To the best of my recollection it was only aired once and does not appear to be available for purchase in any format, which is a shame.
This documentary was aired on PBS back in the late 80's, in eight, hour-long installments telling the story of broadcast television- from its birth (anyone remember the images of Felix the Cat or the Fred Waring singers and orchestra?) to modern times (perhaps the first incarnations of cable TV- HBO, SHOWTIME, etc.). It included many clips from the infamous news stories- 'breaking' items of the Kennedy and King assassinations; presidential campaign elections; the World, Korean, and Vietnam wars- to entertainment shows: sitcoms, dramatic anthologies like KRAFT TELEVISION THEATRE (showing the Rod Serling classic 'Patterns') and PLAYHOUSE 90 ("introducing" Robert Redford!!), and musical variety shows from Ed Sullivan, Barbra Streisand, and a 60-something Fred Astaire dancing with Barrie Chase. It also gave an in-depth time line of television: origins from Philo Farnsworth, RCA's David Sarnoff and Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin; the 1939 TV address from President Roosevelt, and the wartime 'freeze' on marketing of the new contraption (which would not lift until 1946). It was a stunning documentary, breezily narrated by NBC's Edwin Newman, and probably contains more vintage footage of early television than any other documentary I've seen. Any light to shed on where or how this documentary can be found would be greatly appreciated.
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