Golden age of analog left its mark on viewers

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It’s time to say good-bye to analog. For many TV viewers, Friday’s switch to digital will mark the end of an era in television tech that stretches back to the so-called Golden Age of television. • Auburn’s Ken Harper said his first brush with the new TV technology came in about 1949. “My parents bought a new black and white TV and my dad put up a 50-foot antenna,” Harper recalled. “We crowded around watching the snowy pictures.” Harper said the biggest development for TV watchers came in the 1960s, when color programs began to sprout up in what had been a black-and-white television world. Programs like “The Lawrence Welk Show” and “Bonanza” were some of the first, he said. But Harper said that what really impressed him were the low-fi images beamed to Earth in beautiful black and white in the summer of 1969 from man’s first walk on the moon. • Martin Maxwell’s analog memories are also in living color. It was 1966 and his family had just purchased a new 27-inch color TV. “The first TV I looked at was a round screen that looked like a pie plate, but this was one of the first Zenith color TVs,” he said. “We watched John Wayne in “The Sons of Katie Elder” and I remember our neighbors sitting on the lawn outside and watching it through our picture window.” • Auburn’s Edith Wenzel, 73, was living in Germany when her family bought its first TV in 1959. She recalled the station there offered just three hours of programming. All of it was in the evening and the block of programs started with a half-hour of commercials. Because of the newness of the experience, viewers – particularly children – really enjoyed the opening commercial segment, she said. Wenzel added that television was still a novelty and a store could put one in a window and draw a crowd outside to watch sports. n TV screens were so small in the 1950s that viewers could buy plastic attachments that magnified the image to see early hits such as the “Perry Como” and “Ed Sullivan” shows, Marty Allegaert said. Allegaert’s most vivid memory of the analog era is of the show she didn’t see. When Elvis Presley appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956, Allegaert said her parents wouldn’t allow her to watch the program. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at