THIS YEAR MARKS television's 50th year. At the 1939 World's Fair, RCA launched public transmission with a speech by President Roosevelt projected onto the mirrored lid of its TRK-12.
Although conceived of in Germany in 1884, television has always seemed uniquely American, especially after our own Philo T. Farnsworth invented the electronic picture tube that made viewing in the home possible. Three years before the World's Fair, 150 New York families had enjoyed an experimental telecast of "Felix the Cat."
By 1946, 175,000 Americans were watching Milton Berle on inventively styled sets--geometrically embellished, two-toned wooden consoles, futuristically finned or torpedo-shaped Bakelite table tops and chunky Predictas with swivel picture tubes on top. Tiny screens were augmented by magnifiers.
Five years later, Lucille Ball entertained one-fourth of the country on boxy receivers with bigger screens produced in the United States by 140 companies.