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February 28, 2012

Old Pictures of People Watching TV

These interesting vintage photos show how people watched TV in the past.

Picketing workers watch TV in a tent outside the gates of a U.S. Steel plant in Gary, Indiana, during a strike in 1959

A boy watches TV in an appliance store window in 1948

An adopted Korean war orphan, Kang Koo Ri, watches television in his new home in Los Angeles in 1956

Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, watch the 1960 GOP convention in Chicago from their hotel suite

A performing chimpanzee named Zippy watches TV in 1955

Die-hard New York Giants fans watch a football game on a motel TV, out of the range of the New York-area TV blackout during home games in December 1962

Men gather to watch TV through a store window in Pennsylvania in 1948

A group of swimmers at an indoor pool watch the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Jacob Malik, filibustering in the UN Security Council in 1950

Six-year-old girls use a "Winky Dink" drawing kit on their home TV screen as they watch the kids' program.

The Kim Sisters — a Korean-born singing trio who had some success in the U.S. in the 1960s — watch television in Chicago in 1960

A traveling businessman watches TV in a hotel room in 1958

Milwaukee fans watch the 1957 World Series, when their Braves beat the Yankees in seven, behind three complete-game victories by the gutsy Lew Burdette

Actress Diahann Carroll and journalist David Frost watch themselves on separate talk shows. Carroll and Frost were engaged for a while, but never married

Watching a Western on TV in 1950

Grade school kids in Minneapolis watch a video "classroom lesson" on TV while the city's public schools are on strike in 1951

A railroad worker's family watches TV in a trailer at a camp for Southern Pacific employees in Utah in 1957

Tenant farmer Thomas B. Knox and his family watch Ed Sullivan and ventriloquist Rickie Layne on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958

A rapt audience in a Chicago bar watches the 1952 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees. (The Yankees won)

Astronaut Scott Carpenter's wife, Rene, and son, Marc, watch his 1962 orbital flight on TV. Carpenter's was NASA's second manned orbital flight, after John Glenn's, and lasted nearly five hours

An awe-struck baseball fan is seized with utter delight as he watches the Braves win their first and only World Series while based in Milwaukee in 1957

A crowd watches John F. Kennedy address the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962

Eventual VP candidate Lyndon Johnson watches TV during the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles

Different CATV (Community Antenna Television) stations available to subscribers in Elmira, New York, in 1966

Writer Russell Finch enjoys a smoke, a bath and a TV show in 1948

(Photos: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


  1. For the life of me, the 1950 swimmers photo looks like a flat screen TV. I'm trying to make out the actual shape of the TV, but it keeps looking like a flat screen to me. Help?

  2. My best guess is that it is a projection emitting from the carpet and mirrored covered ductwork above and to the left of the swimmer who is scratching his back. It is also possibly a magnifying lens for a standard television set.
    Projection TV's with flat screens were around in the late 1940's, they cost around $2,500 in 1947. They were very large and bulky pieces of furniture that sat on the floor.
    While a quick search finds many magnifying lenses that were bulbous, and water or oil filled, for standard TVs when the screen size of 12" was the norm, it is plausible that a crafty tinkerer or engineer could have sourced a large, flat magnifier like what is seen in the photo. Or even more remotely, is the chance someone re-engineered an projection TV to be mounted from the ceiling.
    The most plausible explanation is the image from a standard tv was projected with the use of mirrors and prisms, onto the flat screen. Not sure how bright it would be, but it is possible. Also, I was able to find a much larger source image and it seems the quality of the projection(?) is not a clear as it seems and certainly not as clear as the images shown on other television sets in the other photos. I'm no expert and am just making my best guess.




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