was now portable. Still T.V. Innovations were what the 1950s were all about from a technology and the birth of the T.V. show.
In 1950, the use of a single-channel “strip-amp” amplifier permitted the extension of cable systems to homes located even farther from the receiving antenna. In 1957, Jerrold Electronics Corp. began marketing an All-Channel Broadband amplifier for channels 2-13 and the ABC (All-Band-Cascader) covering channels 1-13 plus FM. “The primary challenges and issues in the ’40s and ’50s were everywhere. There were no satellites, no microwaves and we relied on off-air reception. So, our concerns were antennas, and signal-to-noise ratios. So we’re out there trying to figure out co-channel problems, and with limited resources,” said Bill Karnes, one of the first engineers at Jerrold, and the Society of Cable Television Engineers’ (SCTE) first full-time president. Cable T.V. was a big improvement among antennas that could be affected by weather and could produce bad signals and as the 1950s came to an end, cable T.V. left its mark on society.

In the early fifties, young people watched TV more hours than they went to school, a trend which has not changed greatly since that time. What was portrayed on television became accepted as normal. Shows like What’s a My Line debut on CBS, Your Hit Parade premieres on NBC in 1950. In April of 1950 5,343,000 TV sets are in American Homes. In May of 1950, 103 TV Stations in 60 cities were operating. In September 7,535,000 TV sets in USA. In October there were 8,000,000 TV sets.
In 1951 the first baseball games were televised in color, a double-header between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves, by WCBS-TV. Red Barber and Connie Desmond were the announcers. In June there were 13,000,000 television sets in the USA. In September of 1951 the first live sporting event seen coast-to-coast was a college football game between Duke and the University of Pittsburgh, at Pittsburgh and was shown on NBC-TV. Also, on Sept. 4, 1951 the first transcontinental TV broadcast was a speech featuring President Harry S. Truman. The legendary sitcom I Love Lucy premieres on CBS in October of 1951. In 1952 KTLA makes the first telecast of an atomic bomb detonation. The Today show premieres on NBC in 1952.
In 1953 50% of Americans now have a television set in there homes, which is approximately 25,233,000 homes. On Apr. 3, 1953 the first issue of TV Guide is published, with 10 editions and a circulation of 1,562,000 copies. On Aug. 30, 1953 NBC’s Kukla, Fran, and Ollie Show is broadcast in color, the first announced network broadcast in color.

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In March of 1954 Edward R. Murrow denounces Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy on See It Now. On January 1st 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 able to view the show. This is acknowledged as the first day American television officially changed from black-and-white to color. In March there are 370 TV Stations in operation, with another 202 about to come on-line and the first color commercial airs by Pall Mall cigarettes. In April RCA Launches COLOR Television at $1,000 a copy with the price so high less than 5,000 sell the first year.
The First World Series game was broadcast in color, on Sept. 28, 1955. On June 7th The $64,000 Question begins with host Hal March. September 10th, Gunsmoke begins a 20 year run on television. September 20th, both The Phil Silver’s Show and Cheyenne debut. October 1st, the Honeymooners begin a long run with Jackie Gleason as the leading man. October 3rd, The Mickey Mouse Club has its first telecast on ABC. October 3rd, Captain Kangaroo begins on CBS. In 1955 RCA 20,000 color T.V. sets are sold, most all are 21″ models.
In April of 1956 WNBQ of Chicago replaces all black-and-white equipment with color equipment, becoming first TV station to broadcast all its local programming in color and the number 1 daytime soap As the World Turns starts. RCA sells 90,000 color T.V. sets in 1956.

In 1957, 41,000,000 homes now have television in the USA. September 21st Perry Mason begins on CBS. October 4th Leave it to Beaver is first shown on CBS. RCA sells 85,000 color T.V. sets in 1957. Of the half-dozen manufacturers of color sets in this time period, the total sales of all makes and models were about 150,000 units.

In 1958 RCA sells 80,000 color T.V. Sets. September 22nd, Peter Gunn Begins on NBC. October 17th, An Evening with Fred Astaire telecast on NBC.

In 1959 42,000,000 American homes have television; some have 2 sets already in there home. On January 9th Rawhide starts its seven year run. September 12th Bonanza becomes the very first Western in color. October 2nd The Twilight Zone is introduced by CBS. RCA sells 90,000 color T.V. sets. In 1960, after spending more than $130 Million in research and advertising, color television finally records its first profit for RCA. From a production standpoint, the one million units per year barrier are not broken until 1964.
The biggest influenced T.V. on music was the show American Bandstand, first hosted by Bob Horn on a local station in Philadelphia and then called Bob Horn’s Bandstand. On July 9 of 1956 the show got a new host, a 26 year old named Dick Clark. ABC picked the show up, in 1957 and renamed it American Bandstand. Its very first show was on August 5, 1957 the 1st song played on the national edition was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shaking Goin’ On.”. Filmed in the cramped quarters of the WFIL Studios at 46th and Market Streets in Philly, Bandstand is such a part of Americana that Dick Clark’s podium now resides in the Smithsonian. Every big artist wanted to be on America Bandstand and every preteen to teen wanted to dance on American Bandstand. A neat fact that is B.B. King is the only performer NOT to lip-synch on American Bandstand.


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