4 Ways the Humble Television Set Has Changed Over the Past 70 Years


In many households, having a television set is as important as having a sofa to sit on. They provide us with entertainment, news, weather forecasts, and other bits of information we’ve come to depend on. So it’s no wonder that those little rectangular boxes have been popular in our homes since the 1950s.

And even with the introduction of computers, which can pretty much do everything a TV does thanks to the internet, we still love our TVs. Obviously, television sets have evolved throughout the years. And here are four ways they’ve changed.

Television Set Have Gotten Slimmer (and Bigger)

I can remember when television sets were like bulky, heavy pieces of furniture. They weren’t flat as they are today but shaped like a cube. These were the days when you were told not to sit too close to the TV because it could damage your eyes. Although that was never really true, sitting too close to TVs with the old cathode ray tubes could cause eyestrain.

But those days are long gone. Today, we have QLED and OLED screens that let you get as close to the TV as you want without any eye strain. Also long gone are those cubed boxes. TVs are now thin, and some look more like picture frames than electronic devices. Televisions have also gotten much larger in terms of their dimensions. Indeed, some of the larger TVs exceed 80 inches.


Television Sets Can Do More

In the 1960s and 70s, television sets were simply seen as electronic devices that beamed in programming that could be watched. In the 1980s and 90s, television sets were still seen mostly as standalone devices, but ports for VCRs and DVD players began to appear. Today, television sets can provide unlimited entertainment with ports that allow you to connect all sorts of devices and receive all sorts of TV programming.

Television sets have also become more interactive and can even help people organize their lives and households. This is mostly made possible by people’s ability to connect their TVs to the internet. Once connected to the internet, the sky is pretty much the limit when considering the wide range of apps available today.

Television Picture Quality Has Improved

Saying that television picture quality has improved is an understatement. The quality of TVs has gotten vastly better since the first TVs become popular in the U.S. back in the 1950s. Back then, all televisions were only capable of producing a black-and-white picture. And the images themselves could be grainy, poorly defined, or washed out depending on the reception.

Color television sets didn’t become popular until the 1960s, and even then the picture quality wasn’t great and depended on the signal you were able to pick up. Today, television sets have 4k and even 8k ultra-high-definition screens. The types of resolution produced are breathtaking and really can’t be compared to the television sets made years ago.

Televisions Are No Longer a Must-Have

Years ago, if you wanted to watch the news, sports, or view other types of television programming you actually needed a television set. Streaming programming through a laptop, phone, or some other device simply wasn’t an option. Those were the days when if you missed a program you wanted to see you simply couldn’t watch it unless a TV network reran it.

In essence, a device as small as a mobile phone can function as a TV for those who don’t have one or who don’t want one and can even offer highly-specialized content. One of the biggest ways that televisions have changed over the past 70 years is that they’ve become just another means for people to access the information that they want.

In the history of the world, television sets haven’t actually been with us that long. When you think about it, humans have been on earth for thousands of years, and televisions have only been around for the past 100 years or so.

In that time, televisions have gotten slimmer (and bigger), obtained more functionality, improved in terms of picture quality, and been rendered just one of many ways to obtain information. Still, it looks like television sets will be around for the foreseeable future.