Notebook

The most striking novelty of the American landscape today, to anyone who knows it pretty well, is a little box about as big as a prairie schoolhouse. These boxes are trim and white and you see them every thirty miles, as rhythmic as telegraph poles, as you cross the country, whether you go  by the south, the three middle routes, the two northern routes across 3,000 miles. They are the microwave repeater stations, that pick up and carry the television image into the laps of the next section of the people. The result last season was that the number of television sets in this country jumped from about 19 million to now over 30 million – that’s one set for every five people, or two sets for every three families, covering 252 stations. We used to think – and unhappily, the movie boys used to think – as late as three years ago that it would be years before people in the Rockies and the Sierras and the desert would have television.

Alistair Cooke, “Is US Television Killing the Movies?”: Letter From America, 10 June 1954.

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