Welcome to the very first installment of Share Your Memories, a new monthly column here at the Television Obscurities blog. I write about obscure and short-lived TV shows because I don’t want them to be forgotten. Likewise, I examine parts of television history that have otherwise faded away over the decades. However, I’m too young to have watched most of the shows I write about. Remember, I was born in the mid-1980s. I wasn’t around for black and white television or the demise of the DuMont Television Network. I didn’t experience the color revolution of the 1960s firsthand.
Watching episodes of obscure TV shows allows me to understand the characters, settings, and plots. With information I’ve gathered from various sources, I do my best to place these shows in the proper historical context. But there’s only so much I can learn from reading contemporary newspaper articles or looking at historical TV schedules. I always ask readers to share their recollections of the TV shows I write about because they may be able to add information I can’t possibly know.
That’s also what I hope to accomplish with Share Your Memories. Every month, I’ll ask readers to share their memories about television. Not just what they watched but how they watched it.
The topic of this inaugural column is simple: Share your memories of your first television. In 1950, less than ten percent of households in the United States had a TV. By the end of the decade, that number jumped to 85%. It grew to 95% by the end of the 1960s. I’m especially interested in hearing from those who remember a time before television, who can recall when their family got their first TV set. The anticipation, the excitement, and potentially the disappointment when it didn’t work or didn’t get very good reception.
I, of course, don’t remember a time before television. My parents bought what became the family TV set before I came along. I don’t remember what it looked like but I know it had knobs. The first TV I do remember was big and black and had five or six buttons along the bottom right edge. For a while, my parents also had a black and white portable TV set that only picked up one or two stations. I can recall twisting the dial in the basement and seeing nothing but snow and occasionally a religious program hosted by a nun.
The first TV I owned personally was a 13-inch Toshiba TV/VCR combo I got in college. I still have it and it still works (for the most part). It’s currently hooked up to my standard definition DVR. I use it to check my over-the-air reception, occasionally record something, and when transferring VHS tapes to DVD.
Do you remember your first TV? Was it black and white? Color? Do you still have it? If you’re old enough to recall the days before television, can you remember when you or your family got a TV? Hit the comments with your recollections and memories.