The Great Television Race: A History of the American Television Industry, 1925-1941

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Press: University of Alabama Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1982)
Publication Date:1982-1
Author Name:Udelson, Joseph H.


An account of the evolution of American television, this book details the interplay of technology, government policies, entrepreneurship, economic conditions and market forces as well as the genius of individual personalities.

About the Author

Joseph H. 
Udelson is associate professor of history, Tennessee State University.


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Comment List (Total:2)

  •     This was a great book which expanded my knowledge of the T.V. production and industry. I highly recommend it for research purposes.
  •     I have no idea who Joseph Udelson is - his only other published work is a biography of British author Israel Zangwill - or what got him interested in the highly technical and convoluted beginnings of American television. But he managed to unearth a rich mine of obscure and arcane history in this densely written little paperback.His main qualification is obvious: the completeness of a compulsive and tireless scholar, who finds an untouched or neglected story and proceeds to explore it from every possible angle. The Great Television Race is tough reading for any but the most curious TV historian - but that reader will find plenty of information available nowhere else, and hopefully be spurred on to further research and discovery in what is still a largely unexplored sub-specialty in media studies.In his drive for completeness, Udelson inevitably uncovers gems that make an otherwise dry narrative come alive. He quotes, in its entirety, the hourly station identification of the Boston Television Station W1XAV, which encouraged enthusiasts in 1930 to write for free TV literature, or even come and be televised in person!Happily, Udelson also seems unaware of the prevailing wisdom that TV was strictly a laboratory affair before it found its mass audience. This allows him to explore early attempts at program planning, the machinations of the radio industry, and the growing regulatory power of the federal government. The purely technical histories won't tell you that third party TV sets went on sale in New York in 1938, a year before RCA intended the public to look in on its experiments; Udelson does, although perhaps inevitably, there is no follow-up. (RCA, in response, simply went off the air.)If anyone ever gets the idea to write another (and hopefully better) popular history of pre-TV along the lines of Michael Ritchie's Please Stand By, The Great Television Race is an ideal place to begin.

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