TVs have come a long way since the early days. Get started on the next page to see how televisions have evolved from the 1940s to today.
After the end of World War II in the 1940s, radio died out and TV took off. Two of the most popular shows were "Original Amateur Hour and Milton Berle's comedy, "Texaco Star Theater." See what happened in the '50s next.
In the 1950s, "Howdy Doody" was the first and most popular children's show. Other programming included "I Love Lucy," "The Honeymooners," "The Lone Ranger" and "Leave it to Beaver." By the end of '50s, almost 90 percent of U.S. households had a TV. Most were still black and white, though color TVs (along with remote controls) were introduced in this decade. See what the '60s brought to television evolution next.
The second prime time children's show, "The Flintstones," launched in 1960 and the United States saw its first presidential debate televised. "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Three Sons," "Bewitched," "Batman" and "Star Trek" also went on air.
By 1967, most TV broadcasts were in color. Take a look at the '70s next.
This 1970s TV set shows the clunky station dials that some of you might remember. Popular shows that aired this decade include "All in the Family," "Saturday Night Live," "Happy Days," "The Brady Bunch" and "Sesame Street."
The 1970s also revolutionized TV with the introduction of the VCR, which allowed video recording of broadcast television for the first time. Check out a 1980s TV next.
Cable TV spread quickly in the 1980s, putting a shadow on network television while now affordable remote controls changed how people watched TV. This decade was big for soap operas, and "The Cosby Show," "Cheers" and "Family Ties" were popular sitcoms. The long-running "Simpsons" debuted in 1989. Get closer to modern TVs by jumping into the 90s next.
By 1996, there were 1 billion TVs worldwide. The sitcom Seinfeld became number one while Johnny Carson ended 30 years on "The Tonight Show."
TVs came in a variety of styles in the 1990s, but for most of the decade, TVs used cathode-ray tubes (CRT) to "paint" images on the screen.
Then rear-projection CRT TVs allowed TVs to get bigger. They combined a projector and a screen into one box. The projector cast the image on the rear of the screen. At the end of the decade, several new TV technologies were developed, including the technology on the next page.
Plasma TVs first hit the market in 1997. The basic idea of a plasma display is to illuminate tiny, colored fluorescent lights to form an image. Their slim profiles made them very popular.
Rear-projection LCoS's TVs were also available. These TVs direct light through a series of polarizers (a type of light filter used to organize light waves into a single path for reflection) before being magnified and projected onto the screen. Although picture quality was excellent, they were very expensive to buy. Learn more about LCD TVs next.
LCD TVs use liquid crystals in front of a light source to create an image. LCD screens tend to have a better resolution than plasma and are more energy efficient, though while they competed in the '90s market, they didn't become the most sold TV until the next decade, as the technology on the following page took off.
HDTV hit the market in 1998, and has ushered in an era of superior resolution and sound. TVs could now use digital instead of analog signals for better picture quality. Around the same time, TVs got an added technology benefit. See the next page to learn more.
In 1999, the first digital video recorder, or DVR, was released, which allows TV programs to be stored on a hard drive. Head to the 2000s next.
The highest-rated TV shows in the 2000s included "Survivor," "Friends," "CSI" and "American Idol." Companies such as DISH Network and DIRECTV began offering high-definition channels and HDTVs became popular.
The first commercially-available LED-based DLP HDTV was produced in 2006. DLP technology (invented in 1987) is based on an optical semiconductor, called a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD), which uses mirrors made of aluminum to reflect light to make the picture. DLP TV sets are cheaper than flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs.
Plasma TVs also became available in high definition, like Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.'s 150-inch Advanced High-Definition Plasma Display.
HDTVs continued to get bigger through the decade, including Godzillatron, seen here in a game between archrivals Texas and Texas A&M on Nov. 24, 2006. Around the same time, the next television product also made its debut, merging computers and television.
Apple began shipping the Apple TV in spring 2007, billing the product as a way to tie the power of your computer and high-speed Internet connection to the gorgeous display of an HDTV. You can connect iTunes to the Apple TV and watch television programming, movies, YouTube videos and more.
Microsoft's option was the Windows XP Media Center Edition software, which can be used to deliver video, music and photos from a computer to a TV.
Panasonic's Internet televisions featuring Viera Cast were another example of televisions converging with computers.
Even video game systems got in on the action. Video streaming expanded with Netflix, and with an Xbox Live Gold membership, you can log in to Netflix from your Xbox 360 and stream some of your favorite movies and TV shows.
The latest trend in TV technology is 3-D TVs. A standardized connector with three pins plugs in to a special port on a 3-D-ready television or monitor. The other end of the cable plugs into an IR emitter. The emitter sends signals to your active 3-D glasses. To learn more about TV, test your knowledge with the Classic TV Challenge and view our TV Technology Channel.