Tuesday, December 4, 2012

VINTAGE ADS

When Sony launched its portable TV

This Tuesday, I don’t have a review for Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom. Instead, I have a television set you may have overlooked or forgotten about.

“Even people who can't get out love a Sun Set. The black screen
that gives you sharper contrast outside does the same job inside. You get
blacker blacks, whiter whites. And it runs on rechargeable batteries as well
as AC current. So if you ever do get out you can take the Sun Set with you.
Assuming, of course, it's your Sun set — SONY.”
This ad was published in Life magazine, November 24, 1967.
 

Sony launched Japan's first transistor radio in 1955, exactly a decade after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Five years later, in May 1960, Sony came out with the first transistor TV. It was, in fact, the world's first direct-view TV and a dream come true for Masaru Ibuka, Sony founder and President at the time. 

The TV8-301 8-inch portable transistor TV (right) also launched Sony's TV business. 

Making the transition from transistor radios to transistor TVs with both sound and visual was a challenge for Sony which, as is its custom, lost no time in getting around the new device.

"Transistors with enough display power to be useful for TVs were comparably more difficult to create than transistors for radios, but Sony had perfected these special transistors the year before, in 1958, and work on developing a transistor TV was already underway," Sony observed in a short piece in Time Capsule: Revealing Sony Across Time.

When Masaru Ibuka asked a group of people representing US TV manufacturers whether they thought small TVs would sell or not, they said no in one voice. In 1962, Sony launched the TV5-303, which was even smaller than the TV8-301, and proved them wrong. The smaller than the small TV was a big hit in the US.

In 1945, Japan lost the battle of the air raids to the Allies, ten years later it rose from the debris to win the battle of the air waves.

12 comments:

  1. Well, I did not know this - thank you Prashant, it's the sort of thing much too easily forgotten in the LCD / laptop era.

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    1. Sergio, I didn't know about it either. It just popped up while I was going through a few vintage LIFE magazines and thought I'd write about it since I didn't have a film review this week. Sony's transistor radio and TV came long before their Walkman, probably their most famous invention.

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  2. I might have liked a small TV when I was young. No more. Eyes won't process them

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    1. Charles, I don't remember ever seeing a portable television set. It'd have created a stir in my neighbourhood just as VCRs did in the early 1980s. I find even 14-inch TVs taxing on the eyes.

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  3. Got me thinking about my first TVs, both portable, and one of them as small as the sun set. It was already used when we got it and lived for quite a while on a kitchen chair.

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    1. Ron, people living in the West must be familiar with these portable TVs and even owned them, as you did. I don't think many Indians were aware of, or even had, portable TVs back in the 1960s and 1970s. Our first exposure to television, I think, came from the 17-inch or 21-inch black-and-white set that went went wonky more often than it worked.

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  4. What a neat topic. I need a big TV now too. Although not as large as most.

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    1. Thank you, Patti. A couple of years ago, we graduated from a 29-inch box TV to a 32-inch flat-screen LED TV and we still don't watch much television. The really big-screen TVs are quite popular among Indians whose purchasing power has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years.

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  5. This is very interesting. I wonder if they were expensive (relatively) at that time. I don't remember them, but my family was later than others in adopting TV and any innovations like that.

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    1. Tracy, thank you very much. I never thought of the price of these portable TVs though they must have been quite pricey at the time. The black-and-white television set came pretty late into our lives too. These days we don't watch much TV, thanks to the internet (at least in my case)...I wonder which is worse.

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  6. In the 1970s I remember being in awe of people who brought these little portable TVs to the beach in the summer. How did they work I wondered? I was a kid and the science of TV eluded me. My brother explained all. Batteries never entered my mind. Wonder why I entered the arts as a career?

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    1. John, there were lots of things I was overawed by including TVs, cassette players, VCRs, and the Walkman. Nowadays I am overawed by a new set of "toys" like digital cameras, smart phones and smart apps, ereaders, and Wii. I wonder what's coming next.

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