October 2 is a date that shows up regularly in the history of television.
The first working television system was successfully tested on October 2, 1925 by British inventor John Logie Baird. Many people helped develop television’s technology — Baird’s contribution was being the first to produce a live, moving, greyscale television image from reflected light, the head of a ventriloquist’s dummy nicknamed “Stooky Bill.” What the viewer saw in the lab that day was a 30-line vertically scanned image, refreshed at the rate of five pictures per second.
After black-and-white TV became a mature technology, October 2 continued to be a pretty important date – it’s when Americans first saw these shows:
1955: Alfred Hitchcock Presents made its television debut.
1959: The Twilight Zone, with host Rod Serling, premiered on U.S. television.
October 2 is also of interest to fans because it is the birthdate of —
- Groucho Marx (1890), who at one time had the top-rated television show You Bet Your Life and hosted Ray Bradbury as a contestant;
- Bud Abbott (1895), partner of Lou Costello, both of whom reached outer space in a movie comedy;
- Avery Brooks (1948), commander of Deep Space Nine;
- Jack Finney (1911), author of Time and Again;
- Vernor Vinge (1944), author of several Hugo winning novels;
- Persis Khambatta (1948), an actress in the first Star Trek movie;
- Sting (1951), singer and actor, cast as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in the original film production of Dune.
Lastly, October 2 is also the date cowboy singer Gene Autry died in 1998, whose legacy to sf was the 1935 serial Phantom Empire.