Television – It’s Just A Passing Fad

Watching a recent rerun of The King the Graham Kennedy story brought back some wonderful early memories of the birth of television in Australia.

My kids laughed when they saw old black and white pictures of people gathering around a shop front watching demonstration TV’s through the window. But that’s just what we did.

Only the wealthier families could afford a TV set back then. However, in a symbol of a long gone era families in the street with a TV set would invite the less fortunate neighbours (like us) to come and watch television with them one night a week.

Our night was Thursday- Bob Dyer’s Pick a Box, I Love Lucy, 77 Sunset Strip. We’d arrive at 7 o’clock and at 9.30 after  Efrem Zimbalist jnr and Ed “Kooky” Byrnes had done their stuff on Sunset Strip we’d head home.

I couldn’t wait for the next Thursday night to roll around.

Louie the fly’s Mortein , Victa lawnmowers, “Don’t wait to be told. You need Palmolive gold” The ads were as enjoyable as the shows.  We were pretty easily pleased back then.

It was a couple of years later before we got our first TV set, a Rank Arena an unknown brand at the time among the 17 inch HMV’s and Astors.

School days were spent dreaming of getting home by four o’clock in time for Rin Tin Tin and The Cisco Kid and  Cassidy.

Television had begun test transmissions for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

I remember seeing some of the events via this exciting new medium, at my grand parents home.

The winds of media change were positively howling.

The entire Olympics were covered by two Outside Broadcast vans using just six cameras.

One van was based at the MCG for the athletics – the other went from event to event with its three cameras.

As there was no way to transmit the pictures over long distances only the two percent of homes in Melbourne with TV sets were able to see the Games live

Forty four years later the Sydney Olympics were covered by 800 digital cameras beaming their pictures to almost four billion people around the world.

Despite some prophets of dooming forecasting television was just a fad that wouldn’t last those of us out in suburbia knew differently.


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