(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


    The material provided on this page is a service of Victor Swanson and The Hologlobe Press.  The material may be used freely by a person, if the person does not use the material for commercial purposes.  The material may be used by persons employed in the media, such as staffers of radio stations, but persons employed in the media must announce that the material has been taken from the Web site of The Hologlobe Press, the main Internet address to which is www.hologlobepress.com.  Of course, the material is provided for fun.

- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 37 - - -

    To open this edition of T.H.A.T., I take you back to April 10, 2007, the day on which T.H.A.T. #36 was published.  On that day, in the evening, I watched an episode of the series entitled N.C.I.S., which features such performers as Cote de Pablo, Mark Harmon, Lauren Holly, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, and Michael Weatherly, and the episode dealt with murders associated with a book that one of the main characters was writing.  The episode left me wondering.  I regularly use typewriters, and, in fact, I have and use in particular three Underwood Touch Master 5 (or Underwood TM5) typewriters, which were probably made in the 1950s or 1960s (they are tough machines that have a glossy gray paint covering).  [Incidentally, if you know someone about to throw such a machine away, let me know about the machine so that I can get it and use in my television-history research.]  In the past, I have had used Selectric II and Selectric Correcting II typewriters, both of which were put in the marketplace by IBM in either the 1960s or 1970s.  If you forget about the fact that Underwood TM5s are "manual" machines and "Selectric" machines that I have mentioned are "electric" machines, there is a big difference between the Underwood TM5s and the Selectrics, and the difference is, in essence, the Underwood TM5s use cloth ribbons (which are on reels and have ink) and the Selectric machines have non-cloth ribbons (plastic-like ribbons with a black material on one side, which gets put to paper by key heads when a person types), and the non-cloth ribbons are one-time-use ribbons or, in essence, can only be run through a machine once.  In the episode of N.C.I.S. that I saw, the typewriter was a "manual" type machine.  I have never run across a "manual," from Remington models to Royal models, that did not have a cloth-type ribbon, which can run back and forth through a machine many times and which cannot be looked at later to see what was typed out with them.  The non-cloth ribbons like those used in the Selectrics can be carefully looked at and can allow a person to easily determine what was typed out on a page of paper days, months, and years later.  I do not believe the typewriter used in the episode of N.C.I.S. used a non-cloth ribbon, which means, Gibbs and the gang could not have determined what information was typed out on the page of paper and solve the crime.  If a manual machine that uses non-cloth ribbon exists, the storytellers should have made it very clear what type of manual machine it was, and I say that, even if it were a unique machine, which probably has not been manufactured in great numbers or for several decades, how likely is it that ribbons for the machine are available today.  What is nice about manual machines that use cloth-type ribbons is a person can in some way get ribbons for them, and if the person has a typewriter of a particular type that uses ribbons (reels with ribbon) that manufacturers no longer make specific ribbons for, the person can buy a cloth-type ribbon (reels with ribbon) for another type of typewriter, and wind the new ribbon on to the reels for the typewriter that the person has (as long as the height of the ribbon, such as a half-inch high, meets the requirements of the typewriter).  In the end, I say that, to me, something just did not "compute" with the episode of N.C.I.S. that was shown on April 10, 2007.  (Sorry!  I still use typewriters, and I say that computers cannot do everything that a person might want to do in relation to writing.)

    Back in the 1940s and 1950s, typewriters were regularly used in the home and at businesses, such as at newspapers (newspaper writers, such as columnists, would not take up using in earnest computers (in this case, main-frame computers with dummy terminals) till the 1970s, and, for example, Herschell Hart who covered radio (such as through "Air Gossip" columns, which mostly focused on the radio business) and later "TV Gossip" columns for The Detroit News in the 1940s and 1950s, had no computer to use.  In the past several months, I have looked at many of the columns written by Herschell Hart so that I could gain knowledge about Detroit-area television history.  My doing the research led to my seeing a lot of advertisements in editions of The Detroit News, and in this edition of T.H.A.T., I am sharing with you information from a few of the advertisements that I saw, and, maybe, I will convince you to buy a number of products.

    The first advertisement comes from The Detroit News--the edition published for Monday, March 3, 1947 (and the advertisement is on page 6).  Ernst Kern Company, which is a store located along Woodward Avenue near Gratiot Avenue in Detroit, has televisions for purchase.  (Remember: On March 3, 1947, WWDT-TV was the only television station doing any broadcasting at all in the Detroit area, and the television station only had a transmitter with a power of 500 watts, which was not much.)  The advertisement has two main units for purchase.  There is an RCA-Victor television table model for sale for $375.00 now, and to buy the model, you also have to pay $2.60 in federal tax, and there is an installation charge of $55.00.  The other RCA-Victor television sets for purchase cost only $250.00, and then there is the federal tax to pay, which is $1.80, and there is a $45.00 installation charge.

    An advertisement in the edition of the newspaper for Sunday, January 4, 1948 (part one, page 10) is urging people to buy a Philco brand television set from a Philco dealer in the area.  One model of Philco in particular is being pushed, and the model is the Philco 2500.  This model is a projection set with a screen that is twenty inches by fifteen inches, and, in fact, the screen is being pushed as being as big as a current newspaper page.  The cost of the set might be intimiating--the cost is $795.00--but the set does have the "Micro-Lens" projection system invented by Philco.  Of course, there is federal tax to pay, which is $1.41, and the installation charge is an extra fee that you will have to deal with.

    The edition of the newspaper for Sunday, October 10, 1948 (part one, page 6), has a set that you might be able to afford.   The television set is an RCA-Victor brand television set, and the model number is 730TVI.   To buy the set, which costs $559.00, you pay twenty percent down, and then you have fifteen months to pay off the rest of the cost, and the total cost includes an installation fee.  One place to get this set is The Good Housekeeping Shop, which is located at 1250 Library and is next to Annex Furs (in Detroit), and if you wish, you can instead go to one of the neighborhood stores, such as the store at Harper near Chalmers or the store at Woodward Avenue at Victor.  Oh, yes, the telephone number is WOodward 2-9850 (really, WO 2-9850).

    People's Outfitting Company bought an advertisement in The Detroit News for Tuesday, November 1, 1949 (page 11), and the advertisement is promoting the new sets for "1950."  People's Outfitting Company has a store at 150 Michigan Avenue, which is in Detroit, and has a store at 14225 West Warren, which is in Dearborn.  Here is what you can see at one of the stores--a Capehart televisioin set that costs only $309.00.  It has a "Polatron" picture tube, which will give you, in essence, a twelve-inches-and-a-half screen.  There is a built-in antenna.  The people at People's Outfitting Company let you make a small down payment and give you many months to pay.  If you head to the Detroit store, you go to the fifth floor, and if you want to call People's Outfitting Company, you dial WOodward 5-6666.

    A well-known brand of television is being promoted in an advertisment in the newspaper for Monday, December 19, 1949 (page 5), and the advertisment is from Hudson's, a big-name store.  In 1949, it is easy to walk around the streets of downtown Detroit, even in the late evening, and, certainly, no person should worry about driving downtown to Hudson's and doing shopping at Hudson's--particularly at the "Music Store" on the 13th Floor.  There, you will find television sets from Du Mont.  The "Bradford" is on display, and it has a 19-inch picture, and accompanying the television set is an AM-FM radio and a phonograph, which has a 45 RPM changer.  If you hurry, you can get this grand set for $735.95.  Keep in mind: Installation is extra, but "extended payments" are available.

    Now, if you do not like the look of an RCA-Victor television set or a Philco television set or a Carehart television set or a Du Mont television set, I urge you to look at the advertisement in The Detroit News for Wednesday, November 2, 1949, because the advertisement has information about three television sets from Westinghouse.  The Westinghouse 217 is the best of the group of sets.  This console-type teleivison set has a twelve-inch-and-a-half picture, a three-speed record player, an AM-FM radio, and two ten-inch speakers.  The cost of the Westinghouse 217 is $550.00.  If you wish to get about the same set as the Westhinghouse 217 but you wish to spend a little less money, then you should consider buying the Westinghouse 207, which is similar with the Westinghouse 217--the Westinghouse 207 has only a 10-inch picture.  In addition, you might consider buying the Westinghouse 216, which has a 16-inch picture and a fold-away screen.  The cost for the Westinghouse 216 is $499.95.  To see the line of Westinghouse television sets, see your nearest Westinghouse dealer.

    If you buy one of the television sets promoted in the advertisements given you, you will be one of the first persons in the Detroit area to own a television set, but you will not be one the very first persons of the Detroit area to own a television set.  I know who some of the very first persons to own a television set in the Detroit area were.  In late October 1946, there was a Post War Products Exposition at Convention Hall in Detroit, and during the event, four persons in the Detroit area won television sets.  As noted in the The Detroit News on Monday, October 28, 1946 ("Four Television Sets Awarded as Prizes."  The Detroit News, 28 October 1946, p. 2), the winners were Eli F. Alexander (living at 297 Glendale in Highland Park), Tillie Lippman (living at 65 Davison Avenue East in Highland Park), Rosalyn Snitman (living at 2447 Fullerton Avenue in Detroit), and Jack Baker (living at 4306 Hamilton Avenue in Detroit).

    Whatever you get, enjoy what you can!

    In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I posed only one question to you for which you were to find the answer.  The question was about a special that WWJ-TV, Channel 4, which has been known as WDIV-TV since July 1978, aired in1968 and which was about the Detroit Police Academy, and, specifically, the question was: What was the date on which Detroit Police Academy was shown?  I report now that it was shown on Sunday, September 1, 1968, at 3:00 p.m.

    I can now return to a recurring theme--covers on TV Guide magazine.  Grey's Anatomy has once again received the featured spot on a cover of TV Guide; in particular, Justin Chambers, who plays Alex on Grey's Anatomy, which gets two runs on ABC-TV every week, was the featured subject on the cover of the edition of TV Guide for April 16-22, 2007.  Since the new form of TV Guide appeared in October 2005, Grey's Anatomy has had the featured spot nine times (and that is a record for the amount of time involved).  (By the way, you might want to see T.H.A.T. #32 for more on this subject, and T.H.A.T. #32 can be reaced by hitting this link: T.H.A.T. #32.)

    Incidentally, around the time that I published T.H.A.T. #36, I did repair work on one of my Underwood TM 5 machines.  A metal piece associated with the shift-lock system was worn so that  the piece would not keep the keys set for uppercase use.  To repair the piece, I used one of my  oxyaceteline welding units (one with small tanks) and a very thin piece of steel rod to add metal to the part and used several different metal files to shape the piece (an end of the piece of sorts) to the shape that I wanted.  Although the machine has a lot of  life in it, it still cannot be used, of course, to make files that can be stored at the Web site of The Hologlobe Press.

Stay well!


P.S.: Two cartoons characters have been seen by television viewers in Detroit since 1947 (though on an on-and-off basis) and are seen weekly today, and I ask you now: Who are those two characters?

copyright c. 2007
Date published: May 10, 2007

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