Zenith assembly line, chicago, c.1950

Analog TV (1927-2009)

Long before constructing 108-inch flat-screen, liquid-crystal display televisions became de rigueur among electronics companies, the picture box was, indeed, just a box. Zenith, a radio pioneer whose name was derived from the call letters of its founders' amateur radio station, 9ZN, began producing the black-and-white sets in 1948. Assembly line workers at its 1950s-era Chicago factory, shown here, constructed three-way combination sets that featured not only television, but also AM/FM radio and phonographs, that were among the first such devices.

Analog, shunted aside by the U.S. government in favor of digital broadcasting, didn't go quietly out into the night. President Barack Obama called for an extension of the Feb. 17 analog blackout date, citing lack of funds for the government-subsidized converter boxes, costing $1.3 billion so far, and concerns that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration would be unable to handle the impending influx of requests for converter box coupons. At press time, 7.8 million households (about 7 percent of American homes with televisions) were not prepared for the DTV conversion, according to Nielsen Media Research, and government officials worried they'd be cut off in an emergency.

Next story loading loading..