[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TV is Now Here

September 1st, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Benj's Cedar ChestA few years ago, I brought home a large old cedar chest that had once belonged to my grandmother. It had languished, mostly forgotten, in my parents’ basement since my grandmother’s death in 1992. Upon cracking it open, I was instantly overwhelmed by the stale funk of old paper. My wife, sensitive to allergies, had to leave the room.

Among the greeting cards, family quilts, and my grandfather’s WWII uniform, I found the source of the smell: a large stack of vintage newspapers that my grandmother treasured. Some of the papers were fascinating windows to America’s past — chronicling John Glenn in space, the first landing on the moon, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Others dealt with less meaningful issues to me, such as unusually heavy winter weather or local events of eastern Tennessee.

Seeing an opportunity for Retro Scan of the Week, I combed through the newspapers looking for interesting material that I could share. The example you see below is the oldest VC&G-relevant ad I could find (I found others that I’ll post later). It’s a 1954 advertisement for a Westinghouse television set sold by “Don Cherry Tire Company.”

TV is Here - Westinghouse 1954Chattanooga’s Greatest TV Value

The headline, while amazing to us today, is somewhat self-explanatory: in 1954, television was coming into many American households for the first time. We’re witnessing, in print, the birth of an essential component of the personal computer and video game revolution — the affordable home TV set. Ironically, the small (likely 12-15″) black and white TV you see above sold for about $2,125.64 in 2008 dollars. Remember that the next time you plop down two grand for a new 42″ plasma.

Interestingly, I found a color ad for the same TV seen above on another site. And another here.

[ From The Chattanooga Times – April 12th, 1954 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Tell us about your family TV set as a kid: when did your family get it, how big was it, and did you use it with home computers or video games?

If you use this image on your site, please support “Retro Scan of the Week” by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

9 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TV is Now Here”

  1. Greg Says:

    This is good information. When I get around to moving away from my current SD CRT TV, I’ll be sure to query the high-school kid at whatever Big House Electronics Co. I visit as to whether this new LCD I’m about to buy can guarantee me viewing quality that includes no flopover!

    If it can’t, I’ll depart with all haste for the nearest tire store to find a TV that can.

  2. Kitsunexus Says:


  3. Warallen Says:

    I am 70 years old and can’t remember the first black & white set we had, but when my dad bought our first color one we lived across from an airport, nobody else had a TV they said you could not get a good picture (to much interference), but because we were in between runways, we had no problems.

  4. Layne Says:

    I do find it amazing that a tire store would have sold TV’s. Department stores, sure. Furniture stores, sure. Discount stores (5 and Dimes), possibly. But a tire store?


  5. Dan Mazurowski Says:

    I remember the family TV well. Not sure when we got it, because my Dad actually BUILT it – it was a Heathkit. It was a big console model – well, big for the time. I’d guess it was around 25 inches, maybe 30. I remember standing on top of it when I was about five years old to play with the telephone. I also remember my Dad hooking up a first-gen RCA VCR to it in the late 70’s – man that thing was huge. I also remember playing Pong on it, and our cat constantly running behind the TV to try to figure out where the hell those white bouncing squares were coming from. in 1977 my Dad brought home a Sears Video Arcade (you know, a 2600) which took the Pong machine’s place. I think they gave the Pong to my uncle. Man I loved playing Combat – excuse me, Tank Plus – on that set. Unfortunately, it didn’t live long after that. I’m not sure what broke, but I remember my Dad dragging out his manuals and tools to tinker with that TV set for years after we stopped using it. He was just too proud of it to simply let it fade away. I think it was thrown out after my Dad died and my Mom sold the house. I really don’t know for sure.

  6. Jason L Says:

    Yep, I remember playing 2600 Space Invaders on a huge wooden console Sears television circa 1979. One day, half the picture stopped working. Exactly half! It sure was annoying trying to watch Scooby Doo with only half a screen.

  7. hertz Says:

    The first TV I remember was a large thing on a swivel base, black box, and obviously black and white. That was in the early 60s…a few years later my folks got a color tv…I think it was used…but that was nice.

  8. Jimmy P Says:

    I enjoy the fact the TV is showing a program apparently about people enjoying a TV.

  9. TNLongFellow Says:

    A bit out there but in 1954 in Chattanooga there were not a lot of shopping options. For this ad you can thank really, one guy named Hugh Hannah. He was the sales manager there at the time. He later went on to form Hannah-Adams Inc which was a major appliance store both there and in Knoxville where I live. He died about six years ago.


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