The Rise of Television

Television In The 1950's


After World War II and the Great Depression, Americans were seeking new and exciting products. Technology was developing and with it came a flood of change to many areas of American life. Television became the dominant form of entertainment during the 1950's with dramas, comedies, and variety shows. Radio was no longer the primary source of this form of enjoyment. By the end of the decade, radio was only used for music, news and sports. Television viewing was on the rise and the Golden Age of Television was born.

The Impact On The Decade

The invention of the television was the most important invention of all time. The political process, free time, and social relationships with family and friends were changed forever. The shared experience of watching TV provided a way for people to discuss many topics ranging from politics, to race, to the Vietnam War, to sports, and to the ideal picture of the American family. With this new technology came competition with other forms of media such as newspaper, magazines and radio. In 1951 there were almost 10 million homes watching TV. By 1959, there were over 45 million households. Four major magazine companies closed and 14 newspapers either joined together or closed. All three major radio networks decided to change their shows to television. Records were now played on the radio to fill the space.

Connection To Today

Not only did the rise of the television in the 1950's bring a much needed escape to Americans after the war and depression, but it paved the way for how we watch TV today. 282 million Americans were watching television in 2014. Clearly, we continue to watch TV to inform us, entertain us, and provide a break from our days. More channels and types of shows are available than ever before. Television is expanding in new ways including internet streaming and DVR watching. More and more Americans are watching their TV on something other than a television. Today, just as in the 1950's, newspaper and magazine companies are continuing to close. Newspaper publishing ranked number 5 on the list of America's fastest dying industries. As you can see, the Golden Age of Television continues on today.


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