A historic journey towards the beginnings of the electronic media, specifically the television, displays a great improvement of the media electronics. Its quite amazing how the television, which has today dominated the household in the contemporary world, has had a history quite unlike what we have been experiencing for quite sometime now. Its history dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and it has undergone significant changes to reach the level it has assumed today.
During the mid 20th century, the television sets had screens that were much smaller to the present day sizes of the screens; served a great number of people at a go; their display was all black and white; the channels were really limited in numbers and the playback devises and remote control gadgets were unheard of. This research paper seeks to expound on the state of the electronic media before Ray Bradbury wrote his book ‘Fahrenheit 451’. This book was written as a way in which the writer used to protest against the overtaking of the books and libraries liked by the television.
It is a fiction novel based on the future of the United States depicted as a society in which knowledge through books is not allowed legally and there is someone who has been charged with the role of burning books. State of Electronic media during Ray Bradbury’s publication of Fahrenheit 451 The book Fahrenheit 451, authored by Ray Bradbury, was published in 1953. The book’s theme revolves around the destruction of the books as sources of knowledge with the coming of the electronic media, especially the television as he later explained.
Bradbury envisions a book free America where the books are can no longer be counted on as a source of knowledge as the American population exhibits more and more interest in the television while at the same time having less time for reading books a as a source of information. This he depicts with the role played by the main character of burning books- and the role of the government in killing interest for books as critical thinking through reading is considered illegal (Barnouw 1990p112).
Bradbury had in way envisioned the great impact that the television would eventually have on the viewers and the hold it would eventually have on them that would ensure that they were hooked more to the television than the books which he felt had the capacity to enlighten readers. This he was attributing to the great amount of knowledge that the books harbor and are capable of transmitting to the interested people (AdAge. com 2009). In the year 1950, America was recovering from the effects of the Second World War.
In relation to this, the United States government had lifted a ban on technological freeze during the early months marking the end of the war. This move led to the high rates of television manufacture within the United States- a move that led to the dropping of the high costs of purchasing a television set that had hit the country during the Second World War. This translated to the affordability of the television sets within most of the households also permitted by the rise of family incomes around this time.
The number of households owning a set of television shot from 0. 5% in the year 1946 to 55. % in late 1953. Due to the relatively high costs of the television sets, a family could not afford to buy a set for each of the members therefore each household had to share a single set of television as a family. This is quite different when compared to the contemporary usage where the televisions are almost entirely used individually by members of the household. The sizes of the television sets used prior to the year 1950 up to 1953 were quite unlike the contemporary designs. These sets were quite large but the screens embedded on them were rather small in relation to the size of the sets themselves.
The basic screen size was three inches while some rare more expensive sizes measured 12 inches. Until 1953, the display on the screen was black and white for basically all sets. This also evolved with time with some basic changes effected over a span of time for example; the resolution of the cameras used for receiving and transferring motion pictures was quite poor with the 1928 transmissions displayed as silhouettes while those displayed in the year 1950 – 1953 were very clear. Innovation took another turn with the introduction of the color television.
This happened towards the very end of the year 1953 on the 17th of December 1953. This took place after the Federal Communication Commission approved the custom-made version of an RCA system (Barnouw 1990p56). The United States had devised ways of regulating programming of broadcasts undertaken by channels that were, at the same time, regulated by the government. The Federal Communications Commission was the body charged with regulating programming, demanding public service programming commitments as a prerequisite before the issue of a license.
A number of programs regulated and scheduled by the regulatory body were aired in 1950 and thereafter. Examples of the programs aired include ‘puppet playhouse’ which was dedicated to the children; Mr. Berle was also a popular show that is open for enjoyment by the whole household. Still, ‘I Love Lucy’ was launched in 1951 and was credited as the nation’s first longest running show that ran a span of six months with half hour filming. Other programs include ‘Howdy Doody’, which was another series for the children, ‘the Ed Sullivan Show’ and the ‘captain kangaroo’ shows among others.
The channels available were few in number therefore were easily regulated by the government (AdAge. com 2009). The electric gadgets that are used within the household to control the televisions like the remote controls were not in use yet in the early 1950s. The principle control of the television was manual where the people operated the television sets directly with their own hands. Use of knobs and buttons to flip through of change the channels was the order of the day. Equally, other electronic media gadgets like the playback recorders had not yet hit the American market by the year 1950 (Barnouw 1990p79).
Conclusion The electronic media has undergone through a number of changes as time goes by. The television especially has gone through a number of modifications from the time Ray Bradbury wrote and published the book ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in 1953 to the present day. The nature of hold that the television would have on its viewers was captured by Bradbury in this fiction story where he was protesting the idea of individuals spending hefty amounts of time watching the television rather than reading books that would enlighten them.
At the same time, censoring information found in books was felt as detrimental to the amount of information that would eventually get to the people. Some of the areas in which the television underwent changes include the size of the set and the screen where the screen underwent enlargements in the process gaining proportionality with the set; more devises were used to control the electronic media with the innovation of the remote controls for example; massive productions led to a fall in the cost of acquisition now rendering the sets affordable since most American households can afford a set for each member.
These are some of the changes that have affected the television since 1950s. As technology continues to expand, it is expected that more technological developments will be seen in the televisions.
Subject: Electronic media,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 September 2016
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