Day 26 - Console Television Back When Televisions Were Furniture - #doodlewash Doodlewash

Back When Televisions Were Furniture

Though televisions, our prompt for today, have become thin devices that hang like a painting on the wall, they were quite different when I was a kid. In my youth, they were large wooden cabinets that filled an entire wall of our little house with far more wood than screen. Picking out a television was no different than selecting a couch or bookcase. It was an object of admiration and the centerpiece of every living room. And the fascination with all of the programs it transmitted kept us glued to it each and every night. Of course, as a kid, I never had control over the remote. This was relegated to one of my parents, most often my dad, and so I ended up watching whatever he chose for the evening. Remotes were an amazing invention that, at the time, sent ultrasonic tones to make the magic happen. The first remote to control a television, though, came from Zenith in the form of the “Flashmatic,” a little green gun-like flashlight that shined a beam on the television. The drawback was that it couldn’t distinguish its own light from any other light sources and had to be aimed precisely in order to work. Modern day remotes have improved in that regard, but the endless buttons still leave much to be desired.

By the way, I used my “Shiny” Da Vinci Trio for today’s post, which you can learn more about here! As for televisions, Philippe and I don’t have cable anymore and only watch programs on Netflix and Hulu. Though we have proper televisions in the house, you’ll more often find us watching things on an iPad. This, to me, is a dream. Although televisions have progressed nicely, the remotes that come with them are usually crazy and confusing. There are entirely too many buttons, many that literally nobody ever finds the opportunity to use. It’s as though having those buttons is supposed to provide us some sort of comfort. The idea that although it’s entirely worthless, it’s indeed there if the off chance you might actually need it. This is quite like the “close door” button in an elevator that doesn’t actually work as intended, but is simply there to complement the “open door” button. An aesthetic choice to fill space that serves no actual purpose at all. This, to me, is the apparent design choice of nearly every modern remote ever created. A strange idea that more is more rather than embracing the tried and true equation of less.

But despite my TV remote woes as a kid and the fact that I never really had the opportunity to attain that power, I loved watching television. It really didn’t matter what the show was as I was enraptured by the experience of enjoying any story at all. True, there were many times when sports were the chosen program and in those times I toddled off to do something more creative. But thankfully, my dad did enjoy other things and would watch a variety of story-filled programs. Our family particularly loved comedies of all sorts. For some reason, they just seemed a bit more true to actual life. And on Saturday mornings, I did manage to have full remote control, since my dad slept in, and I could enjoy all of my favorite cartoons. While I’m certainly appreciative of modern televisions, there’s something precious about these earliest versions. As a kid, televisions were a magic box for me that made it seem like all those characters were actually performing their antics just inside. So, part of me will always cherish those days, many years ago, back when televisions were furniture.

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. (To Learn More About This Da Vinci Trio, click here!Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
 Day 26 - Console Television Back When Televisions Were Furniture - #doodlewash Doodlewash

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32 thoughts on “Back When Televisions Were Furniture

  1. Remote . . . you young’un you. When I was growing up not only was tv furniture you had to get up from where you were seated to press buttons on the tv to turn it on/off and change channels. As a result of all that exercise we had few obesity issues. (there were only 4 channels, it was black & white, and stopped broad-casting at midnight).
    I wish I would be around 50 years from now to watch programs beamed directly into my brain.

  2. Yes, those big box televisions. I remember having to rearrange the furniture to accommodate that monstrosity. And as for cable, the hubbie says we have “Amish” tv. That’s an antenna on the roof. We won’t pay to watch TV. And I agree with your comment on all the buttons on the remotes. I find the same thing on microwaves, ovens,dishwashers, washing machines, etc. Just give me a simple menu!

  3. Lol! I remember when ‘color’ TV meant you bought a colored film and placed it over the B&W TV screen. And when the 4th TV station was added – WOW! Four stations to choose from – how would you ever decide?. In those days, though, it was still Dad who controlled the remote. As in, ‘Sandra, turn that onto channel 6!’

  4. Yes, I definitely remember the wood cabinets. In fact, I’m from the days of even smaller screens surrounded by even more wood! We didn’t have color, much less a remote control. Thanks for taking me back to those simpler times, before I owned electronics that I don’t know how to use.

  5. Yes, this is an old fashioned TV cabinet. When I was a young ‘un, and had to slog through snow ten feet high to get to school, our TV was the size of a refrigerator and the screen the size of an index card, the images on it in color, often very “snowy,” and changing the channels meant getting off the old kiester and turning a button on the cabinet.

    You should try some of those extra buttons on the remote – one turns on the Keurig, another orders pizza, and another walks the dog. Amazing but not nearly as adorable as the TV cabinet table you painted today. In another 10 years, no one will believe this old set is any more possible than my fanciful remote.

  6. Yep, no remote, no color, three channels and the tv repair guy would occasionally have to visit to replace one of those huge glass tubes that made the thing operate. Good memories and a wonderful doodlewash, Charlie!

  7. I read all reply the answer is one.of course same story here. That was a big thing n high status of the family indeed.that time.when movie came my ma made a cup of tea n sit.close the door , dont disturb them.haha how the time flowe.
    Ur tv is awesome. thanks lie.

  8. The Mickie Mouse Club was the show for me! I n college I remember it was a point of pride that I never watched television. Now that I’m old, I don’t care what others think about my viewing habits. Still, we never had cable, and we never turn the tv on in the day time. There are much more interesting things to do than watching tv… Like painting!

  9. The other piece of “furniture” we had was the stereo record player in another wooden console that was twice the length of the tv. In effect, with the stereo, the tv, and then the actual furniture, all the walls had something against them in our small three bedroom home when I was a child. Today, as I am in Spain on holidays, I am enjoying ending my day by watching downloaded movies on my iPad. I agree with you…so much simpler than those lousy remotes (we have three) for our supposedly “smart” tv.

  10. Well when I was a kid remotes had gone the infrared route. And the TV’s were becoming less furniture and more appliance. Now of course we have flat screens that are thin as glass.

    Music of course I shunned Apple’s iTunes because of their DRM policy. Went to Amazon Music instead in fact it’s playing now on my laptop. Funky Little Beat indeed.

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