My world as defined by television

By John Toth

“I was watching a show on the history of television the other day, and became fascinated by all of the details that goes into actually broadcasting an image from one place to the next without wires.
To me, the whole thing looked overwhelming. How could the human mind come up with this idea to begin with? But then, how could the human mind get a machine to fly?
TV was a special treat back when I was growing up in another country. The programing was limited and pretty boring. The TV set was built in Russia, and it broke down frequently.
Weeks went by as the set was being repaired. We didn’t really mind it all that much, except for the Sunday morning Tom and Jerry cartoons, which lasted about 20 minutes. We waited for that all week.
One morning, my dad sent me to the store down the street to pick up a few things. I think I was 9 years old. It was 20 minutes before the cartoons were supposed to come on. I don’t think I ever ran faster, but I made it back in time for the cartoons.
In the mornings, we watched whatever educational programs (usually math or geography) were showing, just to be able to watch TV. At nights, except for Mondays, there was maybe two hours of programming. We watched it whatever it was on a single channel.
After landing in the U.S., I had to do a little catching up with TV land. And, in a couple of years, we saved up enough money to buy a color set.
Now, I was in heaven. Programming all day long, and mostly in color. Cartoons every morning. What more could I ask for? I became a TV junkie.
All this coming from a box filled with little tubes (later transistors) and one big tube with electricity winding through them.
Television is a 20th-century phenomenon, but the key invention to make it possible was made in 1897 by German scientist Karl Braun, who invented the cathode ray tube oscilloscope. The modern-day tube came along in 1929, and along with these things, someone had to invent the transmitter, receiver and rabbit ears.
Then came along the color set, remote control, the flat screen, high definition, and so on, until we arrive at the present, when I am watching the history of television on my computer through Netflix.
And, I can watch all the shows now right on my laptop that I watched on weekday mornings when I had a stomach ache and didn’t go to school (or was it a headache?) like “Bewitched” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. There. That is a good ending. Took me a while to think of it.