It was in the years immediately preceding WWII that the television industry we know today was born. RCA‘s David Sarnoff used his company’s exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair as a showcase for the 1st Presidential speech on television and to introduce RCA’s new line of television receivers – some of which had to be coupled with a radio if you wanted to hear sound. In addition, anybody visiting the Fair could go into the RCA pavilion and step before the cameras themselves.
The excitement about television generated by the 1939 World’s Fair carried the interest in television through WWII when development of the medium took a back seat. By the time the war was over the electronic system of television had clearly proven its greater capacity and a period of intense growth took place. Between 1945 and 1948 the number of commercial (as opposed to experimental) television stations grew from 9 to 48 and the number of cities having commercial service went from 8 to 23. And, sales of television sets increased 500%. By 1960 there were 440 commercial VHF stations, 75 UHF stations, and 85% of U.S. households had a television set.