Scraps: Be the First One on Your Block
At first $299.95 would seem like a hefty price tag for a television in 1953. And I suppose it was. Additionally, when you adjust for inflation it turns out that price is the rough equivalent of $2600 today. It’s a lot, to be sure, but it’s not outrageous.
After all, people pay more than that for their flat-screens every day. Of course, the picture on today’s models is somewhat larger than what we see featured in the newspaper scrap above, not to mention a lot clearer. Oh, and you probably won’t be needing any rabbit ears on that new plasma you just lugged out of Best Buy.
And so to believe that in 1953 only the well-heeled could afford a television would be a mistake. While it’s true that only five years earlier, in 1948, only about half a percent of American households had a TV, this number had, by 1953, exploded to over 55%.
Let’s say you’re doing pretty well for yourself in Eisenhower’s America. After all, most people were. So you drive your new Studebaker down to Towne Television, (which, incidentally was in Norwalk, Connecticut) and select your TV from the many types, styles and finishes shown in the advertisement. You pluck down your $299.95, or perhaps take advantage of their “budget terms,” and just like that you have a brand new television set. And one with “Rotomatic Tuning” no less! So then, what are you going to watch?
Classics, that’s what! Many of the programs that aired in 1953 remain familiar to us today, and several of them are still on the air, including Meet the Press, Candid Camera and The Today Show. Other shows from that year that are gone but not forgotten, as least not by me, are Howdy Doody, The Ed Sullivan Show, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Jack Benny Show, Dragnet, I Love Lucy, American Bandstand, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Truth or Consequences, Adventures of Superman and Dragnet. Imagine, gathering with your family in the living room each night to watch these great shows, and so many more, all for only $2.31 a week.