at the museum

First televisions


Today, one can watch television anywhere on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or in every room of the house on a wall-to-wall LED screen. This wasn’t always the case when TV sets were introduced. They were a small screen encased in a wooden cabinet with large anode tubes in the back and a set of “rabbit ears” on top of the cabinet to catch the radio waves from the two or three channels available and only during daylight hours.

Radio Corporation of America (RCA), an innovative and progressive company, was founded in 1919 and dominated the industry for over five decades.

RCA was the major manufacturer of radios and also credited with creating the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). They were the pioneers in the introduction of both black and white and color televisions.

The first TV was introduced on April 30, 1939, but not sold throughout the country until July 1, 1941.

Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Beck installed the first TV set in their home in Sept. 15, 1952.

The set pictured was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Arlie Steenson.

The table was built for this television by LeRoy Koch.


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