First Commercial TV Broadcast Goes Live

Currently, sporting events, news and other major events can be seen by millions thanks to live television, but in the early 20th century, this was not the case, as radio dominated live entertainment.   The RCA Corporation played a large role in challenging the dominance of radio and introducing the world to the television.  The spectacle and excitement of live television may not have been what it is today, had it not been for the efforts of the RCA Corporation.

On this day, April 20th, in 1939, the first ever commercial television broadcast went live at the World’s Fair n New York.  The broadcast coincided with the opening of the World’s Fair and was was conducted by RCA’s David Sarnoff. The broadcast was made possible by RCA’s development of the United States’s first television test pattern.  Upon standing in front of the camera for the first ever live television broadcast, Sarnoff said, “now, we add radio sight to sound.” The broadcast was only seen by a few residents of New York, as only a small number had televisions sets.

RCA continued to play a major role in the development of television in the coming years.  NBC, which was owned by RCA, went on to introduce the country to the first regular schedule of television programs.  Following World War II, NBC would become even more successful, introducing programs such as The Tonight Show and Today.