The basic technology for electronic television (as opposed to earlier mechanical efforts) was invented by Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin around 1930, and the first sets became commercially available in the late 30's. Collectors draw a sharp distinction between these vintage pre-war and post-war television sets, as very few of the former were manufactured and only a few hundred still survive.

1946 through 1955 was the first big growth period for television sets. In 1947 there were only about 100,000 TV sets in the U.S. (many of them in bars and clubs) but by 1953 there were 13 million. CBS started broadcasting in color in 1951, and all-electronic color sets were first introduced in 1954. By far the largest television set manufacturer in those early days was RCA, but other vintage television brands include General Electric, Dumont, Andrea, and Zenith. RCA also made sets for Westinghouse and for Sears.

Most collectors collect black and white sets from 1939 to 1949 and color sets through 1960. For black and white sets made after 1949, the values drop off dramatically, with some exceptions. There were a lot more TVs produced after the mid 1950s, so there are many still around (and they started to become less visually interesting, with metal cabinets). There are also people who collect early transistor sets from the 1960s and 70s, and micro TV sets.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Early Television Museum

Early Television Museum

Curious about early mechanical TV sets from the 20s and 30s? Prewar electronic sets? Or postwar American and Britis… [read review or visit site]

The MZTV Museum of Television

The MZTV Museum of Television

This incredible website by the MZTV Museum of Television (based in Canada) is an interactive playground of televisi… [read review or visit site]

Tvhistory.tv

Tvhistory.tv

Tom Genova’s great reference on the first 75 years of TV history. Organized chronologically, with photos of s… [read review or visit site]

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob is an extensive resource on all types of audio electronics organized by manufacturer, from Aiwa to… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Tv Set Package Deal 14 Televisions Arvin, Pilot, Andrea, Ge, Rca,Rca Picture Tube 7jp4 (1) Motorola Vt-71 Vintage Tv Early Chassis Ts-4d With Channel 1Vintage Sony Mega Watchman Portable 4.5" B&w Tv Am/fm Radio Boombox Fd-510 Nice!Motorola Tv Golden View Model Vt 71 Chassis Ts-4j For Parts Or Repair Vintage 1960 Sony Model 8-301w Portable Table Top 8” Tv, Box, Ac Cord, Nice One!Vintage Tv Set Package Deal 14 Televisions Arvin, Pilot, Andrea, Ge, Rca,Philco Courier Vintage Tube Type 16 Inch B & W Portable Tv Working Usa Vintage Philco H-2010 Safari Tube Television Antique Tv Old PortableSinclair Microvision Pocket Tv C1978 Complete With ExtrasSinclair Ftv1 Flat Screen Pocket Tv C1984 Complete With Wallet & Battery EtcVtg Raytheon Television Set Retro Tube Tv Brown Wood Bug-eyed Screen B&w 1950's Vintage Sony Car Antenna Rabbit Ears Model Vca-1Silvertone 8xp4 Picture Tube Crt Used Clean! Tested Ok On Cr161 Sencore L@@k!Panasonic Jetson Vintage TvMains Adaptor For Sinclair Ftv1 Flat Screen Pocket Tv C1984 240vac - 6vdcVintage Original Black And White Sony Watchman Fd-210 Portable Tv1949 Silvertone 7" Leatherette Portable TvOld Vtg Antique Precision Plastics Tv Magnifier Screen 1940s LensVintage Sony All Channel Transistor Television Receiver Model 5-307uw Sony Lcd Tv Fdl-k400Zenith Ac-dc 9" Portable B&w TvPortable Vintage 5" Emerson Bw Television New In Box With All AccessoriesVintage Rca Color Tv Nice Vintage 1960s Zenith Space Command 400 Tv Remote Control1977 Toshiba Black Stripe 8" Solid State Portable Black & White Tv W/handle. Skytek Portable Tv 4.5 Black And WhiteCasio Pocket Color Tv Tv-970bVintage Bakelite Tv Tuner Blonder Tougue B T Labs Uhf Tv Tuner Tv Channel Tuner Bentley Deluxe Portable 4.5 Inch Black & White TvVintage Zenith Two Button Remote Control Space Commander Three HundredVintage 1950s Snapshot Photo Zenith Television Tv 516258Vintage Emerson 5.5" Color Television Am/fm Radio Ac/dc W/box Model Pc6Vintage Sony Watchman Fd-2aVintage Sony Watchman Fd-240 Portable Handheld Tv Set - Tested Works! Retro 80sSony Mega Watchman Fd-525 4.5” Tv Screen Black & White Am/fm Tuner