Television History - The First 75 Years
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What Things Cost in 1940:
Car: $800
Gasoline: 18 cents/gal
House: $6,550
Bread: 8 cents/loaf
Milk: 34 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Stock Market: 131
Average Annual Salary: $1,900
Minimum Wage: 30 cents per hour


28M_Car_4-8-1940.JPG (52002 bytes) (52K)
1940 Ford Automobile

1939 RCA TRK12

  • The year 1940 looked promising at first, to the television industry.  But, unfortunately,  television sets were so expensive, with little programming, and with the prospect of world war and uncertainty over jobs, few sets were sold.

  • RCA had launched its TRK-12 in April, 1939 at $600 (about $7,000 in today's money), and quickly reduced the selling price to $395 (about $4,500) early in 1940.  Still, sales lagged.   Additionally, they also released a modified TRK-12, called the TRK-120.  The bottom edge of the cabinet had a continuous strip of black, instead of having a gap in the middle, and the 'magic eye' tuning tube was removed from the radio.

    On March 26th, RCA offered model TT-5, TRK-5 and TRK-12 sets to their employees at a stunning discount.  For example, the TT-5, which normally sold for $199.50, was a mere $75.00.  The only catch was that employees had to retain ownership for one year. 

               March 26, 1940 - RCA Letter (116K bytes) (116K) -  RCA announcement offers sets to employees at a discount

  • In the month of June, RCA and Philco televise the Republican Convention from Philadelphia.
  • A 33 year-old Peter Goldmark announces to the NTSC that CBS has marketable color technology, consisting of a part electronic, part mechanical spinning color wheel system.

Weather Bureau Television Photograph        

March 24, 1940 - NY Weather Bureau (32K bytes) (32K)
March 24, 1940

Text attached to the photo: Easter television for snow bound weather observers. In a hurricane wind blowing 77 miles an hour, a television antenna is shown being placed outside the weather bureau atop Whiteface Mountain, near Lake Placid, New York, to receive New York Easter services and the Fifth Avenue Easter Parade by television. Willard Cody, chief weather observer, Joseph Wiggin, television engineer, and Elbert F. Corwin, director of the Meteorology Station (from left to right) are shown erecting the antenna for the longest reception of a regular network television broadcast. The telecast covered 250 airline miles, from the NBC transmitter in New York and relayed by the General Electric television station near Schenectady.

1940 GE HM-171 5" TV In Operation  (50K bytes) (50K)    1940 - March - GE-HM171 - TEXT   (185K bytes) (185K) - TEXT

On the receiving end of the icy antenna above, this photo shows five weathermen huddled around one of the first General Electric (5" B&W screen, three channel) television sets in operation (this model: HM-171).

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