Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Early Television Museum

(Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH) Hi 89 Lo 75 -- Yesterday (Saturday) we drove about an hour east of us to visit the Early Television Museum. It's located in an unassuming white warehouse-looking building in the small town of Hilliard, on the western edge of Columbus. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

The museum doesn't do much advertising and we heard about it from a ham radio friend who visited it several years ago. If you're at all interested in the history of television and want to see hundreds of original TVs from the 1930's through the 1950's, this is your place. Admission is free, but the gentleman at the counter emphasized there is a "recommended" donation of $5.00 per person, which was reasonable to us.

There were about 10 rooms full of TVs and equipment, with good signage explaining what we were looking at, along with a lot of historical information about the early work to develop the current television system. Here are some of the rooms.

There was one whole room dedicated to the history of TV broadcast cameras, including an example of an early broadcast production truck.

Most of the developmental work on televisions was done in the 1930's. Pilo T. Farnsworth is generally credited with inventing television, and this info sign tells about him. (If you click on it you can read it.)

Here's a short history of the BBC in England, which started broadcasting in the 1930's, making it the first broadcasting company. The part at the end explaining how they came back from the "interruption" caused by WWII is priceless.

Many of the early sets in England had a unique way of displaying the picture. The picture tubes in those days were so long they couldn't mount them in the cabinet horizontally because the set would stick out from the wall too far. So they mounted them vertically and projected the image on a mirror. Kind of like a primitive version of the big projection sets we remember from 10 or so years ago.

Speaking of projection sets, how about this 1940's version from Bell and Howell.

The first TV sold to the public in the U.S. was a Dumont in 1938. It had a 14-inch screen.

Dumont even developed the first working remote control unit in the early 50's.

Many of the old TVs even worked! The dim pictures on them really made us appreciate how far we've come with our modern HDTVs.

Every room was crowded with TVs and TV-related equipment.

I liked these early "portable" TVs.

How about these ultra-modern portable sets made of new space age plastic. Quite a big deal in the late 50's, I'm sure.

Dee's dad was a TV repairman, so she was very familiar with a lot of the equipment of the mid to late 50's. Color TV was developed during that time, and most of us of a certain age remember the splotchy pictures on the early color TVs. This working model of a 1954 Westinghouse showing a scene from The Wizard of Oz brings back a lot of memories.

Speaking of the 1954 Westinghouse, it was the first model that was offered for sale to the public in the US. According to the info sign, they didn't sell even one.

A month later RCA entered the market with the first color TV that actually "sold" in the US. But they sold very few of them due to the $1,000 price, an amazing amount of money in 1954. When they reduced the price to just under $500 sales finally picked up.

But the first color TV to finally take off in sales was this RCA model introduced in 1956. This is the set I remember seeing in neighbors homes in my youth. (We didn't have a color TV until the early 60's.)

The first time I saw a color TV was when my friend invited me over to watch Bonanza. I'll never forget my amazement in seeing that NBC peacock for the first time in "living color." I also remember my friend's dad getting up from his chair every few minutes to tweak the "tint" knob. It seemed like every time a scene changed, or he changed the channel, he had to tweak the tint. :)

Remember seeing magazine ads for those magnifying lenses you could put in front of your TV to make it a "big screen"?

I think all of us remember the "consoles" that had a TV, radio, and record player in one cabinet. Here's a very early example from England.

This huge model sold in 1948 for over $3,000!

One room had some TVs manufactured by other European countries.

Here's a closer look at that wild looking thing on the back wall, a German Kuba Komet.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Early Television Museum. This is only a fraction of everything on display. We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent there, and highly recommend it.

See you in a few days.


Sandra Merrikin said...

Very cool, I had no idea there was a TV museum near Columbus.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I think I spotted the first TV that we got when I was a kid back in the early 50's. That is quite the place, but I didn't see any HAM gear in there. You did say that a HAM recommended the place. BTW, my call is WB3DZY. That is where I got my nickname of Dizzy.

Mark from Missouri said...

Wonderful that you took so many photos. Thanks for taking the time to do that. Checking out those working TVs would make it a very interesting trip.

Phyllis said...

Neat! Remember when people put a 3 color plastic sheet over the screen? Pesto - Instant color TV.

Bob and Jo said...

An incredible museum, definitely added to our list.