Happy 70th Birthday, Television!

by Cate Masters
For a 70-year-old, TV sure looks great. It’s slimmed down to a flat screen from its boxy four-legged beginning way back when.
According to The People History, the word “television” was coined in 1900 at the World’s Fair in Paris by a Russian researcher, one of many who’d been toying with the notion. But it wasn’t until 1928 that the FCC granted the very first TV station license to researcher Charles Jenkins. Wonder what Charlie would think of the medium now? Would he be excited at reality TV? Considering the early shows were mostly live, it probably wouldn’t strike him as all that different.
The US government mandated the complete switchover to digital transmission on June 12 of this year. Any viewers with rabbit ears (and yes, there are a few left, some in my own community) found themselves with screens full of static if they hadn’t prepared. Our Dish Network switch had a few early bumps but went fairly smoothly.
As a dreamy-eyed youngster, the Lone Ranger became my hero. Such a gorgeous horse! I wanted my own Silver trick pony. I’m hoping the rumors are true that Johnny Depp will play Tonto in an upcoming film version.
Without Ed Sullivan, I’d never have fallen in love with Paul McCartney at the tender age of five. Ah, the Liverpool Lads still make me sigh. But I digress…
In grade school, the Monkees became an obsession. I didn’t even care they were Beatles rip-offs. Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, I Dream of Jeannie and Laugh-In were weekly rituals. And oh yes, the Partridge Family.
The nuns during my first eight years of school hated Batman, and each week, would ask students to raise their hands if they watched the previous night’s episode. Then they’d punish the ones who raised their hands. Guess those superhero tights made them a little uptight. Did I raise my hand? No. Did I watch the show? Oh yeah. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel every week.
Some of the most profound moments growing up seemed to center on TV. I saw my parents cry for the first time when news stations broadcast that Kennedy was assassinated. The first moon walk had my family riveted to the set – talk about reality TV.
I’m looking forward to the day when there’s no TV set, but a monitor connected to the CPU. Then I can hit the remote and dial up any movie or show at any time, with no preprogrammed schedule. No more DVD player. No more commercials.
Hulu.com has the right idea. I could watch The Barry Gibb Talk Show every night. It makes me laugh out loud every time.
So now it’s your turn – what were your TV rituals growing up? Do you share any rituals with your family today?

Cate Masters’ novels, novellas, short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various web zines and epress sites. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook.
Now available! One Soul for Sale in ebook or print. You Gotta Read Reviews: Outstanding... an exciting read.


  1. I loved all the shows you mentioned. Of course, we need to throw Gilligan's Island into that mix!

    The early Sci-Fi shows all kept me enthralled: Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone and the goofier ones like The Time Tunnel and The Land of The Giants. Hmm, and My Favorite Martian. Musn't forget that!

    I used to watch Dark Shadows but it arrived when my television time lessened.

    Then came Fantasy Island and Love Boat. *blush* Yup, big fan. However we can admit such things when we're kids. *heh-heh*

    My childhood was a bit chaotic and television actually presented me (and probably many others) with a bit of stability. No matter what happens in your real life, the show must (and does) go on.

    All I remember about the Kennedy assasination was being upset because there were no cartoons on television that day. Yikes.

    Great post! Love to trip down memory lane...

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com

  2. Ooh, Dark Shadows - how could I forget? My sister and I wanted to be Angelique...
    Thanks, Chiron!

  3. Great trip down memory lane. I was a preschool Monkees fan, and I watched the original run of Star Trek even though my dad was sure the monsters would give me nightmares (they never did.)

    Every day at lunchtime I'd watch Kimba the White Lion when I got home between morning and afternoon school periods. Later, The Flintstones was my lunchtime show.

    Saturday always seemed like I'd died and gone to Kid Heaven. Cartoons from daybreak till supper time. And Saturday evenings had The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour, while Sunday night was The Wonderful World of Disney and The Waltons.

    And don't forget Monday nights - Little House on the Prairie. Never missed an episode.

    Once I got to junior high and high school, Sunday nights belonged to PBS and Masterpiece Theatre. A Town Like Alice was the best one of all.

  4. Oh, Kimba! How could I forget that wonderful show? I loved Kimba so very much. Of course, The Flintstones were the best too! Pebbles and Bam-Bam. *grin*

    My favorite cartoon, of course, was Casper. How I adored that little ghost.

    The Wonderful World of Disney... Wow. I still remember the awe as the fireworks would explode on the screen.

    Yes, our childhood really did have some wonderful shows.

  5. Ah yes, cartoons... I loved Bugs Bunny's sarcastic wit. After watching with my own kids, I was amazed at the number of jokes aimed at adults. I'm glad some cartoons continue that tradition. And Sunday night was the only night Disney was available when I was young. Funny.
    Thanks Julia and Chiron!

  6. Oh my gosh, "Kimba"!! I forgot about that show. ... Loved that.

    Do you know what I always loved? I loved that in the fall there would be those specials put on by each network to showcase all the shows for the upcoming season. You'd get to see snippets of The Partridge Family or The Hardy Boys or Charlie's Angels. It seemed they even showed what cartoons they were going to feature that season. With television series now starting at random times of the year (rather than all starting in the fall), I guess the networks can't have those huge specials, but I remember my brothers and I would get our popcorn ready and really looked forward to them!

  7. Loved all of those shows! Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, Get Smart, Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Starsky and Hutch, Welcome Back Kotter, Facts of Life, Different Strokes, Cosby Show, Family Ties - Oh I could go on - very nostalgic for the 70s and 80s especially. Thanks my dear!


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