From Cabinet to Wall Hanging

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How have television sets changed?

From Cabinet to Wall Hanging

The earliest commercially available television sets had tiny screens, with a diagonal measurement of just 5 inches. You could buy one from a factory for $150 (a large sum in the 1930s!) or assemble it yourself from a $58 kit.

In the 1950s, as televisions became a standard part of a middle-class family home, women's magazines published articles on how to arrange your furniture to accommodate the new devices. "Console" models were made to resemble furniture, and many included cabinet doors so the screen could be tastefully concealed from view when not in use. A special type of lamp -- the "TV lamp," usually small and often shaped like an animal or quaint object -- was placed on top to help ease eyestrain from looking at the screen. (The lamps are now sought after as collectibles.)

In the 1960s and '70s, television screens got larger, and more and more families could afford color sets. At the same time, transistors made possible the miniature or portable television. This made it possible to have televisions in the garage, the kitchen and even outdoors.

Census data show the average American home had 2.4 TV sets in 2001. The large wooden cabinet in the living room has become a flat screen hung on the wall, while multiple sets allow family members to pursue their individual programming choices.

   

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