Sometimes new inventions come around that change our lives and our culture forever. An example of such an invention would be the home television. Many modern Americans would struggle to think of what their lives would be like without at least one television in their household. Some might even consider this to be a nightmare.
The truth is, televisions haven’t always been around, and they certainly haven’t always been the large flat screens that we have grown so accustomed to. In the early twentieth century, TVs didn’t even exist yet. From the information I can find, the first televisions sold to the public were mechanical televisions in 1928. Electronic televisions were still in the works and began broadcasting in the United States in 1941. Even though this was a big breakthrough for the new exciting technology of television, the progress was halted due to the war. World War II caused a temporary stop to the manufacturing and sales of televisions. After the war, RCA began selling the first “post-war” TVs in 1946.
Hopefully we all know that TVs back then were way different than they are now. Originally, home television sets were bulky, but the screen was small. Something the size of a portable DVD player would have been considered a large screen television at the time. Another nightmare for modern Americans might be the fact that remote controls didn’t even exist! You actually had to get up and manually change the channel or the volume. The thousands of channels that we are used to is a huge difference from the original 12 or 13 that were available.
Televisions have obviously made numerous advancements over the years to become what they are now. Television isn’t the only thing that has changed during this time. We have changed as a society because of television. We went from television being a luxury to it being a norm. The availability of programming has increased significantly over time, and because of this we have immersed ourselves more and more over the years.
Originally, there were limited hours as to when programming was available. Over time, the hours increased until there was always something to watch on TV. We’ve even graduated the availability in recent years. Not that long ago, when I was a kid, you had to watch your favorite show when it first aired or you would miss it until a rerun came along. Unless, of course, you had a blank tape and set your VCR to record the show that you were going to miss. For the most part, you had to watch shows during their air time in order to see them. DVRs have made this no longer necessary. Thanks to DVR, you can now set multiple shows to record and watch them at your convenience.
This huge availability has made television shows and stars a very prominent part of our culture. Pretty much everyone watches TV. If you don’t watch TV, it makes it harder to participate in society. I personally have not had cable (partly by choice, partly because of money) for three years. In this time, I have watched very few shows. I am able to watch my favorite show (How I Met Your Mother) that my parents record at their house and save to watch with me. When I have been in groups of people over the last few years, it is common for them to begin talking about the shows they watch and what happened on this week’s episode. I always chime in that I feel left out because I don’t watch shows and don’t have cable. This always receives a reaction of, “You don’t have cable?! How do you live without cable?” Frequently, they will also offer up suggestions of how I can start to watch this show that they love that they think my life is incomplete without.