The History of TV in the United States began with the invention of the television. In 1923, an American named Charles Francis Jenkins successfully transmitted pictures of the President Herbert Hoover through the radio, paving the way for the development of the mechanical television.
Jenkins envisioned a future in which people would be able to watch television shows in the comfort of their own homes. The mechanical television had some drawbacks, however, including being slow and murky.
Television began as a novelty for many people, and by the mid-20th century, the American public was agog about it. While few homes had televisions, there would be crowds forming in front of stores and taverns where televisions were installed. By the late 1950s, half of the U.S. population had television sets.
RCA’s National Broadcasting Company began broadcasting regularly from New York. This network broadcasted the opening of the New York World’s Fair and the first televised baseball game. However, the development of commercial television takes a back seat during World War II. In 1945, RCA introduces the image orthicon camera tube, which provides better light sensitivity and a higher picture quality. During this decade, the first colour television advertisements air on NBC. Interestingly, the idea of color television was first patented by a German in 1904.
After the introduction of color television, network television programs became increasingly popular. Medical dramas began to flourish and realistic police dramas were also popular. Star Trek helped to create a niche for the science fiction and fantasy genres. During the 1960s, feature films began to appear on television. By the end of the decade, network television began airing movies that were made specifically for television. In the 1970s, networks began producing limited-run series. One of the most popular series was The Roots, which lasted for nearly a decade.
The history of television in the US is littered with major changes. Major networks compete with one another for advertising dollars and ratings. During the early years, NBC and CBS dominated the field. However, in the mid-1970s, ABC began gaining popularity due to its savvy scheduling.
Cable networks continue to grow. In the 1980s, home videocassette recorders became widely available. These made it possible for people to record television programs and rent movies. In addition, video games became popular with young people. In the 1990s, the number of cable networks grew dramatically. Direct-broadcast satellite television enabled more channels to be distributed. During the same period, pay-per-view became available to more households.
The 1960s are also significant in the history of television in the United States. It marks the birth of the modern television industry. The advent of television makes television more accessible, and the television set becomes a mainstay in most households. By the end of the decade, over half of all US households have a television. Moreover, the number of television sets increases to 100 million and the number of TV viewers increases. With the growth of television, the US has become a true “television society.”
Color television entered prime-time broadcasting in the United States in 1964. The FCC initially approved CBS’s color system, but Sarnoff and other companies flooded the market with black-and-white sets compatible with the RCA color standard. By the end of the decade, nearly every household had at least one color television set. The RCA and CBS color systems were not compatible with each other, and the competition was fierce.
Television viewers have gotten smarter with the advent of over-the-top streaming. Networks like NBC, WWE, and HBO created monthly subscription services for shows like “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” Streaming music, skimming YouTube, and watching favorite shows on one device is increasingly common. Another mind-blowing technological breakthrough was the introduction of TiVo. This new technology quickly replaced VCRs.
Television also became a great news source. In 1961, President Kennedy gave the first live televised press conference. In the same year, the FCC introduced regulations governing cable. These rules required cable operators to blackout programming broadcasting in distant markets and duplicate local station programming. In 1964, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, garnering 73 million viewers.
By the end of the decade, television broadcasts began to feature live programming from all over the world.