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Red Channels: 1959

Red Channels: 1959

August 5, 1959. "Russians looking at television sets and radios at the USSR Exhibition in Sokolniki Park, Moscow, next to the American National Exhibition." U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. View full size.


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TV land Moscow, 1980

Those of us covering the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow stayed at the enormous Rossiya hotel, just off Red Square. Which had no TVs in the rooms, just the old wooden cabinet Muzak-style speakers on the walls, with a volume control and a four-position switch for choosing a "station." Every morning as I left for work, I would turn to the speaker and tell it that I was gone for the day, and when I would be returning...

TV Land

Interestingly enough these TV sets may have played a part in the downfall of the Soviet Empire. There was at that time 3 basic TV Broadcast Systems, our NTSC, the European PAL and the French Secam. They were incompatible. The NTSC was the first, the PAL was next improving on ours and Secam came after and had the best picture. The Russians chose Secam and modified it to what was called Secam D so that only their broadcasts could be seen there. In the 1980s Multi-System VCR units made their appearance and allowed VHS tapes to be played on any TV. They were bootlegged into the USSR and the tapes were copied and black-marketed. Soviet Block citizens now had the ability to see what was going on in Western Europe and the USA and their dissatisfaction led to the eventual changing of the guard in the 1990s.

Soviet Television

It watches you.

All these sets

And nothing to watch but that Khrushchev test pattern!

More like 1989 right?

Soviets were a bit "behind the times" when it came to personal electronics back then.

No Satellite TV Yet

Of course, the US pavillon would not only have been able to display maybe ten times the number of makes and models, but would probably also have been able to show a different channel on each and any of them once somebody had built the neccessary networking. Not to mention that the US procedure would have been to order, rate-pay and take delivery the next day, rather than order, bribe and wait two years for delivery.

I wonder what would have been more bewildering to the world elite of the working class.

By the way, a significant number of consumer products in the USSR came from other East Block contries. And were generally much preferred by the Soviet citizens on account of the relatively lower level of shoddiness. They were paid for with oil, gas, MIGs and tanks. A fair number of TV sets came from East Germany, for instance.

I love the stamp!

Shorpy looks almost cyrillic.

They look just like real television sets

When broadcast signals go on the air they'll be even more remarkable.

This one gets the award for the cleverest "Shorpy" placement ever.

I like the Shorpy reflection

But shouldn't it be Cyrillic?

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