• Scottish engineer John Logie Baird invented the first working TV in 1924 and, five years later, the Baird Televisor went on sale.
  • Initially TVs were a luxury item for the wealthy, but thanks to price drops, sales were booming by the end of the 1940s, and by 1989, 60% of Americans had cable.
  • Throughout the last century, TV designs have changed from bulky to sleek, large to small — but not every new set has been a hit.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

From “Who Shot JR?” to The Red Wedding, “I Love Lucy” to “Friends,” TV has offered defining moments of pop culture and modern society. Together, viewers have witnessed tragedies like 9/11 and collective joys like the Moon Landing.

Television sets themselves have changed a lot in the past hundred years. What began as a large box with three channels and grainy images has evolved to high-definition flat screens with multitudes of content. Streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to change the way people absorb media, often placing the power in the palm of a hand. 

Lynn Spigel, a professor at Northwestern University and author of “Make Room for TV” and “TV by Design,” believes there’s a correlation between how we consume technology and the technology itself. 

“Technology doesn’t determine how we consume, but it does offer possible ways of consuming TV,” she told Insider. “Often people who design TV technologies take cues from how people already use TV.”

Keep scrolling to read more about TV’s long, storied history — and to see how the sets themselves have changed through the years.


- Advertisement -