"Practical television systems were invented on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean by two men whose experience and research techniques were totally different.

   John Logie Baird, a Scotsman who lived most of his adult life in England, expended energy, limited by poor health, on unfortunate business schemes before deciding, almost by whim, to try to invent television. The equipment he assembled in "two tiny attic rooms which formed my laboratory" was makeshift and inferior; some was secondhand and some salvaged from junk piles.

   In America, television invention was accomplished by Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, a Russian-born citizen of the United States, who had spent years working in the field of electronics. An electrical engineer and physicist, Zworykin, a trained scientist, conducted his television research in two industrial laboratories that made available to him financial resources, sophisticated scientific equipment and expert technical assistants."

Lynn & Gray Poole

Men Who Pioneered Inventions



   "One early morning in the summer of 1921, when Philo was about to turn fifteen, he once again rose to read and then head out to the fields, again to cultivate potatoes. The birds were chirping, the sun was coming up, and a clear blue sky slowly emerged. The ground was drenched with dew. He climbed into the seat of a single-disk harrow that was pulled by two horses. Philo lapsed into his typical trance, meditating on the problem at hand, brainstorming for an idea.

   He already knew that electron beams could be controlled, manipulated, and redirected by magnets. Why wasn't anybody capturing an image electronically, then using an electromagnet to guide the light through the tube and to project the signals onto the surface of the screen?

   As Philo turned the horses to cultivate another row parallel to the previous one, he gazed back at what he had already done. He saw row after row of furrows. An inspiration struck him like a jolt of electricity to the heart. It hit with so much force that he froze and nearly fell off his seat. This time he managed to keep hold of the reins. He saw television in that field."

Evan I Schwartz

The Last Lone Inventor


   "Later in the ride. Phil began laying out his vision for what television could become. Above all else, he told Pem, television would become the world's greatest teaching tool. Illiteracy would be wiped out. The immediacy of television was the key. As news happened viewers would watch it unfold live; no longer would we have to rely on people interpreting and distorting the news for us. We would be watching sporting events and symphony orchestras. Instead of going to the movies, the movies would come to us. Television would also bring about world peace. If we were able to see people in other countries and learn about our differences, why would there be any misunderstandings? War would be a thing of the past."

Evan I Schwartz

The Last Lone Inventor


"TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it."

New York Times (1939)


"Why should people go out and pay money to see bad films when they can stay home and see bad television for nothing?"

Samuel Goldwyn


"What compels you (Americans) to stare, night after night, at all the glittering hokum that has been deliberately put together for you?"

J.B. Priestly


"TV in America created the most coherent reality distortion field that I've ever seen. People who vote watch TV, and they are hallucinating like a sonofabitch. Basically what we have in this country is government by hallucinating mob."

-John Perry Barlow


"Television should be the last mass communication medium to be naively designed and put into the world without a surgeon-general’s warning!"

Alan Kay


"When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships."

-Andy Warhol


"Most (heavy viewing) kids show lower information, lower reading recognition or readiness to reading and lower reading levels, lower imaginativeness and less complex language usage."

Jerome Singer


"The American mass media have achieved what American political might could not: World domination."

Akbar S. Ahmed


"Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other."

Ann Landers


"If the television craze continues with the present level of programs, we are destined to have a nation of morons."

-Daniel Marsh (President of Boston University.1950)


"Television’s perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don’t have to concentrate. You don’t have to react. You don’t have to remember. You don’t miss your brain because you don’t need it. Your heart and liver and lungs continue to function normally. Apart from that, all is peace and quiet. You are in the man’s nirvana. And if some poor nasty minded person comes along and say you look like a fly on a can of garbage, pay him no mind. He probably hasn’t got the price of a television set."

Raymond Chandler (letter to Editor,Atlantic Monthly

22 Nov. 1950


"Whenever it's on it's like having somebody in my house that I want to get rid of and they won't leave. I hate the sound of it. All that noise and light coming from a piece of furniture."

-John Waters


   "The only place left for our civilization to expand-our only real frontier-is the ether itself: the media. As a result, power today has little to do with how much property a person owns or commands; it is instead determined by how many minutes of prime-time television or pages of news-media attention she can access or occupy. The ever-expanding media has become a  true religion-a place as real and seemingly open as the globe was five hundred years ago. This new space is called the datasphere."

Douglas Rushkoff

Media Virus

  "The kidnapping of American children began before television. Fifty years ago terms like teenage culture of adolescent peer group were not in use, but the teenager as a market segment may have been recognized prior to the 1920s. The first targets were the adolescents. Adolescence itself seems to have been invented by Clark University president and psychologist G. Stanley Hall, with the publication in 1904 of his book, with the wonderful name of Adolescence, Its Psychology and its Relation to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education. Up till then people of this age had not been a population group; a hop, skip and a jump in time and adolescence became a market segment. The now familiar battles over dress codes got underway in the nation's high schools in the early twenties. Rouge, lipstick, eyebrow pencils, high heels were among the consumer items teens were already using. Going into the 1920s educators were reporting in such unlikely places as Indiana that high school students, out till two o'clock in the morning, were "jazzed to death." In 1917 an Ohio high school was telling its parents "that three-fourths of all our low grades and failures are due to the 'social party craze." " Ten years later the same school was saying, "that social functions leading to 'late hours,' frequent theater-going or any other enterprise consuming much of the pupil's time or enlisting his interests are highly detrimental to good schoolwork. The Lynds quote a Muncie teacher already saying in the early 1920s, "One of the bad features of radio is that children stay up late at night and are not fit for school next day."

Nicholas Von Hoffman

Capitalist Fools


"You have debased my child….You have made him a laughingstock of intelligence….a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere."

Dr Lee De Forest

(inventor of the audion tube)


"So why do people keep on watching? The answer, by now, should be perfectly obvious: we love television because television brings us a world in which television does not exist. In fact, deep in their hearts, this is what the spuds crave most: a rich, new, participatory life."

Barbara Ehrenreich

The Worst Years of our Lives


"The aim of television shows is to have as much "good TV" on the show as possible. "Good TV" should not, however, be mistaken for anything analogous to "good book" or "good music" or even "good movie." "Good TV" means either sex or fireworks. On talk TV, "fireworks" refers to people arguing with, preferably shouting at, each other. On other TV shows, it will refer to violence. TV has so much sex and violence because they are the easiest, surest ways to produce "good TV".

Dennis Praeger

Think a second Time


"When television producer William Froug was hired as a Hollywood executive in charge of drama….a CBS executive instructed him ‘your job is to produce shit."

William Boddy

Fifties Television


"The most radical division of humanity, is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort toward perfection."

Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1932)


"I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision, we shall discover a new and unbearable disturbance of the modern peace, or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television-of that I am quite sure…."

E.B. White

"The first Image, a Dollar sign (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 May, 1989)


"Television is the first truly democratic culture-the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what the people want."

Clive Barnes

Television: A medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done."

Ernie Kovacs

TV: A medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time and yet remain lonesome."

T.S. Eliot


A 40 year old American has seen over 1 million commercials


"The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed; It is about the character of the consumers of products."


"Television keeps the masses occupied. What if everyone decided they wanted to make something of their live? Television keeps the competition down and keeps more criminals off the street. What if everyone decided to go to law school or medical school? It would sure make it tough on the rest of us."

Jim Urbanovich


"Did television really change our world? Surely less than radio did, and even less than the t telephone did."

Marvin Minsky (Professor at M.I.T.)


"We love TV because it brings us a world in which TV does not exist."

Barbara Ehrenrich



"….Television, as I have implied earlier, serves us most usefully when presenting junk entertainment; it serves us most ill, when it co-opts serious modes of discourse-news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion-and turns them into entertainment packages. We would be better off if television got worse, not better."

Neil Postman


"Television is the new state religion run by a private ministry of Culture (the three networks), offering a universal curriculum for all people, financed by a form of hidden taxation without representation. You pay when you wash, not when you watch, and whether or not you care to watch."

George Gerbner (Dean of Annenberg School of Communication)


"….After forty-odd years, the evidence is everywhere that television, far from providing a great tool of education, is a tool of stupefaction and disintegration. Industrial education has abandoned the old duty of passing on the cultural and intellectual inheritance in favor of baby-sitting and career preparation."

Wendell Berry

What are people for?


"….With television you need only the attention span of a gnat. It assaults the senses with content which gravitates between violent action and emotional exaggeration. Commercial television in particular teaches people to scorn complexity, be seduced by simplicity and to react viscerally. It cheapens genuine feeling…."

Dr. James R. Fisher Jr.

The Taboo against being your best friend


"Statements about the effect of television violence on children are sometimes made with an air of discovery, but few of them are new."

Wendy Kaminer

Its all the Rage


"TV a clever contraction derived from the words Terrible Vaudeville."

Goodman Ace


It is probable that television drama of high caliber and produced by first rate artists will materially raise the level of dramatic taste of the nation."

David Sarnoff (1939)


"Television has us automatically deplore or ridicule all anger, fear, political commitment, deep belief, keen pleasure, exalted self-esteem, tremendous love; and yet while making all these passions seem unnatural, the medium persistently dwells on their darkest consequences, teasing the housebound spectator with hints of that intensity it has helped kill."

Mark Crispin Miller


"TV is sometimes accused of encouraging fantasies. Its real problem, though, is that it encourages-enforces, almost-a brute realism. It is anti-utopian in the extreme. We’re discouraged from thinking that, except for a few new products, there might be a better way of doing things."

Bill McKibben

The Age of Missing Information


"….Americans at the end of the Twentieth century live in the wealthiest society in the history of humanity, at a time when the economy is booming, when we have more than we’ve ever had before, and yet our children seem to be the most damaged and disturbed generation the country has ever produced."

Randall Sullivan (A boy’s life…Rolling Stone, Oct 1,1998)

"….of all the studies that have been done, just under a thousand have found evidence of  a link between TV violence and real violence, just eighteen have found no link, and twelve of those were funded by the TV industry."

Lt. Col David Grossman (from article: A Boy’s Life

Rolling Stone Oct 1,1998)


"The data linking TV viewing to violent behavior is three times better than the data linking cancer to tobacco."

Lt. Col David Grossman


"What we know-and it’s been proven beyond dispute-is that television is a greater factor in this increased degree of violence than all other factors combined."

Lt. Col David Grossman


"Television is the literature of the ‘illiterate’ the culture of the low-brow, the wealth of the poor, the privilege of the underprivileged, the exclusive club of the excluded masses."

Lee Loevinger


"Television is not the Truth. Television is god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers and football players.. We’re in the boredom killing business."

Paddy Chayevsky )1923-1981)


TV is the very devil. Worse, the very devil waiting for a movie deal. Don’t sit too close, you’ll go blind."

Mark Howell


A JOBLESS Man who died after he became addicted to television appeared to have lost the will to live. Andrew Thomas, an otherwise apparently healthy 27-year-old from Maerdy, South Wales, was made redundant from a supermarket in 1992. When he failed to get another job, he spent ever waking moment of the next four years in front of the TV and he would get dressed only once a week when he went to sign on for his benefits. The day before he died he got out of bed at noon and watched TV for 14 hours. He was found dead in bed the next morning. Within a week of his death, two job offers had arrived in the post. A pathologist told the inquest that the cause of death was "unascertainable". A verdict of death by natural causes was recorded."

Times, D. Telegraph, D. Mail Mirror, 19 April 1997


   "Today, instead of free speech, we have the carefully coordinated use of all of the media and the organized intellectual prowess of the country to create and maintain an official picture of reality which serves as the basis for the System's domination. As long as we believe, for example, that even the largest corporations are "private" enterprises subject to a "free market", or that the legions of the unemployed could find work if only they tried harder, basic change will remain out of reach. It is this false map of reality which must be challenged in order to oppose the System with any hope of success."

Charles A Reich

Opposing the System


See article: The Man Who Counts the Killings The Atlantic Monthly May 1997

By Scott Stossel

George Gerbner, who thirty years ago founded the Cultural Indicators project, which is best known for its estimate that the average American child will have watched 8,000 murders on television by the age of twelve, is so alarmed about the baneful effects of TV that he describes them in terms of "fascism".


"My Father's Family eked out a meager existence in a rural China commune in the 1970s. Isolated from the rest of the world, they felt lucky and were convinced they lived in the greatest country on earth. Now, the same relatives are living there in spotless, heated homes thanks to an economic boom. Yet, they bemoan their privations. What has changed? The appearance of television sets, with endless images of people who have it better..."

Suein L. Hwang

Wall Street Journal Oct 23,2002


"It may....come as a surprise to some of you, but I want you to know that you have my admiration and respect. Yours is a most honorable profession. Anyone who is in the broadcasting business has a tough row to hoe. You earn your bread by using public property. When you work in broadcasting, you volunteer for public service, public pressure and public regulation. You must compete with other attractions and other investments, and the only way you can do it is to prove to us every three years that you should have been in business in the first place....

    Our has been called the jet age, the atomic age, the space age. It is also, I submit, the television age. And just as history will decide whether the leaders of today's world employed the atom to destroy the world or rebuild it for mankind's benefit, so will history decide whether today's broadcasters employed their powerful voice to enrich the people or debase them....

    When television is good, nothing-not the theater, nor the magazines or newspapers-nothing is better.

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you-and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland....

   Gentlemen, your trust accounting with your beneficiaries is overdue."

Newton N. Minow, 1961 (Adlai Stevenson's young law partner took office as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission shortly after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. In May 1961, Minow broke with tradition by telling the assembled membership of the National Association of Broadcasters what they didn't want to hear)


$2 Billion spent on advertising to children in 1998, 20 times more than in 1988

30,000 number of TV commercials seen per year on average by an American child

63.7 number of hours per year children ages 6 to 12 spend reading at home


"The watcher's eyes are likely to swivel forward in a sequence of stately turns as the screen's pixel glows: each quarter-ounce mass of eyeball tugged by six flat muscles, in a glissando slide within the slippery fat lining the orbital cavity. The eye blinks, the widened pupils are in position, and the incoming electro-magnetic waves roar in.

   Ripping through the thin layer of the cornea, they decelerate slightly, with their outermost edges forming a nearly flat plane as they travel inward, carrying the as-yet-undetected signal from the screen deep into the waiting human.

   The waves continue through the liquid of the aqueous humor and on to the gaping hole of the pupil. The human may have squinted to avoid the glare, but human reflexes work at the rate of slow thousandths of a second are no match for these racing intruders. The pupils is crossed without obstruction.

    The stiff lens just below focuses the incoming waves even more, sending them into the inland sea of the jellylike vitreous humor deeper down in the eye. A very few of the incoming electric waves explode against the organic molecules in their way, but most simply whirl through those soft biological barriers and continue straight down, piercing the innermost wrapping of the eyeball, till they6 reach the end-point of their journey: the fragile, stalklike projection from the living brain known as the retina. And deep inside there, in the dark, barely slowed from their original 670 million mph, the waves splatter into the ancient, moist blood vessels and cell membranes, and something unexpected happens.

   An electric current switches on."

David Bodanis

Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity



Book: "Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television by Michael Ritchie

Book: "Not So Prime Time: Chasing the Trivial on American Television" by Howard Rosenberg

Book: "The Plug-in Drug"

Book: The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on Our Children" by James P. Steyer

Book: Tube: The Invention of Television:" by David E. & Marshall J. Fisher

Book: "Masterpiece Theatre: A Celebration of 25 Years of Outstanding Television" by Terrence O' Flaherty

Book: "The Sound Bite Society: Television and the American Mind" by Jeffrey Scheuer

© 2001



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