5. New York World's Fair



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Lucite, or Plexiglas, was a new product, and the theme of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, so every company that had a pavilion, had to have something made of Lucite. David Sarnoff – head of RCA and founder of NBC – decided to use this as the launch of “commercial” television to the American public.

Prior to this, people were afraid of television. They did not understand how you could see someone doing something live, and thought that if the person on the screen turned to face the camera, that they could see them back, so they did not want a television in their home. By making a set with a clear cabinet, and placing a camera outside their pavilion, RCA showed the public that they had nothing to fear from television.

Random visitors were asked to step outside and stand in front of the camera so their friends and family could see them on the TV. Once they returned, they received a card that said “I was televised at the 1939 New York World’s fair”. Thousands of people showed up to see an actual working television for the very first time.