Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Television's First Star: Broken and Abused!

As early as the 1920's, RCA engineers in New York were trying to develop a workable television broadcast - in 1926 they beamed this blurry picture of a rotating ceramic 'Felix the Cat' statue to the far reaches of Kansas.

The dozen or so primitive two-inch, 60 lines per screen receiving sets between those two points picked up the moving image with the same enthusiasm that you probably felt when you found a really cool website back in the mid-1990s.

Felix didn't reign as television's biggest (and only) star for long - as the months wore on he fell off his rotating pedestal one too many times and was replaced by a paper-mache Mickey Mouse.

As you can see in the promotional film below broadcasters had the technology to bring TV to the masses by the 1940s but war shortages made a television rollout impossible, no parts to make the sets. It wasn't until the prosperous nifty fifties that America - especially the kids at first - fully embraced this new technology.

- Scott Sherwood writes: "Of course, you didn't tell the real reason that Felix was replaced by the Mickey Mouse statue, and who can blame you? We've all heard the sordid stories of Felix and his drinking; the arguments with the RCA engineers; his inability to remain on the rotating platform. These are the stuff of tabloids, and the press of the 1920's had a field day with Felix's problems at the RCA test studios. Hopefully, though, a new generation will come to love and respect Felix's work at this point in his career. It was some of his finest work."