Weekend Roundtable: Your First TV

I’m made to understand that a big sporting event will take place this weekend, one that often inspires people to run out and buy new televisions in order to experience the action on the largest screen possible. Of course, we home theater junkies should already be prepared to watch this Puppy Bowl in all its high definition glory. Sadly, we didn’t always have things so good. In this week’s Roundtable, we take a look back to our modest origins to remember the TVs we used to own back before we even had a concept of “home theater.”

This topic comes in two parts:

  1. Describe the main TV(s) you grew up with in your childhood home.
  2. Describe the first TV you ever bought with your own money.

Shannon Nutt

I don’t remember what brand our family’s first TV was, but I do remember one feature. It had cabinet doors that rolled shut. It’s very possible that it was similar (or the same) as the model shown in the photos below). My first TV memory isn’t ‘Sesame Street’ or ‘Mr. Rogers’. It’s sitting down with my mom (my dad must have been at work when it happened) and watching Nixon resign. I watched it on this TV.

The first non-HDTV I bought was probably some cheap 20- to 25-inch RCA to have in my first apartment. However, the very first HDTV I purchased was a monster, the Mitsubishi WS-55513. This beast of a set weighed 250 lbs and had a 1080i resolution screen. I had to invest in an over-the-air HD antenna to watch anything in high-def for a couple years, since my cable system didn’t yet provide any HD content. When this thing finally died, it took a couple of football player-types to haul it away. I envy the generation that will never know TVs that weighed more than we did.

Luke Hickman

I have no idea what the make or model of our TV growing up was, but it had a little keypad to the right of the screen. If I remember correctly, the number 7 was very hard to punch. Getting the channel to switch over to KTLA (27) or KCET (47) before rolling over to KNBC (4) was brutal.

The first television that I bought with my own money was a 20″ (maybe a 21″) APEX flatscreen in 2003. Mind you, this was when flatscreens were not necessarily HDTVs. This thing may have technically had a flat screen, but it still had the gigantic, bulky box look of an old tube set. I recall the image looking colorful and sharp for the first year that I had it, but then certain parts of the screen became blurred. The TV may not have been great, but it was better than the cheap DVD player / 5.1 receiver that I purchased with it. That dog crapped out in less than a year!

Junie Ray

My childhood TV was a Zenith color set that was encased in a paneled console circa 1978. It had no remote, just an On/Off button, a Volume button, and two knobs for VHF and UHF channels. If you needed color adjustments, you had to get out the pliers and flip down a little panel to adjust several tiny nubs. We didn’t have cable and we were only allowed half an hour of television a day. That would be considered child abuse today.

After college, I got my first apartment and inherited my first TV from my friend Elizabeth, who had inherited it from her parents. It was a little color console, maybe a 19″ screen, weighed about 200 pounds, no remote, only knobs. This was the mid-’90s, so there was much better technology around, but you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I still didn’t have cable, just a Radio Shack antenna and a lot of tin foil. My father came to visit for a few days to help me with my recovery from knee surgery. After two days of frustration trying to adjust the foil to get a half decent picture, he made me hobble to the bar with him to watch the sports games. That Christmas, I received a very nice new television. Soon after, I got cable.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The first TV I ever owned was a 13″ set my parents had gotten as a wedding present. Even before finding its way into my bedroom, it already bore my signature: a halfway-torn-off Garfield sticker. It was so old that I had to screw in an RF switch box for playing ancient videogames on my TRS-80 Color Computer 2.

I somehow wound up with a 19″ coax-only TV for a while in college, but I can’t remember if I bought that with my own money or not. The first TV I’m certain that I paid for myself was a 27″ RCA set during my senior year at Clemson University, bought right alongside my first DVD player in 1999. Back then, I didn’t even know what a widescreen TV looked like. I’ve bought four other TVs since then, but I do still have that old 27″ collecting dust in my garage.

Mike Attebery

Growing up, my family always had crappy TVs. Usually, we got TVs when a relative died. We started out with the classic big-ass console in a wooden cabinet. When my great grandmother died, we got her set, which I remember because the picture was always much too dark. When my grandfather died, we got his TV too. None of these were any good.

When I moved to Seattle and started dating my now wife, I used to go crazy with the TV she and her roommates had in their living room. The TV so crappy and past its time that someone had removed the back so that anytime the picture turned into one small blob of light, they could tap the tube (how no one died from electrocution, I don’t know), and the picture would blink back, often switching back and forth from black & white to color.

When my wife and I got our own place, a new TV was at the top of my list. Day One, after getting the apartment keys, I headed to Best Buy after work and bought one of those silver 27-inch Philips sets that it seemed like everyone had around 2003. It wouldn’t fit in my little Honda, so I had to take it out of the box in the store parking garage, and strap that monster into the passenger seat, spending the entire trip back to our apartment shifting gears while simultaneously keeping the TV in place with my elbow. Back at the apartment, a fourth floor walk-up, I waited for a break in the rain, hopped out, unbuckled the TV, struggled to get the front door open, and hauled that leaden monster all the way up to our place without stopping. I was afraid any break would make it impossible for me to pick it up again.

That night, we slept on the old Murphy Bed in our new apartment while we waited for our furniture to get there. I went into work the next day and, at some point, got up from my desk and threw my back out. I spent the rest of the day hobbling around and stifling screams of pain. When I asked my wife if the Murphy Bed had messed up her back as well, she reminded me of the TV and pointed out that I was a moron. After all the rotten TVs I’d previously owned, that big-ass Philips was heaven, though.

M. Enois Duarte

I remember growing up with an ugly, brown Zenith console TV. It was the floor model type with the gross wood paneling and a table top. Boasting a 25″ color screen, which was considered pretty large in those days, this monster of a unit featured stereophonic sound, which amounted to a pair of speakers on either side hidden behind hideous thick fabric with gold tinsel. I recall it having RCA inputs and outputs as well, because we also had a humongous satellite dish in the backyard and everything connected to my dad’s Technics stereo system. I also remember sitting really close to the screen while playing with the hilariously useless gold drawer handles that decorated the bottom.

In the late ’80s – I think it was 1989, to be exact – I finally bought my first television set with my own money. Going to school and working part time, I saved enough cash to buy a 19″ Sony Trinitron with a speaker on the right side and buttons running down alongside it. I still remember the red-green-blue logo at the bottom. That was a really great year because I also purchased some Technics components including a CD player and speakers soon after.

Brian Hoss

In a short period (two years, I think), my family bought two TVs that we kept for years. One was a 25″ Sharp with a digital channel selector, and the second was a 27″ Sony Trinitron with detachable stereo speakers and Picture-in-Picture that seemed out of this world by comparison.

I bought a brand new 19″ mono Magnavox from Circuit City as my first new TV, but the set I owned before that was really the first that I ever owned. It was a Zenith (some odd size) that had a power switch on the front and took a minute to turn on and another minute to warm up and stabilize. The shape of the tube cut the corners off of everything, including my much beloved SNES ‘Pacific Theater of Operations II’. The TV was notorious for acting up whenever I had just walked back from Blockbuster with my friends. I ended up having to cut a big hole in the back so as to bypass the crummy antennae mounts after they were no longer usable. I seem to recall that the Zenith had a carrying handle that could never have hoped to hold the weight of the TV. When it quit for the last time, I held out hope that it was it was just being temperamental for a month or two before seeing it off. I hope it’s gone to a better place.

Bryan Kluger

The TV I grew up with was a 19-inch color model. It was of walnut color and the brand was RCA. This was in 1981. It had a turn dial, but it also had a remote, and I remember sitting in the living room with my parents watching numerous movies and TV shows on the few channels we had back then. Hell, I even remember watching ‘Fraggle Rock’ on HBO on this set.

The first television I ever purchased with my own money happened in my second year in college, when I moved from the dorm to an apartment. Well, I paid for half, and my parents paid for the other half. It was a 46-inch rear projection Hitachi from Circuit City. (R.I.P. Circuit City.) It had great speakers and was a matte silver color. This was in 2001 and HD had just become popular. I remember having Dish Network hooked up with the HD package and thought the picture looked incredible.

Josh Zyber

My memories of the living room TV in my childhood home are hazy, but I have much fonder memories of the 13″ black & white set I was allowed to keep in my bedroom. My very own TV! I could watch whatever I wanted, regardless of what my mom wanted to watch! It was amazing! One night in 1983 when my grandmother was babysitting and I was supposed to be in bed early, I secretly snuck up close to the screen and plugged the mono earphone in one ear so that I could watch the ‘V’ miniseries without my grandmother knowing I was still up. Any time I heard her coming down the hallway towards my room, I’d dial the Brightness knob way down so that I could still hear the dialogue but she wouldn’t see the glow beneath my door. It totally worked!

Years later, my mother moved us down to Florida to move in with her deadbeat, drunkard boyfriend. (It’s a long story. I’m still bitter.) He had an old clunker of a Zenith console TV in a huge wooden cabinet. I think he stole it from the house of an elderly neighbor who’d recently passed away. Every hour or so, the picture would start rolling upwards uncontrollably, and the only way to stop it was to pound on the top of the set with my fists. I’m the only one who bothered to do this, as the rolling picture didn’t seem to trouble my mother or the drunk. This was my main TV through all of high school.

After college, the first TV I ever bought with my own money was a monstrous 25″ color set purchased at the now-defunct Lechmere department store in Boston. I remember waiting an unreasonably long time for a sales person to help me. A gaggle of them were standing around bullshitting with each other, totally ignoring all the customers. I literally had to wave my credit card in the air and yell, “I want this one. Can someone please get it for me?” With customer service like that, no wonder the chain went under. The set was so bulky and heavy that we had to unbox it to fit it in the backseat of our car. It remained in our living room through a couple of apartments, even as I built a home theater in the spare bedroom where I did any serious movie or TV viewing.

I finally dumped that piece of crap a few years ago when I couldn’t stand it anymore and needed to purge all the CRT tubes from my home. I surprised Mrs. Z when she came home from a weekend trip to find a decent flatscreen staring her in the face. She had insisted that she wasn’t bothered by the old TV, but I can tell that she likes the new one better.

In the Comments below, tell us your stories about your first TVs.


  1. We had an old Zenith I believe, with the bunny ear antennas. For most of my childhood we upgraded to a Sylvania that looks like the wooden tv on the top of the page.
    The first tv I bought for myself was back in 96 ( I think). It was a 27 inch Philips that I bought for about 400 or 500 bucks with my first ever Best Buy charge card. Along with a sony 3 disc mini desk top stereo for surrounds. I still have the Sony and it works great. The tv still works too, and I sold it about two years ago to a girl I work with for 25 dollars.

  2. Doug Booth

    My parents bought a Muntz TV when my Dad was in the Navy and stationed in San Francisco. When he got out of the USN we moved to Montana where we were the only people in town (Billings Mt.) who had a TV. Reason for that was there were no TV stations! First station (only one)didn’t start broadcasting for 2 years. I used to have my kid friends over and we would turn it on and watch snow static. Funny coincidence, when I became a electronics rep. many years later in California one of my first accounts was Earl Muntz who I blamed my career choice on every time I called on him! First TV I bought with my own money was a original Sony Trinitron with a wired mechanical remote. I eventually followed my passion and became a consumer electronic salesman and then C.E. Rep. First projector was a Kloss Novabeam back in the mid 70’s. Am now on my seventh projector (Sony VPL-100) and preparing to step up to a Sony 4K in couple of months.

    • Josh Zyber

      A TV with nothing to watch on it? That’s a great story! I assume this was in the days before VCRs as well?

      That may even beat my impulsive decision to purchase an obscure device called a Laserfilm player:


      At least TV broadcasting did eventually start in your area. When I bought the Laserfilm player, I had no software to play on it, and no way of ever getting software to play on it. However, it only cost me $30. I’m sure your parents spent a lot more on that TV.

  3. (OK, I know you said “first”, but here’s pretty much my entire TV set history…)

    The first television set my parents had, was a black and white set. I have no idea what size, but it was small enough for two year old me to push it off the bookshelf while trying to climb it.

    The replacement TV was a SABA color TV, probably about 22 inches. I would later get this in my bedroom, when my parents replaced it with a slightly bigger Finlux set (with stereo sound!) in the mid eighties. It had a beautiful pine wood cabinet. Well, at least we liked it at the time 🙂

    The old SABA didn’t last me long, so I got a new old set at a flea market. I’m not sure how long I had this, but probably until about 1991-92. I then bought a 26″ monitor (Philips, I think) from a friend. This was a brilliant screen for me. No tuner, no loudspeakers. Only one RGB and one composite video input. I bought my first AV receiver at the same time.

    In 1999 it was time to get a Widescreen TV, so I got a Panasonic 32″. A heavy beast of a TV. However, it was not as heavy as my biggest HT regret, which I bought a few months later. At an auction, I found another video monitor, this one was built for use as a public display, e.g. at an airport. This was also 32″, and it was also very heavy in itself, but as it was designed to hang from the ceiling, it had a reinforced steel frame that added several kilos to it. I think it weighed about 75 kilos. To make matters worse, it wasn’t actually a video monitor anymore. It had been rebuilt, so it was basically a VGA display with 800×600 resolution. It also had a built in 486 computer with the Scala public display software installed.

    I always kinda liked this public display, as I thought it was very cool and unusual. Unfortunately it was also utterly useless, and I never used it for anything. It just took up space. Space that I didn’t really have. I occationally had to move it, and as mentioned, it was horribly heavy. I finally threw it away in 2004.

    Anyway – the Panasonic widescreen TV was with me for another year, when I replaced it with a cheap Sony 32″ LCD TV (KDL-32U2000) in 2005. This was always meant as a temporary solution. I was just sick of CRTs by then, but I still felt that LCDs and plasmas were too expensive. So I got what I thought was a OK TV, while waiting for the price of “proper” TVs to drop.

    In 2009 I got the TV I have today, a Pioneer Kuro LX-5090H 50″ plasma TV.

  4. The console tv under Shannon Nutt’s story looks like the one I grew up with. It was a crappy B & W set. I still remember tv repairmen coming to the house with a suitcase of tubes.

    The first tv I actually bought myself was a Sharp 27-inch CRT. Back in the 80’s Sharp was a well kept secret-their prices were in the moderate to low category but the quality level was way up there. That tv still works to this day, I gave it to a nephew a couple years ago.

    My 2nd tv around 1992 or so was a GE 35 inch, a pile of shit from day one. When I watched laserdiscs on them, if one spot on the screen stayed bright for too long, the shadow mask would warp and the screen would turn Yellow. I had the extended service plan from Monkey Wards and they replaced 3 picture tubes and more than one circuit board before deciding it was a design flaw. They offered a deep discount on the next set below;

    Toshiba 35 inch crt, a CX35E70, total weight about 230 pounds. It was a top rated set and offered a very flat screen compared to most tube sets. It had a problem since day one and I kept telling the numbnuts at Monkey Wards repair service that it was a power supply problem, at a various point in operating temp, there was horizontal noise in the picture. Two picture tubes later, several circuit boards later, they had an epiphany – maybe it was the power supply. Replaced power supply and worked perfectly. Tv still sits in the bedroom and is watched regularly.

  5. Frankie

    Let’s see…the first TV I remember having was a 19″ RCA that my uncle Dennis stole from a local shithole hotel in Pottstown PA. He actually rolled the thing down main street in a shopping cart to wherever he was taking it. I remember it having some sort of hotel security device on it, and the black plastic cover around the channel dial had to be taped on to stay in place. It never died, but the volume knob was touchy and the volume would go balls out if you turned it, and that’s not good when you’re trying to bang some married milf co-worker you skipped work for and brought back to your parents house at 2am in the morning on a Wednesday while your nosey mother is in the bedroom next door. Had that bad boy until I finally moved out of my parents house. Eventually threw it away. Needless to say, uncle Dennis was in and out of prison before and after he “borrowed” that TV.

  6. Hardcore

    Throughout my childhood, my family had two televisions. One went in my bedroom (I believe this unit had served as the family’s primary TV until I was old enough to have my own room), the other was in the living room.

    My bedroom television was a 20-inch CRT set from Zenith or Quasar (the local electronics shop only carried a few brands)that didn’t have a remote. It was coaxial-only, which wasn’t a problem since I didn’t have cable in my room but I could still connect my NES. The set was of pretty decent quality for the period but the screen was so round that it cut the corners picture off. This didn’t bother me unless I was playing a game with scrolling text dialog.

    The living room set was one of the wooden console TVs with a tabletop that everyone on this thread seems to have owned at some point. This particular set was a 25-inch Zenith unit with a remote and stereo RCA connectors (which we didn’t use until I was in middle school). It was also quite a good TV for the time. No wonky color or vertical hold problems.

    My first TV I purchased myself was a 27-inch RCA TV/VCR combo that went in my first apartment in 2002. It was a pretty average unit; no problems, but nothing to write home about either. It just did the job. The only real issue it has was there were no external inputs of any kind. I guess they figured customers would use the built-in VCR. Didn’t help me hook up a camcorder or DVD player though.

  7. William Henley

    I think I am going to list all the televisions we had growing up, mainly because none lasted very long, and I will use a dashed line to break between that and the televisions I have bought.

    The earliest television I remember I think my parents had since they got married in 74 (I was born in 79), and it was probably a 20 inch that had the seperate VHF and UHF knobs. My dad was an electronics tinkerer (in fact, one of the jobs he had before I was born was a television repairman), and had fitted an audio-out jack on it to hook up to his stereo system, so we were probably some of the very first to have televison sound pumping through a stereo system. From a young age (like 2 or 3), I had a dislike for the sound that came from television speakers.

    That set probably died around 1985 or 1986ish. I was too young to understand economics at the time, but by then, my parents had two children (me and my younger brother) and were expecting my sister. My dad had just recently purchased our first VCR, so it had a tuner, so he hooked it up to his Amtrak computer monitor (okay, I know the name is wrong, just Googled it, but cannot for the life of me remember the brand name – I know it started with an A). He claimed it was because it had higher resolution and a better picture. I couldn’t understand why we went to a smaller television.

    The cabinet this set on was replaced by an old console television. So we had a Commodore monitor sitting on top of a non-working console. I think my dad finally got the console working again, but I remember the picture being way dark. I think it was probably 1989 (when we were in the bigger house, since my sister was born, and my brother was special needs so we couldn’t share a room) that this was replaced with a new television with a remote. I think this was an RCA television, and I think my parents probably had that up until 2007ish, when my dad replaced that with a 32 inch flatscreen (which he still has – its a sad television, as it was a discount screen in 2007). The HDMI ports are bad (will only take a maximum resolution of 480p over the HDMI, so we run component to it), the picture quality is poor even for an LCD of that time, but my dad just does not want to give that thing up.

    My first television I had in my room was a 13 inch (maybe it was a 12 inch – that sounds more right) B&W. My dad had installed a headphone jack on it for me. It had an antiglare screen you could put over it at night. I must have been about six or seven at this time, as it was in the old house. Like Josh, I would turn down the brightness at night so my parents wouldn’t know I was watching television. I am trying to remember what I watched – I had to go to bed at 8, and being six or seven, there couldn’t have been any shows on at that time I watched. I can only imagine that I stayed up on Saturdays and Sundays to watch the movie of the week.

    Anyways, that television set on a tv cart next to my bed (does anyone remember those?). So even though the television was small, it was right next to my face as I lay in bed, so it filled my vision.

    That was replaced with another used television, this was a 12 or 13 inch color display. It had the push buttons, and each button was manually tuned in. This screen was dying, and usually after turning it on, the picture would collapse to a thin line in the middle of the screen. This was usually fixed with a slight pound on the side. However, as time went on, you had to start pounding it more than once, and had to keep banging it harder and harder. I remember cracking the case (at 8 years of age) from pounding too hard on it. Eventually the tube went out all together. I couldn’t understand this at the time, my dad collected vaccume tubes, why couldn’t he replace the tube? 🙂

    I eventually inheareted my dad’s Commodore when he upgraded to a PC, and the old VCR (wouldn’t play tapes anymore, but the tuner still worked, which was used to watch television on the monitor). Shortly thereafter, I got my first stereo (yeah, at 8 and 9 years old, I was begging for my own stereo – complete with turntable and dual cassette decks – my parents were shocked I didn’t want toys for Christmas), and ran the audio output of the VCR into the stereo.

    My parents eventually sold the Commodore and I got a 21 inch stereo television (I think it was an Emmerson). Beautiful television. I had been begging my parents for a stereo television. I then used the headphone jack and a stereo Y cable to run stereo to my stereo system (I was about 10 at this time – once again, my parents were amazed that a kid came up with all of this on his own). When I started working, I also got a stereo VCR.


    So college. Dorm rooms. So I got a tv tuner / capture card around 1998, because I saw digital video editing starting to take off, and wanted to play with it. Playing a lot with online video (my church was the first that I knew of that was streaming video of sermons – in 1998, on dialup! Had to really do some thinking back then – had to plan on what resolution and what framerate you wanted to use – luckily with talking heads, you could drop the framerate down to about 7FPS so you could get sharper images on 28.8 dialup). I had a big dorm room my first couple of years, so the old tube television was fine (think studio apartment size), but I eventually went to a standard dormroom because after I had studied abroad, even though I had sent in my requests from overseas on which dormroom I wanted when I got back, the college misplaced it, and I had to settle for what was left, which was the crappy dorm. So, I had to say goodbye to the tube, and I had my first flatscreen (this was 2001, flatscreen monitors were cool, but they had a low refresh rate), and was using my TV tuner in my PC to watch television on.

    2004, I inheret my grandma’s house as she goes into an assisted care facility. I have a college degree but am having trouble finding work, so I am doing crap jobs and contract temp jobs. My parents give me a $250 Best Buy gift card for Christmas. I know HDTVs are coming out (shoot, my uncle has had one since 2000 – big projection that I had to go out and buy an additional $700 tuner for, then we had to put up an outdoor antenna for him – luckily we had the first HD broadcasts in the nation in my area, so we were good, and HDNet was actually broadcasting over the air at that time with their early test signals, so we had 24 hour HD material, even if it was a 4 hour loop), but they were still expensive, so I bought a 27 inch SD JVC tube store-display model. Got it for about $200, as the store was clearing out the old stuff. This was a great television, and lasted me for about 5 years – I eventually gave it to my friend to put in his son’s room when I replaced it with an HDTV.

    2006. Income tax time. I buy a 32 inch 1080i tube television from Best Buy. Insignia brand. That monster was heavy, but it has a BEAUTIFUL picture – you cannot match the color reproduction or black levels of a tube! Sadly, i had a capacitor blow on it 2 days after the extended warrenty expired. It was a 10 cent capacitor, but it was special for that television, and I could not get a replacement. The Geek Squad wouldn’t even work on it as it was an “old television”. So I bought my first LCD television, a 42 inch Toshiba Regzia. Store Display model, so saved about $500 on it, but it still cost $1200, and I had to finance it. I had started a stable job at that time. Between those two televisions, though, there was about 6 months that the JVC SD tube was back in the living room. At this time I had acquired my first laserdisc player (yes, in 2006). After getting the Toshiba, I bought a PS3 ($699) and started building my Blu-Ray collection, because there was just no way that crappy HD-DVD format ever had a chance (was actually surprised the war went on as long as it did, and I did eventually pick up an HD-DVD player after Toshiba called it quits because I was able to pick up players and movies for dirt cheap).

    Around 2010 or 2011, I won a contest with High Def Digest, and won a 42 inch Phillips 120Hz television (Mike and I exchanged e-mails for months – the contest promotors (ie not HDD) dragged their feet – it was a prize package with a television and several movies – I never did get the movies, but they eventually sent me a television – not the one advertised in the contest – it was one they bought for cheap from WalMart – the television actually had the WalMart receipt in it, but hey, it was still a free 42 inch HDTV). That replaced the tube in the bedroom. Coworkers were saying that because it was newer, it had to be better than my 4 year old Toshiba, but it was no where close.

    In 2012, with income tax, I bought a Vizio 42 inch 3D television (refurbed – I got it for half price – it had one bad HDMI port, but the others worked, and as everything went through my reciever anyways, that was no big deal). So I now had 3 42″ televisions. I didn’t need that many, so used that box to ship the 42 inch Phillips that I won from HDD to my parents (cost me $70 to ship it via FedEx). My parents were shocked, I had never given them something that big (I had bought my dad a surround sound HTiB the year before and a Blu-Ray player the year before that). This went into their bedroom to replace an old tube TV/VCR combo my mom had been using (as I said, my dad is refusing to give up his 32 inch LCD). They still claim its the best television in their house. I felt bad because it was the worst television I owned at that time (not that it was bad, I just could not calibrate the thing to a place where I was happy with it – had issues with brightness levels – when it was bright enough to see the picture, the whites were too hot).

    I moved in with a friend after my grandma died as there was a lean on the house, and I had been layed off. Stayed with him for about 9 months until I landed my current job and found an apartment close to work. The Toshiba had been in his living room as it was better and bigger than his television, and ended up selling it to him (he actually paid me more than he could have bought a new one – tried talking him into less, but he wouldn’t hear of it, and told me it saved him from having to shop, pick one out, and hook it up). That left me with just the Vizio, but I REALLY needed that money as I was having trouble coming up with both deposit, pet deposit, moving company costs, and first month’s rent all at the same time.

    That was November of 2012. Got caught up with bills, and started acquiring more and more Blu-Rays in 2013 (I already had a good selection that I had built from 2006-2012, probably around 350, but I added about 150 in 2013 alone).

    December 30th of last year, we had an apartment fire, and I lost everything. I was insured though.

    My goddaughter gave me her old 27 inch SD tube, and I got my laserdisc player out of the shop (had a cat chew up the connector on it – not mine, a former roommate’s) and picked up about 20 laserdiscs. Then the insurance money came in. You know how much I had tied up in Blu-Rays alone? Nice insurance check, and nice tax return coming in. Anyways, I have been really thrilled with Vizios, so I got a 65 inch M series, which I LOVE (started off looking at the 50s, but it was only a couple of hundred more to go 55, only a couple of hundred more to go 60….. My friend who went with me tried to talk me into the 70 as it was only a couple of hundred more, but that would have ment getting a much larger entertainment center, so I would have had to spend several hundred more on that, so I stopped at 65 inches). It is nice now, because i got the entertainment center, television, reciever, speakers, sub, and Blu-Ray player all at the same time, so I was able to plan all this together, rather than piecing the Home Theater together piece by piece. I was debating on going projector, but I am in an apartment, and have been having issues controling light levels, this one much worse than my old apartment in those terms. And the new living room is tiny, and I don’t think I have enough throw distance to get a decent sized picture. Plus I cannot mount a projector, so all those things led me back to another television.


    And that is my television history.

      • William Henley

        Thanks! It’s been stressful, but I was insured, and loss means bigger tax return, and most of my investments was tied up in physical discs, and most of those I only watched once or twice, so not planning on rebuying stuff. Plus, the contractors have finally gotten into my place and started salvaging stuff (I was not allowed in – structure was unstable) and they said that amazingly, most of my discs were undamaged. Of course, I don’t have to return the money as it also covers the cost of cleaning and restoration (although I will probably do most of that myself).

        So while it has been a stressful month, it looks like I am actually going to end up coming out ahead. Don’t think that means that the fire was a good thing, though, some of my neighbors did loose everything (nothing but ash), and someone lost their life. I was extreamely lucky.

    • Barsoom Bob

      Yeah Frankie, why would you care about another human being’s, and fellow HDD contibutors, plight. That is so un-cool.

      Yes, William, I too am glad you are recovering. I lost all my old email address during my move to Austin so I couldn’t personally inquire after you went dark. Glad you are back.

      • EM

        Take it easy. Frankie would have had to read quite far into the post to learn that there even was a plight aside from logorrhea. (Or so I presume, for I have had time only for a quick skim.)

        • William Henley

          It’s not unusual for me to write long posts, and I know that not everyone reads them. I actually didn’t realize how long that post was until I had actually hit post. I mean, my text entry box was still the same size. 🙂 Trust me, I was the first to say “Whoa!”

      • William Henley

        Thanks Bob. It has been a hectic month, but things are settling back to normal. And I got new Home Theater equipment out of the ordeal.

  8. Paul A

    Wow, some really great stories! Some of you have some fantastic memory because I know I can’t remember model numbers! LOL

    The TV we had growing also looked a lot like Shannon’s, but it was a baller! 25″ Curtis Mathes with a nice rich mahogany finish. Ron Burgundy would have been proud. Now, when I look back on things, I have no idea how we could have afforded that beast. They retailed for 700 bucks when we picked it up in 1978 and we were definitely not rolling in the dough. I have never asked my parents how we actually came to own it, but my theory is that it was some form of kickback that my grandfather received since he was kind of a big deal at GM back then. He eventually was investigated by the Feds and had to “retire” from GM. Of course a month later Chrysler hired him! Gotta love the 80’s!!! One of the things I remember about that TV was the box it came in was monstrous. My brother and I actually built a fort out of it in the basement. Good times there! Surprisingly it didn’t have a remote, but that didn’t matter because me and my brother performed those duties. “Turn it to channel 12! Highway to Heaven is coming on!” Dad loved some weird shows…

    The first TV I bought with my own money was a 21″ JVC in 1991. I was in the Navy then and stationed Norfolk, VA. I bought it at one of those big local electronics retailers before the Circuit City’s and Best Buy took over. Can’t remember the name. Along with the TV, I also bought a Hi-Fi JVC VCR, Onkyo Receiver, Onkyo CD player, Onkyo Dual Tape deck and 2 JBL Loudspeakers. It became my very first home theater system. I still lovingly remember shaking the walls of our apartment with that system while watching movies like T2, Aliens, Die Hard and others. Everybody came to our place to watch the latest release from Blockbuster. This is also the time when I first started to form a movie collection. Ahh, what memories…

      • Paul A

        LOL!! When I was a kid I thought he had weird taste in shows. Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Highway to Heaven…not necessarily weird shows, but not ones this coming of age boy wanted to watch. I wanted Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider and Miami Vice!!

  9. Jak Donark

    First tv my family had was a 13 Panasonic black and white with a yellow case. I remember going to a friend’s place when I was three and seeing Sesame Street for the first time in color. I was like, “Big Bird’s not gray?” Blew my mind! The following year we got a Toshiba 19″. It had 12 buttons for channels 2-13 and if you opened a panel you could switch each channel with three settings: 2-13, 14-25, and UHF. MTV was channel 27 so I never watched music videos until 1990 when we got a VCR. One day I was fiddling on the UHF band and got a classical radio station. It was playing the Raiders march! That was a memorable day. Mono headphone jack on the side, great for early Saturday morning cartoons. The single speaker wasn’t great, and lots of sounds rattled the case. The one that stands out is the bass note in the score of Rotj when Luke first enters Jabba’s palace. Always annoyed me. Got my first views of Star Wars on it in 82 when Superchannel would phase in and out. Only saw 5 minute chunks at a time, but it sure made an impression.

    When I left home in 95 my dad got me a 20″ Sharp. Nice set, had it for over 10 years then sold it. With some funds from my grandmother I bought a Toshiba widescreen 40″ rear projo in 2001. Had it for a few years then sold it when I moved to a smaller apartment and got a 22″ Samsung monitor with component, s video, composite, and dvi inputs. Worked great when I got my first Blu ray and Hd Dvd the following year. However switching plugs between three sources got tiresome, and after getting a job on a road crew making a bit better money I finally splurged and bought my first set with my own money.

    It was a Toshiba 42″ Regza, and 7 years later it’s still a great set. Heavy duty, weighs twice as much as my mom’s 40″ Toshiba. And lots of inputs. My Father in law just got a 55″ Samsung. Three hdmis and one component. How do you hook up a laserdisc player, SVHS VCR, NES, SNES, and N64? My wife says it looks much better than mine, and for some things it does, but he also has the cinemotion or whatever turned on so everything looks like the nightly news. Seriously the other day we were over and I was thinking what’s Ben Stiller doing behind a news desk? Then I realized it was Night at the Museum. If I end up getting a new set with that feature it’ll be permanently turned off. At least when I watch a movie on my tv it looks like a movie, not a Super Bowl crowd shot. I’d like to get a front projector for my next set, but we have to get the basement finished first.

    • William Henley

      Those Toshiba Regzas are AWESOME televisions.

      You mentioned something that sparked a memory – bad shielding on electronic devices which lead you to picking up radio stations. My friend had a Casio keyboard with a metal loop music stand attached which lead to it picking up a local heavy metal station. If you didn’t want the interfearence, you had to remove the music stand.

      However, I do not understand how televisions got bleed over from radio stations. Don’t get me wrong, I had one or two that did it as well, but it is just that the FM range is a very small chunk of the VHF spectrum, and AM, medium wave and long wave do not even cross the VHF and UHF spectrums.


      Weird, but as I said, I had it happen too, I just don’t understand how

    • What does ‘phase in and out’ mean? Is it some sort of TV jargon that I don’t understand? Does it have something to do with ‘set phasers to stun’?

      • EM

        Phase in would mean something like “manifest gradually”, and phase out would be…um…“demanifest gradually”, I guess. These phrasal verbs are not limited to TV contexts, and they can be transitive as well (“cause (something) to phase in/out”, e.g., McDonald’s has been phasing in a healthier menu).

        Phasers were so named so as to sound like lasers but to be different so that the science would be more flexible. I’m not sure whether phase, verb or noun, happened to be uppermost in mind (the noun refers to a state or stage in some sort of sequence, e.g., phases of the moon).

  10. I cannot remember our first TV, I was too young I guess but I remember our First Colour TV. My father bought it to watch the Wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips.

    It was a small 22″ set with four buttons to change channels. They were clunky round things that protruded about an inch proud of the panel, all except the actual selected channel button which was somewhat shorter, most if it being hidden behind the panel.

    Being a Pal set the colours were not too bad as the UK moved from 405 lines to 625 lines in 73.

  11. Mathew Bailey

    First TV I grew up with was a Motorola Quasar works in a drawer TV. It was a combination/vacuum tube/solid state model
    with a separate CRT chassis,Two tubes on the CRT chassis & two more tubes on the main chassis.
    I’m looking at a Stern Cliff Hanger laserdisc arcade game online,& the vertical electronics drawer on the right side of it reminds me of the Quasar works in a drawer TV’s

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