Television image

History of Television 1930-2014

  • radio hits peak popularity

    radio hits peak popularity
    Radio hits the peak of its popularity and financial success in the late '30s.
  • Period: to

    Timeline of TV Tech

    Evolution of television technology and its cultural significance in North America.
  • first TV broadcasts in US

    The first regular broadcast of TV programs in the US happen in 1939.
  • WW II delays TV development

    Like radio before it, the technnological development of television is delayed by world war.
  • TVs appear in print ads

    In the early '40s, TV sets show up in magazine layouts even before most people have one.
  • "family unity" sells TVs

    In the early '40s, TV is credited with maintaining family togetherness. The ideal of the "family circle" is used to promote television to the public.
  • FCC authorizes first TV transmission

    The Federal Communications Commission authorized the start of commercial television transmission on July 1, 1941.
  • FCC sees necessity of UHF development

    The Federal Communications Commission recognizes the need to develop programming on the wider ultra-high frequency (UHF) band.
  • uncertainty in station licensing causes TV sales drop

    Indecisiveness on the part of the Federal Communications Commission delays development of programming on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band. As a result, sales of television sets stagnates.
  • RCA sells first TVs for $350

    RCA sells its first TV sets for $350 USD, which was equivalent to approximately 10% of the average annual US salary.
  • TV development improves post-war

    After the end of World War II, development in TV technologies improves, but there is still limited programming and the programs are of low quality.
  • post-war reputation of broadcasting is high

    At the end of World War II, broadcast industries are held in high esteem by the public and are financially healthy.
  • new stations result in higher TV sales

    Numerous new television stations were established in 1947, causing an increase in the number of TV sets sold.
  • Truman first president to address nation on TV

    US President Harry S. Truman is the first president to address the nation on television.
  • The year 1948 declared "Television Year"

    Business Week magazine proclaims 1948 as "Television Year."
  • cable TV available in US

    Cable TV first becomes available in the US in 1948, with subscription services available in 1949.
  • radio revenues support TV development

    Broadcast companies like NBC-RCA make plans to use revenue generated from successful radio operations to support the development of television.
  • TVs available in Sears catalogue

    The Sears Roebuck catalogue sells television sets.
  • major growth in TV industry

    The beggining of the 1950s saw a major growth in the development of television technology and the TV industry.
  • boom in sales of TV receivers

    The early 1950s saw a boom in the sale of TV receivers.
  • TV gets content from radio & movies

    In the early '50s, much of the content for television is drawn from ideas in radio and motion pictures. Next to follow is adventure and comedy series like "I Love Lucy."
  • TV tech is unreliable

    Despite growth in the TV industry of the early 1950s, the technology is still unreliable. Users experience interrupted signals and picture tube failure in their sets. The TV repair shop is a common fixture in neighborhoods.
  • 6 million TVs sold in US

    Over six million TV sets were sold in the US, bringing the total number of sets to over 9.7 million, in 9% of American households.
  • Red Channels report on communists blacklists actors

    Red Channels reportIn June of 1950, a document called "Red Channels: the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television" was circulated to TV network executives. It contained the names of actors who were supposedly involved in subversive or Communist activities. The result was that many actors were blacklisted during this time and unable to work on television.
  • first colour TV broadcast

    In June of 1951, CBS television broadcast the first program in full colour.
  • cable TV available in Canada

    The first Canadian cable TV station was established in London, Ontario, to broadcast a signal from Cleveland, US.
  • FCC agrees to development of UHF

    The Federal Communications Commission agrees to allow development of programming on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band.
  • CBC TV debuts

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts its first television programming on this day. CBC begins TV broadcasting
  • TVs in 50% of American homes

    By 1953, half of all homes in the US have a television set.
  • Lucy trumps Eisenhower

    On January 20, 1953, 29 million people watched the televised coverage of the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The next day, 44 million viewers tuned in to see the birth of "Little Ricky" on I Love Lucy.
  • first colour TVs available

    The first commercial (available to the public) colour televisions were available in 1953, though colour programming is still limited. 1953 Compatible Colour TV Announcement
  • 50% TV market share in 2 networks

    Half of the television audience market share resides with two networks, NBC and CBS, operating 12 stations. ABC is a distant third place.
  • first national colour broadcast

    The first national broadcast in full colour was the Tournament of Roses Parade, on January 1, 1954. The coverage was aired by NBC.
  • first RCA consumer colour TV

    RCA produced the first consumer colour television set, at a price of $1,000 USD. It had a 12-inch screen in a box cabinet.
  • first Tonight Show

    The first broadcast of the Tonight Show was on September 27, 1954 on NBC. It featured Steve Allen as host. Steve Allen on first Tonight Show broadcast
  • public believes TV is good for family

    In the mid 1950s, people generally believed that television strengthened the family bond and created "togetherness". They believed TV would keep children at home and prevent delinquency and behaviour problems.
  • first wireless TV remote

    In 1955, an engineer for the Zenith company invented the first wireless TV remote, the "Flash-Matic". first wireless TV remote
  • production costs result in 50/50 split of financing

    In the mid 1950s, rising production costs result in multiple advertising sponsors for single programs. The financing model is for 50% of costs to be covered by advertising, and 50% by licensing fees.
  • colour TV price drops

    The price of a colour television set drop to $500.
  • Elvis scandalous on Ed Sullivan

    Elvis Presley scandalized the nation when he performed a hip-gyrating version of "Hound Dog" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Elvis Hound Dog on Sullivan
  • Nat King Cole first black man to have variety show

    Singer, pianist and performer Nat King Cole was the first black man to host his own variety show, on NBC. Nat King Cole variety show
  • Gunsmoke and Perry Mason hit shows

    In 1957, the western Gunsmoke was the top-rated television show. That same year saw the debut of the courtroom drama, Perry Mason. Gunsmoke premiere episode The Best of Perry Mason
  • 67 million TVs in US

    By 1960, there are over 67 million televisions in the United States. Over half a million of them are colour TVs.
  • Kennedy-Nixon first presidential debates on TV

    The first televised presidential debates were held beginning September 26, 1960, featuring candidates Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon. 76 million people, or 2/3 of the American population watched. Kennedy-Nixon debates part 1
  • BBC rebroadcasts USSR astronaut welcome

    The BBC rebroadcasts a live broadcast from the USSR, welcoming home a Russian astronaut.
  • Kennedy first president to hold live TV conference

    US President John F. Kennedy was the first president to hold a live, televised news conference. The broadcast was transmitted from the State Department auditorium. Kennedy first to hold live TV news conference
  • Carson takes over Tonight Show

    In 1962, Johnny Carson began his career at host of the Tonight Show, a role he would inhabit for 30 years. Carson takes over Tonight Show
  • first trans-Atlantic satellite broadcast

    On July 23, 1962, the first transAtlantic video was broadcast via Telstar, the worl's first telecommunications satellite. first trans-Atlantic satellite broadcast
  • Beverly Hillbillies top show

    The Beverly Hillbillies is the top-rated show in 1963. Beverly Hillbillies opening theme
  • Beatles on Ed Sullivan

    The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show, performing the song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan
  • Canada gets colour TV

    Colour television broadcasting comes to Canada in 1966.
  • Mr. Dressup debuts on CBC

    CBC airs the children's show Mr. Dressup, featuring Ernie Coombs as the title character. The beloved program will run until 1997. Mr. Dressup on CBC
  • Laugh-In top show

    Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In" is the top-rated show on television. The quick-change scenes change the style and pace of TV comedy. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
  • early CRTC established

    Canada establishes the Canadian Radio and Television Commission which has the responsbility for regulating broadcasting and telecommunications.
  • broadcast of first moon walk

    American astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon, and the walk is telecast by satellite and viewed by 720 million people around the world. Armstrong made his now famous statement, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." First walk on the moon broadcast to 720 million
  • PBS established

    The Public Broadcasting Service was established, providing programs to public television stations. PBS established
  • All in the Family first videotaped show

    All in the family was the first television program to be videotaped. It was the top show on TV until 1975, and broke new ground by covering a number of controversial subjects. All in the Family opening theme
  • 50% TVs are colour

    Half of all television sets owned in the US are colour.
  • HBO offers pay TV

    Home Box Office (HBO) begins offering pay television service in the United States.
  • Nixon impeachment inquiry begins on TV

    After more than a year of allegations of impeachable conduct, the US House of Representatives began a formal inquiry into the impeachment of US President Richard M. Nixon. The public was able to view the whole impeachment process on TV as it unfolded. Nixon was later found guilty and eventually became the first US president to resign his post. Nixon impeachment inquiry on TV
  • Nixon resigns on live TV

    After a lengthy investigation into charges of impeachable conduct, US President Richard M. Nixon resigns his post on a live television broadcast. Nixon resigns on live TV
  • HBO offers satellite programming

    Home Box Office (HBO) offers television programming via satellite.
  • Sony Betamax on market

    Sony introduces the Betamax format VCR player/recorder. It goes on the market for $1,300.
  • Roots miniseries airs to record viewership

    ABC TV aired the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley's novel of the same name, beginning on January 23, 1977. The broadcast earned record Nielsen ratings in addition to 37 Emmy Award nominations.
  • First VHS machines sold in US

    The Victor Company of Japan (JVC) begins selling the first VHS format videocassette recorder in Japan in 1976. A model designed for the American market comes available the next year. VHS enters US market
  • 98% US homes have TV

    In 1978, 98% of American homes have a television set.
  • Dallas airs on CBS

    The primetime soap opera, Dallas, begins broadcast on April 2, 1978. The program would run until 1991, with the cliffhanger "Who Shot J.R.?" episode earning the place of the second highest primetime broadcast ever. Dallas original series opening theme
  • CNN launches 24-hour news

    The Cable News Network (CNN) based in Atlanta, Georgia begins a program of 24-hour news broadcasting. The constant news coverage impacts the way the public perceives world events. CNN launches 24-hour news
  • MTV premieres

    Music Television (MTV) begins broadcast of an all music-video channel. The first song played is The Buggles', "Video Killed the Radio Star." Over time, MTV comes to offer regular television programming and specials. MTV Canada
  • MASH final most-watched show

    The final episode of the Korean War drama MASH garners the largest viewing audience for a TV show in history. Over 50 million households or over half the homes in the US were tuned into the episode. MASH final episode promo
  • The Cosby Show debuts

    The Cosby Show, featuring comedian Bill Cosby, debuts on NBC. It offers a different view of African-American family life from previous television programming. The show ran until 1992 and spawned a number of spinoffs. The Cosby Show
  • Blockbuster Video opens

    Blockbuster Video opens in Dallas, Texas, offering rentals of movie videos and games for the public. The company reached its peak of success in 2004, with over 60,000 employees in more than 9,000 stores. Blockbuster Video launches
  • satellite providers scramble signals

    Satellite television providers begin scrambling their signals and offering decoders for sale with paid service subscriptions. Home satellite dishes begin to appear in neighborhoods.
  • described video becomes available

    Described video (DV) service, for the visually impaired, is available primarily on PBS programming. The service is becomes increasingly available over time and is offered on selected programs on all major networks by 2010. described video service
  • Fox TV debuts

    The Fox Broadcasting Company commences broadcast and goes up against NBC, CBS and ABC to become the fourth national network. It earned the spot as the most-watched network in the 2007-2008 season. Fox Broadcasting Company info
  • US homes average 5 radio

    By 1990, the average American home owns five radios.
  • 200 million VCRs sold worldwide

    By 1990, 200 million VCRs are sold each year worldwide.
  • Cartoon Network debuts

    The Turner Broadcasting System purchases the archives of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. and establishes the Cartoon Network. Hanna-Barbera assets include animated classics like The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo and The Yogi Bear Show. The Cartoon Network
  • closed captioning mandatory on TVs

    The US Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 mandates that all television sets with a screen 13 inches or larger must contain a built-in caption decoder for Closed Captioning (CC). The subtitles provided by CC enable viewing for the hearing impaired. TV closed captioning
  • RCA introduces wide-screen TV

    RCA introduces the first widescreen televisions, with 16:9 aspect ratio, in anticipation of the arrival of high definition television (HDTV).
  • Viacom pays $9.75B for Paramount

    Viacom Inc. wins a drawn-out battle against QVC for the purchase of Paramount Communications Inc, at a purchase price of 9.75 billion dollars. Paramount's holdings include Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster Publishing, Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers hockey team and New York Knicks basketball team.
  • Turner Classic Movies launches

    Turner Classic Movies (TCM) launches as a cable and satellite network in 1994. The network features films mainly from the Turner Entertainment film library, including the films of Warner Bros. and Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Turner Classic Movies website
  • PBS online debuts

    In 1995, PBS begins offering online programming to its viewers.
  • Disney pays $19B for ABC

    In the second-largest corporate takeover ever, the Walt Disney Company acquires Capital cities/ABC Inc. for 19 billion dollars.
  • Westinghouse buys CBS for $5.4B

    The Westinghouse Electric Corporation purchases CBS, the last independent network, for a price of 5.4 billion dollars.
  • 20 billion TVs worldwide

    By 1996, there are 20 billion television sets in homes worldwide.
  • link between TV watching and childhood obesity

    Childhood pediatric researchers discover a link between hours of TV watched by children and their likelihood of being overweight. <a href='">obesity</a&gt' >obesity-TV watching link in kids</a>
  • MSNBC launched

    Satellite news channel MSNBC is launched from a base in New Jersey.
  • first HDTV broadcast in US

    The first public high definition television (HDTV) broadcast in the US took place in 1996.
  • Netflix offers online movie rentals

    In 1997, Netflix offers an online movie rental service.
  • DVD players for sale in US

    The first digital video disc (DVD) players were available in Japan in 1996, and in the US in 1997. DVDs debut in US
  • Canadian TV ratings system implemented

    The Canadian TV Classification System is approved by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in June 1997 and, iimplemented by broadcasters in September of that year. The system is created to help determine suitable content for viewers. CRTC TV ratings system
  • NBC pays $13M per episode for ER

    NBC agrees to pay 13 million dollars per episode for the medical drama ER, the highest ever amount paid for a TV series. NBC pays $13M for ER
  • TiVo launched

    TiVo, a digital video recording system, is available in the US. The system allows viewers to record and play back television programs.
  • Netflix offers movie rental subscription

    In 1999, Netflix offers an online movie rental subscription, allowing consumers to view an unlimited number of movies for one monthly price.
  • "Millionaire" game show debuts

    The game show, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is the first American game show to offer a one million dollar prize. It airs three times weekly in its first season and takes the number 1, 2 and 3 spot in the Nielsen ratings. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
  • Viacom and CBS announce $35.6B merger

    Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. announce a 36.5 billion dollar merger, the largest media merger in US history. Viacom CBS merger
  • AOL-Time Warner largest corporate merger

    The merger of media giants AOL and Time Warner is the largest corporate merger in history. The new entity becomes the world's largest media and entertainment company.
  • reality programming top rated shows

    In the year 2000, 7 out of 30 of the top rated shows are reality programming. Tied for top rating are Survivor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
  • movie sales $8.4B

    Despite the availability of online programming and video rentals, movie box office sales remain healthy at $8.4 billion in 2001.
  • DVD outsells VCR

    The sales of DVD players surpass the numbers of VCR purchases in 2002.
  • DVDs in 40 million homes

    By 2002, 40 million US homes have a DVD player.
  • AOL-Time Warner offers home services

    In 2005, AOL-Time Warner offices services in telephone, cable and Internet for homes.
  • analog TV ends

    In 2009, the final broadcast of analog TV ends. All future transmissions will be in digital format. Consumers will be required to own television sets capable of receiving digital signals.
  • 3D TV gets cool response

    3D television for homes debuts, but consumer interest is low due to the cost and the need for 3D glasses.
  • Netlix offered on mutliple formats

    By 2010, Netflix offers programming for television, Internet, iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, Nintendo Wii, PS3, and other Internet-connected devices.
  • Blockbuster video closes storefront operations

    Video rental giant Blockbuster begins closure of all its brick-and-mortar stores worldwide. The company folds as a result of competition from online-only movie rental sites like Netflix and Hulu. Blockbuster video closes Blockbuster eventually transitions to an online site called Blockbuster On Demand.
  • 200 million TVs in US

    There are now over 200 million televisions sets present in US homes.
  • The Spot is first web-only tv show

    In 1995, New York filmmaker Scott Zakarin debuts the first internet television program, The Spot. The program is billed as “the first interactive, episodic series on the worldwide system of computers known as ‘the Internet.’” The Spot web program <a href='' >
  • Phillips flat screen sells for $15,000

    In 1998, Phillips markets a 42-inch flat-screen plasma TV for approximately $15,000. Phillips flat screen TV