Philco began selling radios in 1928 after originally being a storage battery manufacturer. Their first television, the Predicta, was introduced in 1957. That was more than a decade after Philco Corporation's James Carmine wrote this article discussing how the American buying public (aka consumers) might embrace the concept of TVs in their homes. Many people at the time had no interest in television both due to the expected cost and the relatively poor performance of existing examples*. If you have ever seen pictures of early TVs, they typically had very small displays and poor picture quality (scan lines, low contrast, picture distortion). As with almost all forms of consumer electronics, production and sales of new television sets was put off during World War II so that precious components and materials would be available for the war effort. Once the war ended in 1945, all industries were unleashed and a flood of surplus items, from electronics to mechanics to clothing, hit the distribution markets providing virtually limitless access to designers and resale distributors at prices far below retail. Magazines in the late 1940s were chock full of full-page advertisings hacking government surplus stock.
* Do a search on RF Cafe for 'television' to see some of the articles I have posted.
Television Industry Prepares for Postwar
By James H. Carmine
Vice Pres., Merchandising, Philco Corp.
The radio industry has invested approximately $25,000,000 in research and development to prepare television for the postwar public.
Philco Television Station, WPTZ, Philadelphia. Shown from left to right are the ultra-high-frequency relay receiving antenna; the New York sound receiving antenna; and the main WPTZ picture and sound transmitting antenna.
Probably never before has the product of a great new industry been so completely planned and so highly developed before it was offered to the public as has television. The best evidence that the public thinks well of television is the universal response that comes from those who have a chance to see it. As soon as television receivers can be made and sold, the public most likely will eagerly buy them in tremendous quantities.
A recent consumer survey revealed that 86% of the people would like to have a television receiver in their homes. Few, if any, postwar wants are more general.
Because it is a highly technical scientific instrument, a television receiver, to operate properly, must be installed by skilled personnel and serviced by those who are especially trained in this work. Here again television will start off with a great advantage over automobiles, radios, and all our modern household appliances in that a large body of experienced personnel, who have had the benefit of Army and Navy radio and high-frequency training, will be ready to handle installation and service as soon as the war is over. It is estimated that the number of these experienced servicemen, who can be given the latest television information very quickly, is close to 20,000. Their availability and desire to get into television will give a tremendous stimulus to the video art.
Over and above its postwar employment opportunities, television will make great contributions to the public welfare in the fields of education and entertainment. By combining sight with sound, television is the ideal medium for the transmittal of ideas and intelligence. It is the next best thing to talking with a teacher face-to-face.
Station WPTZ picks up a football game at Franklin Field. Philadelphia. Philco has been televising these games for the past five consecutive years.
Properly used, television can do much to make the people of the United States better informed and better educated than ever before. In the entertainment field, it opens whole new vistas which courageous pioneers are now spending time and money to explore and develop in anticipation of the day when television stations will cover the whole country and a tremendous audience will exist.
Present television broadcasting would be within the reach of about 25,000,000 persons if receivers were available. If all the stations for which permits have been requested are constructed, television coverage would expand to 70,000,000 people - more than half the population of the country. The New York-Philadelphia relay link sets a pattern whereby the stations in different cities can be tied together to begin a national hookup and make the outstanding shows and news events of the country available to the television audience.
As many people already know, television is now becoming international, and construction of a transmitter in Mexico City is being considered.
In popularizing television and giving it the initial impetus it needs to get underway, the most important thing is to let people see it for themselves. Television itself is many times more powerful than any words that can be said about it. Even today, only an infinitesimal number of people in the whole United States have seen television. What the industry need, to do, as quickly as possible, is to give demonstrations all over the United States. If this is done, such questions as demand, price, production, and markets will almost solve themselves. The public response will surprise everyone in its enthusiasm and spontaneity.
Posted October 15, 2014