When TVs Were Stylin'

Image via JoeCrazy.com
One thing I admire about the mid-century modern movement (say that 10 times fast) is that it didn't stop at just furniture, but spilled over into electronics and appliances as well. TV sets made from the late 40s through the 80s have so much character. They were quite often works of art and meant to compliment a room. By contrast, today's flat-screen and 3D TVs may be slick, high-tech, and give us a splendid picture, but they all look the same to me. TV screens have also gotten bigger through the decades in keeping with our increasingly materialistic society, and that means less room for uniqueness. A lot of TV sets from the 50s and 60s doubled as an entertainment console that housed a stereo and storage space; many of today's TVs hang on the wall, out of the way. 

So here's a splattering of ads featuring TV sets that most of us grew up with, when they used to have style. Even the smaller, portable ones looked cool. Long live their marriage of form and function, if only in our memories. (All ads from VintageAdBrowser.com unless otherwise noted.)

Talk about multi-tasking! Never knew there was a three-way TV...but I'm guessing it never caught on. 

Via brycehudson on Flickr


  1. I could look at these retro-tvs all day, how I miss 'em. The first color tv show I saw was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when my dad bought one of those big floor model Zeniths for the family for Christmas in '67--I felt like I was at the movies!

    My mom got me a 13" color portable for my first place in 1982, it was funky orange and black and I miss it still. I'd happily trade in the 37" flat panel I have now though, for one of those 1950s models :)

  2. I remember them well. First show I saw was 'Super Circus." I'd love to have you go back to your grandparents' era when the radio was important piece of livingroom furniture. Beautiful, massive cabinets and colorful dials designed by artists each company hired. Two leaders, Crosley and Zenith went nuts outdoing each other with the biggest and best. Lots of photos and stories on the net.

  3. Very neat styling and features. Though we never had one, my favorite TV name and "feature" had to be a Quasar and it's "Works in a Drawer." They also had a very cool jingle that sounded so Space-Age. Heck it WAS Space-Age!!

  4. I remember the Quasar jingle, anyone growing up in the early 1970's has that one burned into their memory!

    My parents had a huge black and white Zeinth when I was a child. We got the first color TV around 1968 or so.

  5. Great post! I had one of those portable TVs in the 80's- man it sucked up the batteries like nobody's business! If you didn't have a power source, you'd be broke in no time! There were some lovely big furniture TVS then that's for sure

  6. You know, MY mom always wore her black lamay gown when we watched TV. It made for a classy evening.
    (The Admiral ad)

    Those were the days. When we use to get a babysitter when mom and dad went to the movies. A sitter who would let us stay up and watch shows after 9 pm./


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