The T.V. Boom of 1950
Perhaps the most far reaching change in communications worldwide was the advancement in the area of television broadcasting. During the 1950's, television became the dominant mass media as people brought television into their homes in greater numbers of hours per week than ever before.
In the early fifties, young people watched TV more hours than they went to school, a trend which has not changed greatly since that time. What was portrayed on television became accepted as normal. The ideal family, the ideal schools and neighborhoods, the world, were all seen in a way which had only partial basis in reality. People began to accept what was heard and seen on television because they were " eye witnesses " to events as never before (live TV) . Programs such as 'You Are There' brought historical events into the living rooms of many Americans. The affect on print news media and entertainment media was felt in lower attendance at movies and greater reliance on TV news sources for information.
Then, in 1954, black and white broadcasts became color broadcasts. Shows called "sitcoms" like The Honeymooners, Lassie, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and I Love Lucy featured popular characters whose lives thousands of viewers watched and copied. Families enjoyed variety shows like Disneyland and The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evenings. Daytime programs like Guiding Light, "soap operas" were popular and helped advertisers sell many products to the homemakers of America. News broadcasting changed from newsmen simply reading the news to shows which included videotaped pictures of events which had occurred anywhere in the world, and then to more and more live broadcasts of events happening at the time of viewing.
This was made possible in 1951 with the development of coaxial cable and microwave relays coast to coast. When Edward R. Murrow began offering his weekly radio program called "Hear It Now" on TV as " See It Now", the world of news broadcasting was irrevocably changed.
Early Color Television
In the early 1950s, two competing color TV systems emerged. CBS proposed a system which transmitted an image in each of the three primary colors sequentially. A wheel with segments of red, green, and blue rotated in front of the camera, while a similar wheel rotated in front of the television screen, synchronized to the one at the camera. The advantage of the system was that it was inexpensive. Eventually, the wheel at the receiver could be replaced with a tri-color picture tube when the cost of these tubes came down. Unfortunately, the system was not compatible with the black and white standard.
The other system was proposed by RCA, and was eventually adopted by the FCC. It used no mechanical parts, and was compatible with black and white sets. For a few months, test broadcasts were done using the CBS system. Some manufacturers, such as Admiral , made adaptors for the CBS standard. Later, the FCC adopted the RCA compatible system. The first color television sets for this system were sold in 1954. They used a 15 inch screen. Later that year, 19 inch sets were made, and by 1955 all sets were made with a 21 inch picture tube. Several manufacturers made 15 and 19 inch sets, most in very small quantities. The first set was made by Westinghouse, and sold for $1295. RCA introduced the CT-100 a few weeks later, at a price of $1000. GE sold its 15 inch set for $1,000, Sylvania's cost $1,150. Emerson rented color sets for $200 for the first month and $75/month thereafter.
By the summer of 1954 there was already a shakeout. A headline in the New York Times said "Set Buying Lags - Public Seen Awaiting Larger Screens, Lower Prices". Motorola and CBS promised a 19 inch screen at $995. In 1955, Raytheon introduced a 21 inch set for $795 and CBS offered a trade-in of up to $400 for their black and white sets towards the purchase of a $895 21 inch color model. By the end of 1957 only 150,000 color sets had been sold.