By Victoria Hart
I can’t think of an invention in the last 100 years that has had a greater impact on American culture than the invention of the television. If you have been alive for even half of this era, you will enjoy the Early Television Museum in Hilliard, Ohio.
It is the only museum in the world dedicated to the technology of the beloved TV. Engineers and techno-geeks will be in hog heaven, as founder Steve McVoy believes he has almost every picture tube, television console, TV camera and other accessories ever built. If you have something he doesn’t have, he would love to have your donation.
Even if the technology doesn’t interest you, you will probably see the first television console your family ever owned, enjoy a clip from the Red Skelton Show on the monitor it was originally seen on, and still ooh and aah at the clip from The Wizard of Oz in full color, shown on the first style of television capable of the presentation.
The road to success was a long one for the today’s TV. Many engineers and home tinkerers experimented with television technology, mostly in the United States and Europe. It was 1886 when the first patent was given for electronic transmission of a signal, but the first television picture wasn’t perfected until 1926. By 1928, thirty television stations opened across the U.S. They were all out of business by 1933. The price of a television was more than the price of a car, and American households weren’t buying.
The 1939 World’s Fair reintroduced the television. In 1947, 200,000 U.S. households owned a set, and in 1953, 18 million households had them. There was no looking back. The rest is history.
THE MUSEUM FOUNDER
Steve McVoy worked in a TV repair shop as a teenager. In retirement, he decided to collect television receivers. As he pursued his hobby, he met collectors around the United Stated. Most were pursuing this hobby in their basements and attics, where it was difficult to share with others. As his collection grew and he ran out of space, he decided to open a museum. The 4200 square foot museum in central Ohio boasts over 150 TV sets from the 1920’s to 1960.
THE MUSEUM TODAY
The museum is open to the public, but is also a place for collectors to meet. An annual convention, including an auction, allows collectors to buy and sell, donate to the museum, and meet other collectors. Movie production companies have also discovered the museum as a source for televisions to use on movie sets based in previous eras. Those interested in connecting with the museum can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
The Early Television museum is located at 5396 Franklin Street in Hilliard, Ohio. It is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. or on weekdays by appointment. Admission is free. A suggested donation of $5 per adult and $2 for children over six is appreciated. Check the website at www.earlytelevision.org for information about the collection, dates of events, and other information.