Watching TV in the 1960s was really very easy. You just plugged in your set, connected an antenna, turned it on and you were all set. Well maybe. If you didn’t live in an area where a roof antenna was allowed, you’d have to stick with a rabbit ears, and you might have to manipulate it to work differently with each channel.
In my day, having most stations emitting from the same transmission tower (the Empire State Building) in New York City made it easy. One setting, and all was well. Well, not quite. My obsessive desire for a perfectly clear picture was never filled. It was always a little ghostly.
Segue to my travels to small towns around America to begin my broadcast career. There were usually no nearby stations, or perhaps just one. A proper roof antenna would be hugely expensive even if it were allowed. But then there was cable TV, originally defined as “community antenna television.” It worked by setting a large receiving system to pick up distant channels, and wiring neighborhoods to pick up the signals on a portable receiver. Hence the cable or set top box.
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