53 Million TV Sets by 1960
July 1952 Radio-Electronics

July 1952 Radio-Electronics

July 1952 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

According to the statista.com website, there are about 1.72 billion television sets in the world as of 2021. Radio-Electronics magazine editor Hugo Gernsback claims there would be 53 million TV sets by 1960, eight years in the future from this 1952 issue. If so, it would represent a 300% increase over the 1952 number, which would be about 13-14 million. From 14 million to 1.72 billion is more than a 121% increase in seven decades. That's roughly a 7.1% growth (14E6 x 1.07170 = 1.70E9). How did I calculate that, you might ask? Take the 70th root of 121 = 70√121 = 121(1/70) = 1.0709. To check the answer, 1.070970 = 120.9. Consider also that the current TV set number does not include watching television shows on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Similarly, if the number of radios in use in 1952 compared to today would not reflect the streaming radio shows listened to via the Internet. This demonstrates how when collecting statistics, the reporter needs to have enough knowledge of the big picture to either include it in the numbers, or provide a note along with the numbers explaining what the presentation's method and sources are.

... Unlimited vistas are opened for television ...

53 Million TV Sets by 1960, July 1952 Radio-Electronics - RF Cafe

By Hugo Gernsback

In the past we have been highly optimistic about the future of the electronics industry - and sometimes we have been criticized for it. It appears now that perhaps we held our enthusiasm too firmly in check.

In a forecast made last month, Dr. W. R. G. Baker, vice president of the General Electric Company and general manager of its electronics division, declared that more than 53,000,000 television receivers would be in operation by 1960. This would constitute a 300% rise over present-day receivers, which now number around 18,000,000. This is 5,000,000 more than the number of homes which may reasonably be expected to have electricity by 1960. Dr. Baker also indicated that there will be a very substantial increase in the number of television sets in clubs, bars, and many other non-home locations.

What did Dr. Baker have in mind when he said that 5,000,000 more. sets would be used than the number of houses wired for electricity? Obviously either a significant percentage of homes will have more than one television receiver (this closely parallels the present vogue of multiple radio sets in the home) or, there would be battery-operated television sets, now practically unknown.

The latter, in view of the terrific strides made by electronics recently, now looms as a certainty. The reason, of course, lies in the transistor-electronics' latest wonder child. To us it seems certain that by 1960 there will be millions of such battery television sets, and most of them will be portables for home and outdoor use. This again would parallel the vogue of portable radio sets, which has been on the upgrade during the past few years. It is certain, also, that these receivers will parallel the engineering of some of our present radios, which can be either used as straight portables with batteries, or can be plugged into any handy electric outlet.

Indeed, if we add the portable television sets to the stationary ones, we will find that by 1960, Dr. Baker's 53,000,000-television-receivers forecast may well be exceeded.

Add to this dizzying pyramid of television receivers, color television, which will be here long before 1960, and it will be found that many more millions of television receivers will have to be added to the grand total.

From the present outlook, it would appear that when color television sets are finally placed upon the market, they will be operated by compatible means. That is, present-day receivers will be able to receive color telecasts in black and white just as they do now, while color television sets will, of course, have full color. This inevitably means that many homes, public places, hotels, etc., will have a multiplicity of sets, the old ones receiving in black and white, the new ones-installed in another location in the building or in another room - in full color.

It remains to be seen what the impact of color television will mean to the public, but from the meager experience that we have had with color television so far, it seems reasonably certain that once color television receivers are made, the manufacture of black and white sets will lag far behind color sets. Indeed, it would appear that within 25 years, the black and white television receiver will be on a par with the crystal set today!

One of the largest-television outlets in the future probably will be our larger hotels. Just as most first-class hotels today have radios in every room, so they will have television in every room, if they wish to be up-to-date and give their, guests every facility that Americans demand. While television sets are costly, by 1960 they will be as much a hotel necessity as the proverbial bath tub, and no up-to-date hotel will wish to be without them. How many millions of television sets will be installed in hotels be-tween now and 1960 is anyone's guess. One thing is certain, the quantity will be enormous.

The small and medium size hotels will probably furnish regulation TV receivers to their guests on a rental basis at so much a day, as is the present custom. The big hotels however, of 300 rooms and up, even today find it a nuisance to send up sets from their store rooms - the wear and tear is too great and the manpower requirements often impossible. Then there is the inevitable antenna problem - always a difficult one in large congested cities.

The future large-hotel television receiver will probably be compact, the size dependent upon the screen dimension. The main component will be a television tube, power supply and speaker with a switch for the different channels. A central point will feed the amplified TV impulses to each room. This system also eliminates the antenna nuisance. Such hotel television receivers will be reasonable in price yet they will bring in as good a picture as a complex regulation set.

At the present time, practically all hotels charge a fee for television receivers in hotel rooms. It is quite possible that by 1960 most hotel-room television sets will be coin-operated. We already today have such receivers in many hotel and motels. You feed the set either quarters or dimes and thus have its use for a certain length of time. Most guests do not object to this; the coin-operated television sets also will pay their way, making the installation attractive to the hotel management.

In the future the hotel television set also may help advertise the facilities of the hotel. Many of our big hotels have night clubs and public dining rooms, all of which can be televised throughout the hotel, thus at a given time guests can see what is going on in the public rooms of the hotel. To be sure when it comes to night clubs located in hotels - which feature high-priced entertainers - the hotel may not wish to televise such shows free, but they may give you a short "peek" once in a while, just as the motion pictures do in advertising their coming attractions. This usually has been good business for the motion picture interests and will probably prove itself to hotels as well.

While we are on the subject of electronics, Dr. Baker also predicted that one of the major increases in the use of electronics would be the elimination of electric meter reading as done at present - by humans. Household electric meters will be read electronically in the future, according to Dr. Baker, and while such applications will be costly, they are feasible, because industry must cut costs and servicing.

In our November, 1951, issue, we predicted that by 1960 the electronics industry would reach a turnover of $10,000,000,000. It now appears that our prediction will probably be found far too conservative.



Posted June 20, 2022