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Catch Up On the TVs You Missed

TVs are now plentiful, but that wasn’t always the case. This video documents the history of early TVs.

Spencer Chin

February 1, 2024

early TV
This picture of an early TV was representative of sets shown in the Vintage Television Exhibit at the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut.jgroup/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

While high-resolution flat-panel TVs are available today in many sizes and in a range of technologies, consumers 70 years ago did not have all those choices. As this You Tube video from Kirk Stankiewicz shows, the choices back then were low priced and inferior performing, or better performing and expensive.

Stankiewicz showed off many early TV sets at the Vintage Television Exhibit at the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut. Many of the bulky, furniture-like sets were relatively expensive─a set selling for say, $400 to $500 at the time would cost several thousand dollars in today’s currency. There was a set under $100─which today would be worth $450─but it had a puny 3-in. screen with inferior picture quality. Many of the brand names are unrecognizable today─Zenith was known back then but that company produced its last set in 1998.

While the overwhelming number of TVs back then were black-and-white, Stankiewicz did show an early RCA color set, which at the time was developed to demonstrate the feasibility of the then-budding video technology. Stankiewicz shows an encyclopedia-like knowledge of early TV sets, relating their history including in some cases where the sets came from.

Later in the video, he covers sets from the subsequent decades through the 1990s, which showed progress in the incorporation of color, greater portability, and the use of solid-state technology.

You can view the video here.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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