Media History Project
mediahst@umn.edu

1940-1949 C.E.

  • 1940: 5.5% of U.S. adult males, 3.8% of females have college diplomas.
  • 1940: Nobel Prizes will not be awarded during most of World War II.
  • 1940: Zenith experiments with mechanical color wheel television.
  • 1940: Burma-Shave roadside ads.
  • 1940: Radio hit shows include Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Burns and Allen, Major Bowes.
  • 1940: 24% of American adults completed high school.
  • 1940: William Saroyan’s prize-winnng drama, The Time of Your Life.
  • 1940: On Broadway, Cole Porter’s Panama Hattie.
  • 1940: W.B. Yeats’ Last Poems published a year after his death.
  • 1940: Richard Wright’s Native Son describes growing up with racism.
  • 1940: Teletypewriter, calculator tied by phone line to demonstrate remote computing.
  • 1940: First broadband carrier for multiple phone calls.
  • 1940: For phonograph recording, a single-groove stereo system is developed.
  • 1940: Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel of the Spanish civil war.
  • 1940: Faulkner’s first novel of the Snopes trilogy, The Hamlet.
  • 1940: Churchill’s radio speeches encourage battered Britons, others.
  • 1940: Carson McCullers’ first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
  • 1940: Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, a “whiskey priest” in Mexico.
  • 1940: Peter Goldmark at CBS demonstrates electronic color TV.
  • 1940: Fantasia introduces a kind of stereo sound to American movie goers
  • 1940: On Broadway, Rodgers and Hart, Pal Joey.
  • 1940: Two radio quiz shows debut: Truth Or Consequences and Take It Or Leave It.
  • 1940: “Downhill skier” starts Charles Addams’ career at The New Yorker.
  • 1940: Start of Peabody Awards for broadcasting excellence.
  • 1940: Chaplin’s The Great Dictator parodies Hitler and Mussolini.
  • 1940: Fibber McGee opens his closet door, and begins a national tradition.
  • 1940: Oscars (given 1941): Rebecca, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers.
  • 1940: More than 28 million U.S> homes have radios.
  • 1940: At the movies: Gaslight, The Philadelphia Story, The Grapes of Wrath.
  • 1940: Also at the movies: the first of the six Bob Hope - Bing Crosby “Road” films.
  • 1940: U.S. gets first regular TV station, WNBT, New York; estimated 10,000 viewers.
  • 1940: Bugs Bunny cartoons.
  • 1940: Radio adventure program for kids: Captain Midnight.
  • 1940: Big bands dominate popular music.
  • 1940: Democratic, Republican national conventions are on radio.
  • 1940: Regular FM radio broadcasting begins in a small way.
  • 1940: Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, the Seventh, honors WW II resistance.
  • 1940: First of Upton Sinclair’s 11 Lanny Budd novels looking at 20th century’s events.
  • 1940: In France, discovery of Lascaux caves reveals fine paleolithic animal drawings.
  • 1941: Eugene O’Neill’s play, A Long Day’s Journey into Night.
  • 1941: FCC sets U.S. TV standards.
  • 1941: William Shirer, Berlin Diary, chronicles rise of Nazis.
  • 1941: Noel Coward’s play, Blithe Spirit.
  • 1941: Lillian Hellman’s play, Watch on the Rhine.
  • 1941: Touch-tone dialing tried in Baltimore.
  • 1941: FCC decision to shift FM bandwidth makes existing sets obsolete.
  • 1941: Citizen Kane experiments with flashback, camera movement, sound techniques.
  • 1941: A Moscow cinema gets stereo speaker system.
  • 1941: Bertolt Brecht’s anti-fascist play, Mother Courage and Her Children.
  • 1941: Microwave transmission.
  • 1941: NTSC 525-line standard approved by FCC for television.
  • 1941: In “Mayflower” decision, FCC rules that broadcasters cannot editorialize.
  • 1941: The push button telephone.
  • 1941: Mohandas Gandhi explains passive resistance in “Constructive Programme.”
  • 1941: IBM offers a typewriter with proportional spacing.
  • 1941: Pocket Books begins first mass distribution system for books.
  • 1941: Radar placed on U.S. Navy warship.
  • 1941: In U.S., 13 million radios manufactured. War will shut down production.
  • 1941: Motorola manufactures a two-way AM police radio.
  • 1941: An illustrated copy of the Iliad starts trend to classics with art.
  • 1941: In New York, the first television commercials.
  • 1941: McCullers, Reflections in a Golden Eye; Southern heat, will be major film.
  • 1941: FCC’s chain broadcasting report weakens network domination of the air.
  • 1941: Walter Winchell is the most popular radio newscaster.
  • 1941: Oscars (given 1942): How Green Was My Valley, Gary Cooper, Joan Fontaine.
  • 1941: Also at the movies: Sergeant York, The Maltese Falcon, Dumbo.
  • 1941: Wonder Woman follows Superman and Batman into the comic books.
  • 1941: Konrad Zuse’s Z3 in Germany is the first computer controlled by software.
  • 1941: CBS and NBC start commercial TV transmission; WW II intervenes.
  • 1941: FDR war declaration has largest audience in radio history: 90 million.
  • 1941: Comic strip characters Pogo and Sad Sack cheer American readers.
  • 1941: Americans hear never-to-be-forgotten radio broadcast of Pearl Harbor attack.
  • 1941: Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, a dispirited novel of the Soviet world.
  • 1941: Record 90 million hear F.D.R. broadcast to nation after Pearl Harbor.
  • 1941: War needs freeze commercial TV development.
  • 1941: Radio networks on 24/7; heavy on news.
  • 1942: Warring nations use radio as propaganda tool.
  • 1942: U.S. war censorship code outlaws man-in-the-street, other ad-lib interviews.
  • 1942: U.S. Office of Censorship bans any mention of weather in baseball broadcasts.
  • 1942: Magnetic recording tape.
  • 1942: Dorothy Parker’s witty Collected Stories.
  • 1942: Supreme Court reverses, offers movies some First Amendment protection.
  • 1942: Thornton Wilder wins third Pulitzer with play, The Skin of Our Teeth.
  • 1942: Atanasoff and Berry in Iowa build the first electronic digital computer.
  • 1942: Poet Robert Frost wins fourth Pulitzer Prize.
  • 1942: Kodacolor Film for prints is the first true color negative film.
  • 1942: Voice of America, Office of War Information, Armed Forces Radio.
  • 1942: Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army puts real soldiers in Broadway revue.
  • 1942: Congress votes F.D.R.’s cheap book rate order into postal law.
  • 1942: Oscars (given 1943): Mrs. Miniver, James Cagney, Greer Garson.
  • 1942: Also at the movies: Yankee Doodle Dandy, Pride of the Yankees, Prelude to War.
  • 1942: Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, touches on absurdities in man’s habits.
  • 1942: “Chattanooga Choo Choo” becomes the first “gold” record.
  • 1942: C.S. Lewis’ satire on salvation, The Screwtape Letters.
  • 1942: Artist Edward Hopper, Nighthawks.
  • 1943: After more than 4,000 episodes, radio’s Amos ‘n’ Andy is canceled.
  • 1943: Oklahoma! advances theatrical musicals by dealing with serious subjects.
  • 1943: Being and Nothingness, expounds Sartre’s philosophy of existentialism.
  • 1943: Repeaters on phone lines quiet long distance call noise.
  • 1943: Armed Services Editions of books published for American troops.
  • 1943: Belá Bartók explores musical harmonies with Concerto for Orchestra.
  • 1943: NBC separates from Blue Network.
  • 1943: In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus expands on the meaninglessness of life.
  • 1943: Norman Rockwell draws The Four Freedoms cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
  • 1943: French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
  • 1943: Betty Smith’s novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
  • 1943: Artist “Grandma” Moses, Sugaring Off.
  • 1943: British code breaking machine Colossus cracks Germany’s Enigma code.
  • 1943: Ayn Rand’s novel of libertarian thought, The Fountainhead.
  • 1943: In Havana night club, swing meets Cuban music: the mambo.
  • 1943: Wire recorders help Allied radio journalists cover WW II.
  • 1943: Comic book publishers are selling 25,000,000 copies a month.
  • 1943: The “walkie-talkie” backpack FM radio.
  • 1943: The newest dance craze: the jitterbug.
  • 1943: William Saroyan’s novel and film, The Human Comedy, a family in wartime.
  • 1943: Broadway musical One Touch of Venus; music: Kurt Weill; book: Ogden Nash.
  • 1943: Oscars (given 1944): Casablanca, Paul Lukas, Jennifer Jones.
  • 1943: Also at the movies: For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Ox-Bow Incident, Desert Victory.
  • 1944: Harvard’s Mark I, first digital computer to be put in service.
  • 1944: Two new radio shows: Ozzie & Harriet and Roy Rogers.
  • 1944: Hooper replaces Crossley as dominant radio ratings company.
  • 1944: Economist Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, rips communist planning.
  • 1944: Smokey the Bear starts fighting forest fires.
  • 1944: On Broadway, Leonard Bernstein’s musical, On the Town.
  • 1944: Anne Frank dies in Bergen-Belsen. Her diary will survive.
  • 1944: After 16 years, Thomas Mann completes Joseph and His Brothers.
  • 1944: Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge.
  • 1944: Sartre’s play, No Exit: “Hell is other people.”
  • 1944:One-fifth of network radio time is given to news.
  • 1944: Radio network censors cut sound on Eddie Cantor song.
  • 1944: Networks cancel commercial programs during presidential conventions.
  • 1944: Colette continues sensitive novels about women with Gigi.
  • 1944: John Hersey’s novel, A Bell for Adano, finds humanity in midst of war.
  • 1944: Oscars (given 1945): Going My Way, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman.
  • 1944: Also at the movies: Gaslight, Lifeboat, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Fighting Lady.
  • 1944: First U.S. radio network censorship: sound cut on Eddie Cantor show song.
  • 1944: NBC presents first U.S. televised network newscast, a curiosity.
  • 1944: Aaron Copland composes Appalachian Spring; will win Pulitizer Prize.
  • 1944: With Norway free, the Nobel Prize in Literature to Johannes Jensen, Denmark.
  • 1945: Richard Wright’s searing coming-of-age novel, Black Boy.
  • 1945: Benjamin Britten composes A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
  • 1945: Capt. John Mullin “liberates” two German tape recorders; starts U.S. industry.
  • 1945: Perhaps radio’s most eloquent moment: Murrow’s report on Buchenwald.
  • 1945: Gallup Poll asks, “Do you know what television is?” Many don’t.
  • 1945: Arthur Clarke envisions geosynchronous communication satellites.
  • 1945: In Sweden, Pippi Longstocking, the tale of a free-spirited girl, is published.
  • 1945: U.S. has 2,000 miles of co-axial cable.
  • 1945: It is estimated that 14,000 products are made from paper.
  • 1945: Millions tune in daily to hear news as World War II comes to an end.
  • 1945: Nobel Prize in Literature: poet Gabriela Mistral, Chile, first Latin American.
  • 1945: The entire nation sits by the radio to attend FDR’s funeral.
  • 1945: Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, arguably his best non-satiric novel.
  • 1945: Tennessee Williams’ play of shattered hope, The Glass Menagerie.
  • 1945: In Russia, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony is performed.
  • 1945: Another Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway smash, Carousel.
  • 1945: Oscars (given 1946): The Lost Weekend, Ray Milland, Joan Crawford.
  • 1945: Also at the movies: Mildred Pierce, Spellbound, The True Glory, Henry V.
  • 1945: Arthur Godfrey joins CBS radio network, stays 27 years.
  • 1945: Much improved television camera, the image-orthicon.
  • 1945: Art Linkletter on CBS radio.
  • 1945: FCC assigns VHF spectrum of channels 2 – 13.
  • 1945: The Klipschorn folded horn speaker.
  • 1945: Starting its long life on NBC radio: Meet the Press.
  • 1945: American Broadcasting Co. emerges from sale of NBC Blue in 1943.
  • 1945: Vannevar Bush conceives idea of hyperlinks, hypermedia.
  • 1945: George Orwell’s Animal Farm lampoons totalitarianism, communism.
  • 1946: Jukeboxes go into mass production.
  • 1946: Founding of Bantam Books.
  • 1946: Seven thousand television sets are sold in the U.S.
  • 1946: John Hersey, Hiroshima, effects of atom bomb on six lives.
  • 1946: The Photon, the first practical phototypesetting machine.
  • 1946: University of Pennsylvania’s ENIAC heralds the modern electronic computer.
  • 1946: Dr.Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.
  • 1946: In St. Louis, automobile radio telephones connect to telephone network.
  • 1946: Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts starts 12-year run on CBS radio.
  • 1946: Soap operas enter television with Faraway Hill.
  • 1946: On Broadway, Brigadoon, Annie Get Your Gun, Carmen Jones.
  • 1946: Louis-Conn heavyweight title fight is telecast to 100,000 viewers.
  • 1946: U.S. Army Signal Corps reports bouncing radar signal off moon, getting echo.
  • 1946: Carson McCullers’ novel, The Member of the Wedding, a girl’s coming of age.
  • 1946: Oscars (given 1947): The Best Years of Our Lives, Frederic March, Olivia De Haviland.
  • 1946: Also at the movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Yearling, The Razor’s Edge.
  • 1946: In France, the debut of the Cannes Film Festival.
  • 1946: U.S. nationwide telephone numbering plan.
  • 1946: The New York City Ballet starts to dance.
  • 1946: RCA, NBC demonstrate rival color television systems.
  • 1946: Italian cinema counters Hollywood glitz with neo-realism in Open City.
  • 1946: Nobel Prize in Literature: Swiss German novelist Herman Hesse.
  • 1946: Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy.
  • 1946: U.S. has 1,000 licensed AM radio stations.
  • 1946: U.S. population: 141 million; movie tickets sold weekly: 100 million.
  • 1946: After WW II freeze, U.S. radio manufacturers turn out 15 million sets this year.
  • 1946: Westinghouse “Stratovision” on airplane bounces TV signal 250 miles.
  • 1946: CBS experiment sends color TV program 450 miles over coaxial cable.
  • 1946: Robert Penn Warren’s novel about Huey Long, All the King’s Men.
  • 1946: A television network soap opera: Faraway Hill.
  • 1946: Television Arts and Science Academy is formed.
  • 1947: James Michener’s writing career starts with Tales of the South Pacific.
  • 1947: Charles Ives wins Pulitizer for Symphony No. 3.
  • 1947: Dialectic of Enlightenment introduces public to Frankfurt School of thought.
  • 1947: Seven U.S. East Coast TV stations begin regular programming.
  • 1947: Two million radios can receive FM.
  • 1947: Television network service expands with line from New York to Boston.
  • 1947: A State of the Union address, by President Harry Truman, is televised.
  • 1947: World Series is telecast. Yankees beat Dodgers.
  • 1947: Poet W.H. Auden wins Pulitzer Prize for “Nones.”
  • 1947: The Diary of Anne Frank is published.
  • 1947: Two more radio shows for kids: Lassie and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.
  • 1947: American television viewers watch commercials.
  • 1947: Edwin Land’s Polaroid camera prints pictures in a minute.
  • 1947: The Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered in a cave.
  • 1947: Allen Funt begins his foolery with Candid Microphone on ABC radio.
  • 1947: Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man (in U.S.: Survival in Auschwitz)
  • 1947: Meet the Press shifts from radio to TV; will be television’s longest running program.
  • 1947: André Gide wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • 1947: From Chicago, Kukla, Fran & Ollie entertain children.
  • 1947: Dennis Gabor, Hungarian engineer in England, invents holography.
  • 1947: The transistor, invented at Bell Labs, will replace vacuum tubes.
  • 1947: On Broadway, Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • 1947: The zoom lens covers baseball’s world series for TV.
  • 1947: NBC cuts to dead air when Fred Allen tells joke about NBC vice presidents.
  • 1947: U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee attacks entertainment industry.
  • 1947: Oscars (given 1948): Gentleman’s Agreement, Ronald Colman, Loretta Young.
  • 1947: Also at the movies: Miracle on 34th Street, The Farmer’s Daughter, The Egg and I.
  • 1947: FCC decrees national standard for television receivers.
  • 1947: Mickey Spillane’s I, the Jury, points to new direction for potboilers.
  • 1947: Howdy Doody starts a 13-year television run.
  • 1947: History on radio: You Are There.
  • 1947: Groucho Marx quiz show, You Bet Your Life.
  • 1947: Telephone area codes.
  • 1947: A record 97% of all AM stations in U.S. are affiliated with a network.
  • 1948: Founding of the Public Relations Society of America.
  • 1948: Wilbur Schramm’s Source-Message-Channel-Receiver commmunication model.
  • 1948: On radio: Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.
  • 1948: On TV, CBS Evening News, Ed Sullivan Show, Candid Camera, Arthur Godfrey.
  • 1948: From RCA, a 16-inch television display tube.
  • 1948: Radio’s Candid Microphone becmes TV’s Candid Camera.
  • 1948: CBS and NBC begin nightly 15-minute television newscasts.
  • 1948: Truman Capote’s first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.
  • 1948: TV coverage of GOP convention reaches Midwest via airplane Stratovision.
  • 1948: Newsreels come to TV with Camel Newsreel Theatre.
  • 1948: WFIL-FM, owned by Philadelphia newspaper, transmits fax editions twice a day.
  • 1948: Evelyn Waugh’s novel, The Loved One, savages the funeral industry.
  • 1948: Norman Mailer’s novel of World War II, The Naked and the Dead.
  • 1948: Bell system has 30 million telephones.
  • 1948: Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior of the Human Male delivers some shocks.
  • 1948: LP (“long playing”) record runs 25 minutes per side; old record: 4 minutes.
  • 1948: Poet W.H. Auden’s Pulitzer Prize winning dramatic poem, The Age of Anxiety.
  • 1948: The Tony Awards begin, with awards for the best in 1947 theater.
  • 1948: Leo Fender invents the electric guitar.
  • 1948: Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater jumps sales of television sets.
  • 1948: From RCA, the Ultrafax system can transmit one million words per minute.
  • 1948: Shannon and Weaver of Bell Labs propound information theory.
  • 1948: B.F. Skinner, Walden Two, a utopia based on operant behavior.
  • 1948: French ink maker Marcel Bich introduces the Bic ballpoint pen.
  • 1948: Hollywood switches to nonflammable film.
  • 1948: Two radio sitcoms: Our Miss Brooks and Lucille Ball’s My Favorite Husband.
  • 1948: From the United Nations, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • 1948: Public clamor for television begins; FCC freezes new licenses.
  • 1948: CBS raids NBC for radio, TV top talent.
  • 1948: Western Union manufactures 50,000 Deskfax machines for fax transmission.
  • 1948: Community Antenna Television, CATV, forerunner to cable TV.
  • 1948: Airplane re-broadcasts TV signal across nine states.
  • 1948: Alan Paton’s novel of South Africa, Cry, the Beloved Country.
  • 1948: Oscars (given 1949): Hamlet, Laurence Olivier, Jane Wyman.
  • 1948: Also at the movies: Johnny Belinda, The Snake Pit, Red River.
  • 1948: Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the other Peanuts begin as Li’l Folks.
  • 1948: Cole Porter’s Shakespearan musical, Kiss Me Kate, on Broadway.
  • 1948: European nations import quotas on foreign films hit Hollywood.
  • 1948: Artist Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World.
  • 1948: George Orwell’s novel of a bleak, fascist future, 1984.
  • 1948: Nobel Prize in Literature: poet T.S. Eliot.
  • 1948: Theory developed for check-bits to detect errors in phone switching.
  • 1948: Intruder in the Dust continues Faulkner’s examination of Southern prejudices.
  • 1949: Network TV established in U.S.
  • 1949: Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize play, Death of a Salesman.
  • 1949: Presidential inauguration is televised.
  • 1949: Simone de Beauvoir, in The Second Sex, discusses male oppression.
  • 1949: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific on Broadway; wins Pulitzer.
  • 1949: Edward Murphy’s law is a guide to communication and everything else.
  • 1949: The Emmy Awards for television begin, with 1948 programs.
  • 1949: RCA offers the 45 rpm record; Columbia has 33 1/3 rpm LP.
  • 1949: Look magazine says radio is doomed; instead, Look will die.
  • 1949: James Michener writes semi-autobiographical The Fires of Spring.
  • 1949: Milton Berle hosts the first telethon.
  • 1949: NBC prime-time, half-hour TV soap opera: One Man’s Family.
  • 1949: Supreme Court decision splits movie studios from theater chains.
  • 1949: Hollywood studios begin to produce television programs.
  • 1949: Nobel Prize in Literature: American novelist William Faulkner.
  • 1949: FCC Fairness Doctrine reverses 1941 Mayflower; stations must carry opinions.
  • 1949: The McIntosh amplifier improves home listening.
  • 1949: Dragnet starts on NBC radio.
  • 1949: AT&T phone combines ringer and handset, volume control.
  • 1949: Nelson Algren’s novel of drug addiction, The Man with the Golden Arm.
  • 1949: The Lone Ranger gallops onto television screens.
  • 1949: Oscars (given 1950): All the King’s Men, Broderick Crawford, Olivia De Haviland.
  • 1949: Also at the movies: Twelve O’Clock High, Battleground, Champion.
  • 1949: Hollywood tackles race issue in Pinky, but plays safe with a white actress.
  • 1949: Italian neo-realism continues with The Bicycle Thief.
  • 1949: Talent, money, energy move from radio to television.
  • 1949: Whirlwind at MIT is the first real-time computer.
  • 1949: Library of Congress awards annual Bollingen Prize for living poets.
  • 1949: The acoustic suspension loudspeaker.
  • 1949: On TV: Captain Video, Easy Aces, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Voice of Firestone.
  • 1949: Shirley Jackson’s story of sheeplike behavior, “The Lottery.”
  • 1949: The United States has 98 television stations.
  • 1949: Poet Stephen Spender’s essay on communism, The God That Failed.
  • 1949: These Are My Children, NBC televised soap opera.
  • 1949: New York - Chicago co-ax lines: three channels westbound, two east.
  • 1949: British EDSAC computer stores programs in memory, switches programs.