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Posted: December 7, 2011 12:30 a.m.

The evolution of television

My older daughter has hosted my family for Thanksgiving for the last several years, an arrangement which I greatly appreciate. I get to see my children, grandchildren, my sister and her son, and while I contribute, I don’t have to cook the whole meal. This year, when we arrived, my husband discovered my son-in-law had recently bought one of those huge TVs that hang on the wall. My husband settled on the sofa in front of that large TV and stayed there the whole time we were at my daughter’s house except for the time he was at the dining table. 

My sister remarked that he was so enamored of the large television that she was sure he would immediately buy one for himself. I just laughed and didn’t believe her. Boy, was I wrong.

When we returned to Covington, my husband returned with full-blown television envy. The Friday after Thanksgiving we had a new and large TV. Large as in it would not fit in the cabinet which holds the old television. 

That television sat in its box for five days while we debated what to do with the old TV, what to do with the old TV cabinet and how to rearrange furniture to accommodate the new television. He originally just wanted to sit the new TV on top of the cabinet that holds the old TV so he could watch both of them simultaneously. Somehow I think that might be in Jeff Foxworthy’s repertoire of “you might be a red neck if.”

We both had different ideas for accommodating the new television, but we ultimately compromised. After moving several large pieces of furniture around and drilling holes in the floor, the new television now rests on a set of, what I call, barrister bookcases. They are stackable and have glass fronts. They used to hold my husband’s grandfather’s medical books.

I find it somewhat ironic that the latest of technology, well the latest that I own, now sits on a bookcase that has been around long before television was invented and probably before radio was invented.

It seems that the constant evolution of electronics dictates a constant evolution of furniture to house said electronics. That fact made me think of the various televisions that I have viewed. I, like the bookcase, was born before television.

In the beginning, so to speak, televisions were about the size of what we now call a 22-inch television but very deep and very heavy. They had rabbit ears. We sat them on tables, bookcases or even radio consoles and viewed them with wonder. We had to constantly arrange the rabbit ears, even wrapping tin foil around them, to improve reception.

Then they got larger and heavier. Suddenly we viewed television in color, not black and white. Also, television became furniture. They were encased in huge pieces of furniture and called consoles. Televisions now hunkered on the floor and swiveled so you could sit anywhere and still have a good view. We had antennas on the roof and wires from the room to the televisions. The first of many holes in my floor.

However, time, tide and electronics wait for no man. Suddenly televisions had satellites, VCRs, cable boxes and who knows what else. Furniture evolved to house all the paraphernalia the television now needed. We had media centers or television cabinets with doors so you could pretend that your living room or den really was a living room or den, not the television room. All you had to do was shut the doors and make the television and its attendants disappear. 

Now televisions are too large for those cabinets or media centers. If you have a really good imagination and can discover some use for all those old cabinets whose size has made them no longer useful, you would make a lot of women happy, women like me who find it difficult to throw a good piece of furniture away. 

I guess I could use mine as a storage cabinet. 

However, the television fits just perfectly on that bookcase. And I am going to enjoy the irony of my new television sitting on a bookcase just like the original televisions did. 

 

 

Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com. 

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