How’s Your TV?

I just read an interesting article on the history of the television. Since the early 1920s, when my parents were babies, we’ve had televisions, but only in the last 50 years have they become a significant part of the American home.

Initially the pictures were fuzzy, and color TVs weren’t offered to the general public until 1954 when I was two years old. Of course it’s hard for me to imagine what Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear would have looked like in black and white!

I remember sitting in the car with my parents outside of Raney’s TV in Pascagoula, Mississippi, watching Bonanza in color on their televisions. They had a small speaker outside the building and about six televisions turned on so people could see one of the first color series. It was fascinating. People would just drive up in cars, roll down their windows, and watch.

By 1960, 87% of American homes had a TV. We had an antenna with an automated antenna tuner so we could click it and turn the antenna to get the best possible signal. We could pick up two stations from Mobile, and, if the weather was really good, we could get a fuzzy picture from New Orleans.

I remember our black and white tube television. When you turned it on it got hot, and when you turned it off there was a little white dot in the middle of the screen until it cooled down. When I was a kid, I would watch TV when I wasn’t supposed to (while my parents were at work). Before they got home, I would turn it off and fan the TV and pray, hoping the little white dot would disappear before judgment came through the door. There were no remote controls, satellite dishes, or cable channels. If you were lucky, you got all three of the major networks.

It wasn’t until 1972 that the sales of color televisions beat the sales of black and white. Cable channels started catching on in the 1980s, and flat screens hit a few years ago. Here are some facts according to TIME Magazine (June 22, 2009).

1927: April 7, the first U.S. public broadcast; the voice and image of President Herbert Hoover.

1947: The first TV couple shares a bed on Mary Kay and Johnny (not to be confused with John and Kate Plus 8). The next may have been on the Flintstones in the 1960s. We know that Rob and Laura had separate beds on the Dick Van Dyke Show as well as Ricky and Lucy on I Love Lucy.

The laugh track started on NBC’s The Hank McCune Show.

1955: Wireless remotes came on the scene, although it would be the late 1960s before my family had one.

1972: The VCR made its debut.

I love to sit down and watch TV when I can. I hate channel surfing, although I must confess that I do it. Terri and I typically buy a TV show on DVD and then watch one episode after supper at night. We like missing the commercials!

Yesterday, I had some work done on the TV upstairs. The home theater system wasn’t working properly. The two guys who fixed it figured it out in a few minutes. It’s so complicated now that I just hire someone to hook up the gadgets. I love having all the “stuff” on one remote. Beforehand, it was a juggling act to handle the audio receiver, TV remote, and DVD remote. Oh, the joys of technology!

Obviously, we are grateful for the impact of technology. It has allowed us, through our 24/7 television station and Sherwood Pictures, to share the gospel with the masses in ways our founders would have never anticipated. The danger is that we are all tempted to become couch potatoes, watching TV and never communicating with one another. Or, we just channel surf and don’t use discernment or a discriminating eye to know what to watch and what to turn off.

Television, like all things, has the potential for good or evil. It just depends on what you do with it. Remember, you are the one with the remote. Television doesn’t force itself on us, but it can often tempt us to waste our lives by watching things that do not build up or edify.

Now back to my DVD of Huckleberry Hound…Quick Draw McGraw is next!

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