mascot chair and bottle picBalladeer’s Blog’s recurring feature Forgotten Television goes way back this time around with a look at the state of the new broadcasting technology in 1940. Great Britain and the Soviet Union had been making as many, if not more, milestone achievements in tv programming through 1939. However, World War Two brought an end to BBC television broadcasting at 12:35PM on September 1st of that year. The Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey’s Gala Premier was the last item broadcast via television in the U.K. until 1946, when the BBC resumed programming with that very same cartoon.

The United States, of course, did not enter the war until December of 1941, and with Great Britain and the Soviet Union preoccupied with the raging conflict, America took center stage in the future of television broadcasting.

*** 1940 ***

1940 television setJANUARY – The FCC holds hearings on potentially licensing television broadcasting. It will not finalize its actions until April 30th of 1941, but in the meantime stations around the country continue pioneering tv programming.

FEBRUARY 21st – A simulcast of NBC News With Lowell Thomas debuts, televising Thomas’ daily radio news program on Station W2XBS in New York. The tv side of the simulcast would only last until July 30th. 

FEBRUARY 25th – Station W2XBS-TV broadcasts the very first televised ice hockey game. The New York Rangers host the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.

FEBRUARY 28th – Historic Madison Square Garden marks another milestone: the very first basketball game ever televised. The Fordham University Rams host the University of Pittsburgh Panthers.

MARCH 10th – The Rockefeller Center studio of NBC presents the very first television broadcast of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Excerpts from 5 operas are presented.

MARCH 27th – The Esso Television Reporter marked its first broadcast, going out over W2XBS. The show would only last until May 31st.  

MAY 21st – Bell Laboratories transmits a television signal from New York City to Philadelphia and back. It is done via a coaxial cable. Years later the novelty song I’m In Love With A Coaxial Cable would be a hit.

JUNE 24th – JUNE 28th – W2XBS-TV, carrying through on the venture tested on May 21st, uses a coaxial cable to televise 33 hours’ worth of the Republican National Convention from Philadelphia. Wendell Willkie becomes their presidential nominee.

JULY 8th – Boxing From Jamaica Arena debuts on W2XBS. The program would last until May of 1942.  

AUGUST 29th – Peter Carl Goldmark announces his invention of a color television system.

SEPTEMBER 3rd – CBS makes the first color television broadcast with Goldmark’s new system via W2XAB at the Chrysler Building. 



Filed under Forgotten Television, Neglected History

7 responses to “AMERICAN TELEVISION: 1940

  1. I remember 45 years later in 1985 we got the first television in our grandfather’s house and wooden shuttered Telerama, and our lives changed.

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