A Portentous Date in Television History, 10/2

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.


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10 thoughts on “A Portentous Date in Television History, 10/2

  1. Groucho hosted You Bet Your Life.
    Art Linkletter was the host of People Are Funny.

  2. The robot costumes seemed to have been used in a few other films.

    Gene Autry also sang “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, which took a life of its own, becoming an animated fantasy. We all watched it.

  3. I may be one of the few people who has seen The Phantom Empire in its entirely. I do not recommend that anyone else becomes one of those people.

  4. Hmmmm …. I think I may seen most – if not all – of the episodes when as a mere Youthful Army Brat in Seoul the movie theater on base ran serials and such on Saturday morning.

    Look where it got me ….

  5. It must have been the 1965 re-release of the Batman serials that I vaguely remember seeing as a kid, I would have been 10 years old. At the time, I remember thinking it was pretty great, as DC Comics were my favorites.

  6. Robert: Not all of us watched “Rudolf”.
    Zagrobelny: I, and many other NESFA members, saw all of The Phantom Empire as a serial, over the course of several months some time between 1969 and 1974, when one or two episodes were shown at each NESFA meeting.

  7. And Gene Autry didn’t find deros underground, even though he had a sidekick whose last name was Darro.

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