1.23: Transformation of your Television Set

The television set is another familiar part of our natural environment which is currently undergoing a transformation. Whereas the telephone started off black, the television started off black-and-white. It too has gone through superficial changes in style and has steadily increased its penetration - into our homes and into our minds, as more and more sets are bought and more and more people stare at them for more and more hours per day.

Since then, a number of innovations have been steadily transforming television. Cable TV, which initially simply brought regular television to areas which previously could not receive the signal, has gone on to provide other services once the wires were laid down. Satellites have provided delivery systems which further expand the range of the television signal. Direct broadcasting satellites (DBS) can now deliver the signal directly to the home rather than simply to a nearby station. Pay TV has provided the option of "buying" programs not available on regular television. Videocassette recorders and videodiscs provide the option of televiewing on demand. Viewers can decide not only what they want to see but when to see it. They can also decide what they don't want to see by zipping past and zapping out commercials. In summary, those innovations have permitted television to overcome limitations of space and time so that more programs are available to more people in more places at more times.