A year or so ago, an executive from an electronics company (Apple, if I remember correctly) spoke of the lack of innovation in television sets since the 1950s, and my reaction was “He's either stupid or thinks I am.”
In the 1950s, televisions had knobs on the set for changing channels and adjusting the volume. Remote controls were brand new, expensive, limited in capability, and used ultrasound rather than infrared.
The screens were vacuum tubes, and most were monochrome. Color television was brand new, and it was nearly 1960 before any stations started broadcasting in color. Rather than being rectangular, color screens were almost round; even black and white sets' screens weren't true rectangles.
They had no transistors, let alone integrated circuits; the IC had yet to be invented, and transistors were only used by the military. They were a brand-new invention. TVs didn't have the “no user-serviceable parts” warning on the back. When the TV wouldn't come on, as happened every year or three, the problem was almost always a burned out vacuum tube. One would open the back of the set and turn it on. Any tubes that weren't lit were pulled and taken to the drug store or dime store for replacement. If that didn't fix the problem you called an expert TV repairman.
The signal was analog, and often or usually suffered from static in the sound, and ghosts and snow in the picture.
There was no cable, and of course no satellite television since nothing built by humans had ever gone into space.
However, there is one thing about television that hasn’t changed a single iota: daytime TV programming.
In the 1950s most folks were well paid, and a single paycheck could easily pay for a family's expenses. Most women, especially mothers, stayed home. As a result, daytime TV was filled with female centered programming like soap operas, game shows, and the like. Usually there were cartoons in the late afternoon for the kids.
Today the rich have managed to get wages down so low that everyone has to have a job. The demographics of daytime television have radically changed as a result. Now, rather than housewives (of which few are left, and we now have house husbands as well), who can watch daytime TV? Folks home from work sick, both men and women, folks in the hospital, the unemployed, and retired people.
Yet daytime TV is still as female centered as it was when I was five. Soap operas, talk shows with female hosts and female guests discussing topics that would only appeal to women, and game shows.
What's wrong with the idiots running our corporations these days?
November 29, 2015

 


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