Film History
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1872 - 1877
A series of photographs can be viewed by stroboscopic disc.
George Eastman invents flexible photographic film.
Thomas Edison patents motion picture camera.
Edison attempts to record picture photos onto a wax cylinder.
1891 - 1895
Dickson shoots numerous 15 second motion pictures using Edison's kineograph, his motion picture camera.
First public demonstration of motion pictures displayed in France.
Development of the Cathode Ray Tube by Ferdinand Braun.
Use of cathode ray tube to produce television images.
Patent for the iconoscope, the forerunner of the picture tube.
Talking films begin with Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer".
Early 1930s
RCA conducts black and white broadcasting experiments.
First television broadcast made available in London.
Initial proposal for color TV broadcast made by George Valensi.
There were fewer than 7,000 working TV sets in the country and only nine stations on the air; three in New York, two each in Chicago and Los Angeles, and one each in Philadelphia and Schenectady, N.Y.
RCA symbol RCA that same month holds its first public demonstration of a new TV camera offering a sharper image than those then in use.
Near the end of October, Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia holds the first large-scale TV demonstration. More than 25,000 people come over three weeks for a chance to watch NBC programs from New York and local shows sent out by Philco's Philadelphia station.
Kraft Television Theater The Blue Network, part of NBC, officially becomes the ABC network. A 1941 FCC ruling required RCA to divest itself of one of its two networks; NBC Blue was sold in 1943 to Edward Noble for $8 million, and becomes ABC in 1945.
NBC and Gillette stage what's billed as the first "television sports extravaganza" -- the Joe Louis-Billy Conn heavyweight fight at Yankee Stadium -- in June. The fight is a viewing success with an estimated audience of 150,000 watching 5,000 sets. For every TV set tuned into the fight, there are, on average, 30 people watching, many seeing an event on TV for the first time. In October,the Television Broadcasters Association declares "television is ready to proceed on an expanded basis," and that the new industry is "well on the way to becoming one of the most important in the nation."
doody "Howdy Doody," a children's series, premieres live on NBC in December as a one-hour Saturday program. Symbolic of the first generation nurtured on TV, the show remains on the air until 1960.
In May,live theater equivalent to the Broadway stage comes to TV on a regular, commercially sponsored basis with the premiere of "Kraft Television Theatre." In March, FCC postpones final decisions on Color TV but reaffirms a go-ahead on existing standards. NBC debuts "Meet the Press," a kind of made-for-TV news conference. It goes on to become the oldest series on network TV.
The Ed Sullivan Show "The Ed Sullivan Show" (originally "Toast of the Town") makes its debut in June. Sponsored by Lincoln-Mercury, the show becomes one of TV's longest-running and most successful variety series. The show airs on CBS into 1971, spurring the advancement of scores of show business careers.
Advertisers accept the medium: Throughout the year, 933 sponsors buy TV time, a rise of 515% over 1947. By the fall, FCC has issued 108 licensesfor new stations, with hundreds more applications pending across the nation. The earliest cable systemsare born in remote areas of Pennsylvania and Oregon. Known then as Community Antenna Television, its function was simply to bring TV signals into communities where off-air reception was either non-existent or poor because of interfering mountains or distance.
George Burns And Gracie Allen B.F. Goodrichsponsors the new TV series of radio comedy team George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Milton Berle Milton Berle makes his TV debut in September as the master of ceremonies on "The Texaco Star Theater," which runs until 1956. By November, Mr. Berle is so popular the show earns the highest rating yet  -- 86.7% of all TV households.
By January, number of TV stations grows to 98in 58 market areas. A special broadcast in January inaugurates East-Midwest TV linkage. Included in the broadcast is a one-hour sampler with the networks displaying their best: Arthur Godfrey for CBS, Ted Steele for DuPont, Milton Berle and Harry Richman for NBC, and for ABC a mystery show called "Stand By for Crime." The event moves Chicago Tribune to report: "The end of dull sustaining filler on television screens appears to be in sight." FCC adopts the Fairness Doctrine, making broadcasters responsible for seeking out and presenting all sides of an issue when covering controversy. (Earlier in the Communications Act of 1934 broadcasters were required to give "equal air time" to candidates running in elections.) U.S. Dept. of Commerce confirms TV's selling power when it reports in May: "Television's combination of moving pictures, sound and immediacy produces an impact that extends television as an advertising medium into the realm of personal sales solicitation." westinghouse Betty Furness starts pitching refrigerators and appliances in TV spots for Westinghouse, launching a relationship that lasts more than 11 years and makes her one of the first stars created for commercial TV.
Arthur Godfrey In January, Arthur Godfrey and Faye Emerson are named most pleasing personalities in Look's TV awards show on CBS.
National sponsors exit radio for TV at record rates, moving Variety to describe the exodus as "the greatest exhibition of mass hysteria in biz annals."
Alistair Cooke "Omnibus," one of commercial TV's most honored cultural series, debuts. Hosted by Alistair Cooke, the program takes in $5.5 million in advertising revenues during five years on the air, against $8.5 million in costs.
I Love Lucy "I Love Lucy," a half-hour filmed TV sitcom, is born. The show, unlike the live TV productions typical of the time, ranks No. 1 in the nation for four of its first six full seasons. It is sponsored by Philip Morris.
CBS broadcasts the first color program on June 21, but only 25 receivers can accommodate mechanical color. Viewers of 12 million existing sets see only a blank screen. "Hallmark Hall of Fame" series launches in December with "Amahl and the Night Visitors."
National Association of Radio & Television Broadcasters ratifies a new Television Code establishing guidelines for content and addressing the concerns of social critics. Nearly half the code is devoted to advertising. In response to protests about program content, a House subcommittee investigates "offensive" and "immoral" TV programs and touches on wide range of topics -- from beer spots to dramas depicting suicide. Bob Hope takes his comedy from radio to TV when "The Bob Hope Show" debuts in October.
Elsie the Cow Borden's Elsie the Cow beats out actor Van Johnson and U.S. Sen. Robert Taft in recognition polls as one of America's most familiar faces.
NBC's "Today" show, first and longest-running early-morning network show, bows with host Dave Garroway and chimpanzee sidekick J. Fred Muggs. By year's end, the number of TV households grows to 20 million, up 33% from previous year. U.S. advertisers spend a record $288 million on TV time, an increase of 38.8% from 1951.
Color broadcasting officially arrives in the U.S. on Dec. 17, when FCC approves modified version of an RCA system.
The Capn' "Captain Kangaroo" the first network kids show, begins on CBS.
Hamms Bear The Hamm's bear is introduced in a TV spot that initially runs as a sequel to a 1953 Hamm's commercial that featured beavers beating on tom-toms. 
The first color commercial televised in a local show was commissioned in March by Castro Decorators, New York, in a contract with WNBT. It was first telecast on Aug. 6.
Steve Allen NBC launches "The Tonight Show," featuring comedian Steve Allen, on Sept. 27. For nearly four decades -- until CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" enters the scene in 1993 -- the show dominates late night.
In April, groundwork is laid for the Television Advertising Bureau. For the first time, television is the leading medium for national advertising.
Immensely popular daytime radio show "Queen For A Day" shifts to TV in January. Between radio and TV, the show had a run of nearly 20 years, although widely criticized as an exploitation of human misery, wrapped in commercial plugs. At the peak of popularity, NBC increased the show's length from 30 to 45 minutes to gain time to sell at the premium ad rate of $4,000 per minute. Future U.S. President Ronald Reagan becomes host of "General Electric Theater," long-running anthology series on CBS (1953-61) in which many top Hollywood film stars appeared. One of NBC's perennial specials -- "Peter Pan" with Mary Martin and Cyril Richard -- first telecast in March as a live production. It's billed as the first network presentation of a full Broadway production. Videotape later makes it possible to present the show annually for several years. The classic Western series "Gunsmoke" begins its 20-year run on CBS. "The $64,000 Question," sponsored by Revlon, premieres in June on CBS, igniting a U.S. game show craze.
Videotape is introduced by Ampex Corp. at a CBS-TV affiliates' session. Most TV shows at the time are produced by the kinescope process. The 1939 movie "Wizard of Oz"debuts in November on CBS's "Ford Star Jubilee." After more than three decades of exposure, the feature is considered one of the most successful single programs in TV history and the longest continually sponsored theatrical movie on TV.
Jack Paar Variety reports in May that during a typical week, viewers encounter 420 commercials totaling 5 hours, 8 minutes. By August, for the first time, more countries worldwide allow TV advertising than forbid it. Host Jack Paar revives NBC-TV's "Tonight" show beginning on July 29.
In an Octoberreport in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Meyer Naide identifies "television legs," blood clots that result from watching TV too long. CBS's "Ed Sullivan" show is the year's most-watched network program, with a 50.4 average audience rating.
There are 525 cable TV systems serving 450,000 subscribers in the U.S. In February, CBS takes out a two-page ad in TV Guide in which it warns the public: "Free television as we know it cannot survive alongside pay television." Advertising Age reports "videotape seems to be catching on like wildfire." By October, 61 TV stations in the U.S. use tape. By the end of the TV season, there are 22 network quiz shows; 18% of NBC's programming alone consists of quizzes. In August, contestant Herbert Stempel charges "Twenty-One" is rigged, triggering a congressional investigation. In December, Edward R. Murrowwrites in TV Guide that viewers must recognize "television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us." By year's end, ad expendituresin radio and TV cross the $2 billion mark.
The cartoon ad character Mister Magoobecomes the nearsighted spokesman for General Electric bulbs.
bonanza NBC's Sunday night hit "Bonanza" makes its debut. It becomes the highest-rated program of the 1960s and is on the air 14 years.
DuPont Co. begins a two-year sponsorship of the "June Allyson Show," a series of dramatic plays. The first of four "great debates" between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon is broadcast on Sept. 26 across the country, breaking new ground in presidential campaigning.
gunsmoke The most popular showsof the year include "Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train." Audience share figures regularly exceed 50% for many of the most popular entries in prime time.
In search of added profit, ABC stretches the station break between programs to 40 seconds from 30. The other networks follow. FCC Chairman Newton Minowdelivers a May 9 speech in which he denounces U.S. TV as a "vast wasteland," calling for heightened federal regulation of the medium. The same day, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey calls U.S. TV "the greatest single achievement in communication that anybody or any area of the world has ever known ."
The New York chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality persuades Lever Bros. to air a network commercial featuring an African-American, a spot for Wisk detergent that shows a black boy and white boy at play.
MLK On Aug. 28, Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I have a dream" speech as millions watch on TV.
On Nov. 22, President Kennedy is shot by a sniper in downtown Dallas, and TV coverage of the assassination and the funeral grip the nation and the world for four days. Shortly thereafter, Jack Ruby shoots accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on an NBC live broadcast as the latter is being transported by law officials. TV surpasses newspapers as an information source for the first time; a November Roper poll indicates 36% of Americans find TV a more reliable source, compared with the 24% who favor print. Instant replay adds a new dimension to televised sports when it's featured in a telecast of an Army-Navy football game. In 1964, it becomes a standard technique and goes on to become controversial in the NFL.
Daisy Negative political TV advertising is born with the "Daisy" spot for Lyndon Johnson's presidential candidacy, in which a mushroom cloud suggests GOP candidate Barry Goldwater would not hesitate to use nuclear warfare.
Debate over the airing of cigarette commercials heats up after the U.S. Surgeon General issues a report finding smoking a health hazard. FCC issues its first cable regulation: Operators are required to black out programming that comes in from distant markets and duplicates a local market station's own programming, if the local station demands it. There are about 1 million homes wired for cable in the U.S. at the time.
A couple of lads from Liverpool 73 million viewers tune in to the appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" of the British pop group, the Beatles.
CBS is the champion of the "Big 3" networks -- demanding $50,000 from advertisers for a prime-time minute, while ABC brings in $45,000 and NBC brings in $41,000 for the same time. WOR-TV, New York, is the first station to air a program comprised only of commercials. The special features spots selected as Clio award winnersat an earlier American Television Commercials Festival. It runs uninterrupted (without paid messages) until the end of the telecast, when two paid commercials are aired.
NBC Color Peacock Color TV boomsas NBC leads the way and begins to use the phrase "The Full Color Network". By year's end, 96% of NBC's nighttime schedule is broadcast in color, along with all major programs, sports events and specials.
A live-action representation of the comic strip Batman is brought to TV and achieves instant success with its star, Adam West. A New York Times Magazine article reports: "TV is not an art form or a cultural channel; it is an advertising medium ... it seems a bit churlish and unAmerican of people who watch television to complain that their shows are lousy. They are not supposed to be any good. They are supposed to make money."
An opinion survey sponsored by National Association of Broadcasters shows a high level of public dissatisfaction with TV commercials and programs. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed would prefer TV without commercials.
Manufacturers churn out 11.4 million new TV sets, up from the 5.7 million receivers made in 1960. NAB Code Authority increases scrutiny of violence in TV programming after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential candidate. Spending for TV in presidential campaigns increases to $27 million, from $10 million in 1960.
Public Broadcasting Service begins, and in November launches "Sesame Street,"one of the most influential achievements in children's TV. On July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrongtakes mankind's first step on the moon as millions of U.S. viewers watch the historic event live on network TV. The U.S. Supreme Court applies the Fairness Doctrine to cigarettes -- granting anti-smoking forces "equal time" on the air to reply to tobacco commercials. That same year, the FCC issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ban cigarette ads on TV and radio. As Congress debates the issue, tobacco companies and certain members of the Senate hold discussions in which cigarette advertisers, in order to stave off controls on the sale of cigarettes, agree to stop advertising them on the air.
FCC enacts the Financial Interest Syndication Rules(effective 1971), prohibiting the three major networks from owning and controlling the rebroadcast of prime-time shows. The rules ended controversial policies of withholding or delaying network hits from independent stations that could then program them against network news and prime-time fare. In the same action, FCC enacts the Prime Time Access Rule, limiting the networks' use of peak viewing time to three hours per night. The rule effectively shaved off 30 minutes of prime-time programming from the networks each night and returned it to the local stations in the top 50 markets.
I'd like Action for Children's Television petitions the FCC to eliminate all commercials from children's TV programs, citing a variety of shortcomings in terms of quality and regulation of advertising. The petition fueled existing debate within the industry about advertising and children.
to teach Coca-Cola's "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"commercial saturates the radio and broadcast airwaves, becoming an instant hit. Coca-Cola goes on to sell a million records featuring a non-commercial version of the popular jingle.
The transition from 60-seconds to 30-seconds as the standard length for commercials takes hold. The change began in the 1960s with the controversial practice of "piggybacking," or putting messages for two related products from one company into the same one-minute commercial. The networks cast aside concerns about corporate relationships and began selling 30-second units. As of Jan. 2, the 1970 congressional ban on radio and TV cigarette advertisingtakes effect, stripping the broadcast business of about $220 million in advertising.
Archie Bunker The landmark series "All In The Family"debuts on CBS as one of the first sitcoms to contain realistic characters, mature themes and frank dialog. The show becomes the highest-rated TV program of the decade, with a 23.1 average rating. There were 212 episodes done during its nine seasons on the air.
"The Ed Sullivan Show"comes to an end after 23 seasons on CBS. Mr. Sullivan, the master of ceremonies for the show, dies in 1974.
In response to growing concern over TV's effect on children, NAB and the networks agree to reduce commercial time in children's weekend fare from 16 minutes an hour to 12 minutes an hour (effective Jan. 1, 1973). Revisions in the code do away with "tie-ins," the mention of products in a program context, and with the use of program hosts or cartoon characters as the commercial pitchman.
Variety reports in April that by a margin of 5-1, Americans judge TV commercials as "a fair price to pay for being able to view the programs." The Senate Watergate Hearings begin May 17. Together ABC, CBS and NBC offer almost 300 hours of rotated coverage, estimated to have cost a combined total of $10 million in lost ad revenues and air time.
NAB adds additional curbs on ads to children, with a new policy limiting non-program material in weekend children's fare to 10 minutes hourly, effective Jan .1 , 1975.
The Robert McNeil Report (later the McNeil-Lehrer Report) introduces a new news format to public broadcasting with the support of AT&T Co. KNTV, San Jose, Calif., becomes the first U.S. station to run a TV commercial for Trojan condoms. The spot ran despite a NAB code that banned commercials for contraceptives. A study by the Council on Children, Media, and Merchandising reveals that approximately 50% of ads in children's programming from 1965 to 1975 were for food, primarily sugared cereals, cookies, candies, and soft drinks; 30% were for toys. Time Inc. initiates the concept of linking satellite programming to cable systems with the launch of Home Box Office. On Sept. 30, the heavyweight boxing championship bout between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali is broadcast from Manila. Family viewing timeis incorporated into the NAB TV code. It was decided that the time before 9 p.m. was supposed to be devoted to all members of the household. This results in a marked drop in violence on the air in "family time" during the 1975-76 season. In November 1976, a federal court overturns the policy, deeming it a violation of free speech. "Gunsmoke" comes to an end after a 20 year run on CBS. The show finishes among the top 10 programs 13 times.
Ted Turner Ted Turner's WTBS, Atlanta, becomes a "superstation" to viewers in much of the U.S. via cable TV.
More than 75% of TV-equipped homesare able to receive color on one or more sets.
Alex Haley's Roots ABC airs the first episode of its 26-hour miniseries "Roots" Jan. 23. The Jan. 30 installment becomes the third most-watched TV program in history, earning a 51% rating.
Wildmon A Mississippi minister, Rev. Donald Wildmon, and his grass-roots protest group, American Family Association, organize a national "Turn Off TV Week" in February.
Gross TV advertising revenues this year rise to $7.5 billion -- 20% of all U.S. advertising
Viacom's Showtime cable network launched in March. Warner Cable establishes an interactive/videotex system called QUBE Ohio. Viewers were able to participate in public opinion polls by punching buttons their homes. Warner ended the experiment in 1984.
A TV Guide poll in May indicates 44% of Americans are unhappy with what they find on their TV screens and 49% are watching TV less than they did a few years earlier. ESPN ESPN, a total sports network, makes its debut on cable. It becomes the largest and most successful basic cable channel, carried by virtually every cable system, and reaches more than 57 million households.
J.R.Ewing  "Who Shot J.R?" a November episode of CBS' hit TV show "Dallas," reveals the identity of the attacker of J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman) and breaks records by a drawing a 53.3 rating and 76 share
CNN - Ted Turner's Cable News Network is born, lining up TV's two major sponsors, Procter & Gamble Co. and General Foods. In March, Walter Cronkite steps down after 19 years of anchoring the CBS evening news and is replaced by Dan Rather. Nielsen produces its first Cassandra ratings report for syndicated programming. Music TeleVision MTV: Music Television makes its debut in August.
Alberto-Culver Co. experiments with "split 30" commercials. The test is not received warmly by the networks, which accept the commercials at the insistence of the advertiser but seek restrictions on use. Federal Judge Harold Greene outlaws NAB's TV code -- created for industry self-regulation -- in "U.S. vs. NAB." Court held the code violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by artificially increasing cost.
Home Shopping Network Home Shopping Network is launched.
The final episode of "M*A*S*H"draws the largest audience in TV history. More than 125 million homes tuned in. The going rate for a :30 on the 2 1/2-hour finale was $450,000. On Nov. 11, ABC broadcasts "The Day After," a two-hour made-for-TV film about thermonuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union, Because of its controversial nature, the movie appears with few advertisers but demolished the ratings of other TV programs that night.
During the third quarter of the Super Bowl, Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh computer with a 60-second Orwellian epic commercial called "1984," created by Chiat/Day. The spot, which cost $400,000 to produce and $500,000 to broadcast in its single national paid airing, launches a new computer technology, turns the Super Bowl into a major ad event and begins an era of advertising as news.
Michael Jackson Superstar Michael Jackson makes a highly publicized Pepsi-Cola commercial, and during a shoot his hair accidentally catches fire, requiring surgery to his scalp. The campaign, is considered the forerunner of big-budget celebrity ads
With the deregulation of the cable industry, Tele-Communications Inc. aggressively begins buying cable systems nationwide. By the end of the decade, TCI will have spent nearly $3 billion for 150 cable companies.
In March, Capital Cities Communications buys ABC for $3.5 billion -- proving network TV no longer remains an untouchable institution.
In January, the anonymous "Herb" becomes the object of a national, $40 million manhunt by Burger King in what becomes the most elaborate advertising flop of the decade. The effort is dropped after four months. NBC's "The Cosby Show" breaks existing records for a network series by commanding $350,000 to $400,000 for 30 seconds of commercial time. CBS undergoes a management shift in September when its board ousts Thomas H. Wyman, chairman-CEO. Replacing Mr. Wyman as acting chief executive is investor Laurence A. Tisch. The 1985-86 seasonmarks the 60th anniversary of NBC and the first time it ever wins the prime-time ratings race. NBC hikes rates for early buys of 1986-87 season time, but ABC and CBS cut rates for first time. ABC, CBS and NBC have trouble selling commercial time for sports programs for the first time. Rates for the 1986 NFL season drop 15% from 1985.
raisin California Raisin Advisory Board introduces a hit commercial featuring dancing, singing, sneaker-clad raisins via new animation technology called Claymation. It was done by  Claymation creator Will Vinton.
Spanish-language network Telemundo Group is launched by Reliance Capital Group.
In January, San Francisco station KRON-TV becomes the first major market TV station in the U.S. to air a condom commercial. In April, 20th Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch launches Fox Broadcasting Co. Playtex International makes history in May when networks begin airing its commercials showing women wearing bras. In August, five veteran admen die in a tragic rafting accident in Canadian rapids. Among those killed when their raft overturned in the Chilko River was Robert Goldstein, VP-advertising for Procter & Gamble Co., and Richard O'Reilly, who headed the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. A.C. Nielsen Co.'s electronically advanced "people meter" is introduced to replace its 30-year-old diary system.
Wheel of Fortune "Wheel of Fortune," the highest-rated show in syndicated programming, draws an asking price of $95,000 for a 30-second spot, The show generates revenues of $400,000 an episode.
More than 50%of U.S. households are now wired for cable.
Barter syndication revenues total $875 million, up from $50 million in 1980. Widespread use of videocassette recorders zap away at the TV viewing audience. At the start of the year, almost 60% of TV households have a VCR -- up from 4% in 1982.
Pay-per-view becomes a familiar part of cable TV service, reaching about one-fifth of all wired households. The broadcast networks reach an all-time low of 55% of the total TV audience in July. Nissan begins its new age "Rocks and Trees"campaign by Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, grabbing attention by never showing the product -- its luxury Infiniti. Instead, the spots feature nature scenes. BBDO pulls Pepsi commercials featuring pop singer Madonna after just one airing due to controversy over her "Like a Prayer" video. Time Inc. and Warner Communications announce a $14 billion merger. Fox's TV network earns $33 million in profits with just three nights of programming. Its animated sitcom, "The Simpsons" is considered a genuine hit.
The Children's Television Act takes effect limiting the amount of commercialization in children's TV programming (including cable) and requiring operators to carry at least some programming designed to meet children's educational and informational needs.
The broadcast TV networks and cable's CNNprovide extensive coverage of the Persian Gulf War, which begins in January. But advertisers take a backseat; Procter & Gamble Co., Sears, Roebuck & Co., Pizza Hut and major airlines all refuse to air spots during news coverage of the war. NBC, for one, reports losses of $5 million as a result of canceled advertising and the cost of coverage.
Magic Johnson Coca-Cola Co. promises its sponsorship of the 92 Olympics telecasts will be its biggest ever ever. Pepsi runs spots starring basketball great Magic Johnson as a spokesman, before the Olympics start.
In June, the Clio Awards, one of advertising's best-known award shows, turns into a farce when poor financial management and organization forces finalists to rush onto the stage to claim statuettes. In October, the broadcast networks preempt afternoon soap operas and much of their evening and weekend schedules to cover the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation of Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. More than 40 million U.S. households watch the two-day televised hearings; the networks lose an estimated $15 million to $20 million in ad revenue after pulling most commercials in favor of continuous coverage. Courtroom Television Network, owned jointly by Cablevision, NBC, Time Warner and American Lawyer Media, is established, providing 24-hour live and taped coverage of trials in 41 states.
Infomercials become a hot ad medium. National Infomercial Marketing Association estimates infomercials generate sales of $750 million, more than double their revenues of 1988.
There's Johnny Johnny Carson, the king of late-night TV, retires as the longtime host of NBC's "Tonight Show." Jay Leno is named as his replacement.
In August, NBC and cable partner Cablevision fail to meet projected goals for consumer purchase of their unusual Olympic Triplecast pay-per-view alternative for comprehensive Olympic viewing. The venture ends up with losses of more than $100 million.
By the start of year, 98% of U.S. households own at least one TV set, 64% have two or more sets.
It's the late show... After 11 years at NBC, David Letterman announces he's jumping to CBS. His new "Late Show With David Letterman" begins in August and, quickly moving to No. 1 in latenight ratings and bumping "The Tonight Show" from its longtime lead. 
In February, NBC issues a humiliating retraction and apology to General Motors Corp. on "Dateline NBC" for a staged on-camera explosion during a report on alleged safety problems with GM trucks. During the controversy, GM temporarily shifts its ad budget to the network's entertainment and sports programming and threatens to cancel its $160 million-plus budget for NBC.
Cheers The final episode of NBC's 11-year hit sitcom "Cheers" in May attracts 93.1 million viewers, with a 45.5 Nielsen rating.
In a first-of-its-kind arrangement, Visa International signs a $3 million deal to become the official credit card of Atlanta, the host city of the 1996 Summer Olympics. Time Warner announces plans to launch a full-service interactive network in Orlando, Fla. "NYPD Blue" is an instant ratings hit on ABC's new fall prime-time line-up after attracting pre-debut attention for nudity and rough language. The hourlong police drama is the only new series to crack Nielsen Media Research's Top 20 in virtually every major adult demographic group. In October, the deliberately tasteless "Beavis and Butt-head" MTV animated series, the top-rated show on the music network, is attacked for allegedly inspiring a 5-year-old to start a fatal fire. In response, MTV agrees to run the show in a later time spot and the writers agree not to use references to fires in the future. Seattle's Bon Marche department store gives new meaning to subliminal advertsing with a spot for Frango chocolates. The commercial consists of four frames (each costing $945) and lasts less than a second. Running during "Evening Magazine," it cost the retailer $3,780 for airtime. Fox snares broadcast rights to National Football League's NFC Conference from CBS for $1.58 billion over four years.
The Winter Olympics sets ratings records, becoming the most-watched event in TV history with 204 million U.S. viewers, or 83% of the country, watching at least some of CBS's coverage. Ratings are boosted by the controversy surrounding the women's figure skating competition; prior to the Olympics, U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding was involved in an attack on teammate Nancy Kerrigan.
Ed Artxt Speaking before the American Association of Advertising Agencies in May. P&G CEO Ed Artzt warns agency executives they risk losing control over clients and media unless they step up their participation in shaping the future of the new-media landscape.
The world TV premiere of "Gettysburg" on TNT in June lives up to its epic billing by attracting the largest viewership ever for a movie on basic cable: 23 million people watch all or portions of the two-part special. The World Cup audience from   52 televised games reaches up to 33 billion people. Univision, the Spanish-language network, anticipates $24 million in ad revenue. ABC gets a 4.7 rating and 15 share for the 10 games prior to the final.
O.J. Goes to Jail Football legend and actor O.J. Simpson is arrested as the primary suspect in the brutal murders of his former wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The incident throws the media into overdrive, as 95 million viewers watch at least some part of Mr. Simpson's freeway chase in June. 
In September, Blockbuster Entertainment and Viacom complete a $7.6 billion merger only five months after Viacom buys Paramount Communications for $9.5 billion. National Hockey League players delay start of season with strike announcement. Fox Network purchases NHL TV rights in September for $155 million. More than 43 million people tune in to at least some part of the highly touted "Baseball" documentary miniseries on PBS in September, giving it the largest cumulative audience in the network's 25-year history.
Baseball on Strike A Major League Baseball strike derails the Baseball Network, a fledgling joint venture between NBC, ABC and the league. The venture loses $95 million in advertising and nearly $500 million in national and local spending.
Digital satellite dishes that are only 18 inches in diameter hit the market. They become the biggest selling electronic item in history next to the VCR.
mini DV   Mini DV is introduced as a new, higher definition, digital recording  format. Perfect copies can be made from them without loosing any quality.
Sony releases Digital 8 video format and the world prepares for Y2K.
The year of the Digital Disc, aka DVD. DVD's are a hit.
After years of speculation, the DVD finally takes hold and DVD movies are as common as those on VHS tape.
Sony introduces CDCam video format. You can now record directly on a CD from a camcorder.
AOL and Time Warner merge and become the largest company of it's kind in the world.
DVD's becomes a major player in the home entertainment field. Most movie studios now release their movies on DVD, which is starting to catch up with VHS tape sales.
MicroMV  Sony introduces the MicroMV Digital MPEG-2 tape based digital recorders. This system offers high resolution recorders small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It records digitally onto a tiny tape with files small enough to be transferred to a PC within minutes. It also has the ability to record video that can be played directly over the internet. 
First DVD camcorder is released,allowing total digital recording directly to disk in the MPEG2 format. DVD's gain in popularity and pre-recorded DVD's over take video tape rentals in stores. DVD's take up less room, are much higher quality, and contain many features not found on video tapes. They also can hold a lot more information and a single disc can have up to 6 hours of high quality video with multiple sound tracks.
DVD's Out Sells VHS tapes.,Disc sales go through the roof as DVD's surpass VHS as the most common format for home entertainment. The price of DVD's has also fallen as it's popularity increases. Blank DVD's can now be purchased for as little as 25 cents for a 4X disc. Just a year ago, prices were as high as $15.00 for a single 1X disc. Home DVD recorders are now as inexpensive as a good quality VCR. For more than 25 years, VHS dominated the world home entertainment market after winning a challenge from Sony's Betamax in the early 1980s. By next year, some retailers are actually going to stop selling VHS VCR's as the DVD format now dominates the home video market. DVD's also have the advantage of containing "Extra's" that movie studios add to encourage sales of their disc's. 
Another major advance this year is the use of large capacity hard drives to record video. Digital video recorders (VDR's) are available for under $1000.00. Some models combine a hard drive with a DVD burner so you can record 100's of hours of video on the hard drive and then burn what you really want to keep on the internal DVD burner. This is far superior to VHS VCR'.
Flat screen TV's & HDTV are the "In" thing of the year.Almost all televisions sold are now flat LCD and Plasma screens. Some are only a few inches thick. Large screen Plasma and LCD TV's are also well within the reach of the average consumer. A 42" Plasma screen retails for as low as $1400.00 with prices getting lower as the year progresses. Hi Definition TV's, (known as HDTV) are also the big seller for 2005. A 42" Plasma HDTV usually retails for $4500.00 - $7000.00. Some new 42" TV's even sell for as low as $999.00. By 2006 all television stations will switch to a HiDef broadcast.
Flatscreen TV's are larger and less expensive. They are finding their way into more & more homes as prices continue to drop and screen size gets larger. LCD TV's are now outselling plasma screens and projected to be the most popular kind of TVs in the world by 2009.
Blu-Ray DVD's are released in the middle of the year. A single-layer Blu-ray disc, which is roughly the same size as a DVD, can hold up to 27 GB of data --  that's more than two hours of high-definition video or about 13 hours of standard video. A double-layer Blu-ray disc can store up to 54 GB, enough to hold about 4.5 hours of high-definition video or more than 20 hours of standard video. And there are even plans in the works to develop a disc with twice that amount of storage. Blu Ray