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A Brief History of Television in the '40s and '50s

T.V. Programming in the '40s and '50s

T.V. in the '40s: Development
T.V. in the '50s: Standardizing the Industry
T.V. Programming in the '40s and '50s

Early Programming

       Television programming through the 1940s and 1950s was very basic.  The stations that existed at the time, NBC CBS, ABC, and DuMont all had similar programming which stemmed from existing means of communication available at the time.  These included radio, cinema, and theater. 
       One of the most popular types of shows extracted mainly from radio and theater was the variety show.  From the late '40s up to even today, variety shows provided compilations of short acts and sketches that were relatively easy to put together and provided much entertainment.  One of these shows was the Texaco Star Theater (pictured below).  From the cinema came longer for television movies.  The industry primarily concerned itself with adaptaion until the late '50s.   


        With these early programs, also came early attempts to commercialize the industry.  Most of the shows through these two decades were sponsered much like the great syndicated radio shows.  But these weren't the only commercials present at the time.  There were also blocks of space like we have today sold for advertising.  Ironically, some of these slots were filled by companies trying to sell their newest models of television set to an increasingly interested general public.
       However, the programming wasn't all based on previous forms of entertainment.  As the years went on and the industry became more and more popular, the programming became more customized to fit the new form of mass communication.  One of these new forms of entertainment was the half hour television program.  These included the sitcom and other such pre-recorded shows made possible by the new videotape recording devices.  Perhaps the most recognized of these new half hour shows was I Love Lucy which premiered in 1951 with much acclaim. (pictured below)


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