Channel 1: TV's Humble Start 65 Years Ago Today

It's hard to imagine in today's media-filled world that some people can still remember when there was no television.

TV got going in earnest 65 years ago today, when the first scheduled commercial television program was broadcast by the National Broadcasting Company from the Empire State Building in New York City.

The July 1, 1941 broadcast, considered the first commercial effort, was on Channel 1.

Two months earlier, the Federal Communications Commission had granted commercial television licenses to the first 10 stations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Noncommercial TV broadcasts had been going on for several years.

It would only be a few months later, however, when American involvement in World War II interrupted the the development of television for half a decade. Once it got going, however, there was no stopping the growth.

By 1946, there were 30 TV stations on the air. Ten years later, that number had risen to almost 500.

Now, there are 1,349 commercial television stations operating across the country, the Census Bureau reports.

When the World Trade Center was built, most New York City TV stations moved their antennas there. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, however, most are again broadcasting from the Empire State Building.

Live Science Staff
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