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Time Line: Technology and Alternative Media

by Dee Dee Halleck

thanks to Michael Eisenmenger, Linda Iannacone, Davidson Gigliotti, John Handhardt, Erik Barnouw, Chris Hill and others.


- "It is inconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service to be drowned in advertising chatter!" -- President Herbert Hoover on radio advertisements.


- Unions, educators and progressive religious leaders band together to demand non commercial broadcasting spectrum space.


- NBC starts a television station in the Empire State Building.


- Orson Welles broadcasts "War of the World" on Mercury Theater of the Air.


- WWII begins.


- NBC begins to relay telecasts to GE’s labs, history’s first TV "network".


- TV goes on an active commercial basis

- FCC authorizes TV as a broadcast service

- December 7- Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, the next day U.S. declares war on Japan.

- December 11- U.S. declares war on Germany and Italy.


- During the war the OWI and the Voice of America broadcast 3,200 live weekly programs of US information and propaganda in 40 different languages.


-End of WWII -- US drops atomic bomb on Japan.


- The House Committee on Un-American Activities investigates the motion picture industry for Communist infiltration, resulting in widespread blacklisting

- Edward R. Murrow, new CBS vice-president, starts documentary unit

- Color television demonstrations by CBS and NBC

- The Pacifica Foundation pioneers the concept of listener sponsored radio, providing two of the most fundamental policies in the First Amendment, free speech in broadcast and access to media. Becomes network of 5 radio stations in Berkeley, Los Angeles, New York City , Houston and Washington D.C.


HUAC Hearings in Hollywood to sniff out "Red" influence in movies.


- the year starts with 175,000 sets and 19 operating TV stations in the USA. It ends with nearly 1 million sets and 47 stations.


- The Lone Ranger
and Hopalong Cassidy initiate the TV Western series.


- Nielson ratings begin measuring TV viewing habits

-NBC launches Today show

- President Truman orders the airforce and navy to Korea, approving ground forces and air strikes.

- CBS institutes a loyalty oath.


- The first daytime soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, begins.

- I Love Lucy, the first successful filmed (rather than live) TV serie.

- Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly’s radio program Hear it Now is brought to TV as See it Now.

- NBC launches Today television series starring Dave Garroway and J. Fred Muggs, a monkey.

- Blacklisting institutionalized at networks and agencies.

- the CIA starts up a propaganda operation to promote U.S. government interests through international media outlets.


- Dragnet, the prototype of the documentary style police detective series begins.

- Supreme Court rules that movies are protected under First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

- FCC reserves television channels for education.

- Cable systems number 70 with 14,000 subscribers.

-Lucio Fontana, identifies television as a medium for artists in his Television Manifesto of the Spatial Movement, Milan.


- First issue of TV Guide is published by the Annenberg family.


- 29 million TV sets in use in the USA.

- Army McCarthy hearings broadcast, carried live by ABC.

- Swanson introduces the TV dinner for 95 cents.


First Sony pocket radio.


- Videotape recording system introduced by Ampex (commercially used in 1957).

- John Henry Faulk files suit over Aware attack and blacklist conspiracy.


Sputnik Launch: USSR sends up first satellite, combining missile technology with solid state electronics.


- The Cuban Film Institute, ICAIC, is established by government decree just three months after the victory of the Cuban Revolution


- Networks ban news documentaries other than their own productions.

- Cable systems number 640 with 650,000 subscribers.


-"Children Make Movies" workshop at Lillian Wald Settlement, Ave D, Lower East Side, NY.

- Over 90% of US homes have one or more TV sets.


-Alexander Kluge and others draft a manifesto at the Oberhausen Film Festival, which inaugurates the New German Cinema.

-Filmmakers Coop founded to distribute alternative film, Children Make Movies is the first film sold (to the Educational Department of the Ford Foundation.)


- Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech is televised during the Civil Rights March on Washington.

- The assassination and funeral of President Kennedy and on screen murder of Lee Harvey Oswald disrupt all regular programming for four days. Oswald’s murder is repeatedly aired, becoming the prototype of instant replay.

- Establishment of COMSAT (Communications Satellite Corp.) with U.S. tax dollars although ultimately it only benefits large multi nationals.

-Charlotte Moorman initiates New York Annual Avant-Garde Festival.


- CATV or "community antenna television" begins to be called by the term "cable television". Cable TV serves to bring programs to towns that do not yet have stations of their own.

- Nicholas Johnson appointed to the FCC.


- Cable systems number 1,325 with 1,275,000 subscribers.

- Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, by Marshall McLuhan is published making "the history of mass media central to the history of civilization at large".

-Nine Evenings:Theater and Engineering. 69th Regiment Armory, NY, organized by Billy Kluver of Bell Labs.


Down by the Riverside:The USCO Show. Riverside Museum, NY, curated by Gerd Stern & USCO, Steve Durkee, Jud Yalkut, and others.

-Millenium Film Workshop founded.


- Julio Garcia Espinosa of ICAIC publishes the essay "For an Imperfect Cinema", a polemical reflection on the whole practice of revolutionary film, one of the major theoretical statements defining the scope of the New Cinema of Latin America.

-Challenge for Change, Canadian experiment in grass roots video communication begins.

-Pacific Film Archives founded.

-Canyon Cinema founded.

-American Film Institute founded.


-Young Filmmaker Foundation (later called Film/Video Arts) founded.

-Newsreel founded.

-Introduction of the Portapak portable video

- CBS debuts the weekly news show 60 Minutes.

- Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, an important science fiction film with the most elaborate use of special effects to date.

-Challenge for Change entry: One of the first experiments working with video in an activist context.

- "How to Talk Back to Your TV Set" by Nick Johnson.

-Exhibit: The Machine as seen at the End of the Mechanical Age. MOMA, NY

curated by Pontus Hulton.


- First portapak made by Sony.

- Appalshop established in Whitesburg, KY to produce films about Appalachian culture.

-Visual Studies Workshop founded.

- Woodstock Festival: Three Days of Peace and Music.

-The Medium is the Medium. WGBH-TV, Boston, produced by Fred Barzyk.

-Channel One, video screenings in NY: Ken Shapiro, Chevy Chase, Eric Segal.

- The Videofreex begin: Skip Blumberg, Nancy Cain, David Cort, Bart Friedman, Davidson Gigliotti, Chuck Kennedy, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, Parry Teasdale, Carol Vontobel, Ann Woodward.

- Global Village founded by John Reilly, Rudi Stern, Ira Schneider.


- Black Citizens for a Fair Media is founded by Emma Bowen out of concern for the mainstream media’s portrayal of African American people. Each year they hold a community meeting at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY with the Chair of the FCC to keep the community informed about developments in the communications industry.

-Alternate Media Conference, Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont.

- Raindance video collective begins. Frank Gillette, Ira Schneider, Paul Ryan, Beryl Korot, Michael Shamberg, Megan Williams, Louis Jaff? Publishes Radical Software, journal on art and video.

-Construction of the Paik Abe Synthesizer.


- Everson Museum initiates first museum video program curated by David Ross

-Black Citizens for a Fair Media challenges CBS?license for their negative depictions of African American people. Succeed in forcing CBS to hire a person of color at the head of community relations. ABC and NBC follow suit

-Kitchen Center founded by the Vasulkas and Shreedar Bapat.

-Downtown Community Television founded

-Hans Magnus Enzensberger publishes "Constituents of a New Media Theory".

-Videofreex move to Lanesville, NY, publish The Spaghetti City Video Manual,

begin micro TV "self service" broadcasting to neighbors in the mountain hollow.

-National Endowment for the Arts sets up Public Media program.


-Pong, first video arcade game created.

- Community activists organized as the Puerto Rican Education and Action Media Council protest negative depictions of Puerto Ricans and advocate for increased employment within the industry. They successfully pressure WNET TV New York, by taking over the studio during an evening pledge to establish Realidades, a local TV program.

-Collective for Living Cinema founded.

-World's Largest TV Station and 4 More Years produced by TVTV of the conventions.

-Through Navajo Eyes published by John Adair and Sol Worth, pioneering study of Navajo filmmaking.

-Micro Radio stations thrive in Tokyo: over 2000 initiated, inspired by Tetsuo Kogawa.

-Nam June Paik with Charlotte Moorman, Concerto for TV Cello/TV Bra. Everson Museum, Syracuse.

-Teepee Video Space Troup begins at the Chelsea Hotel: Shirley's Clarke's experimental video collective.

-Television Laboratory at WNET NY.


-Women's Video Festival. University of Illinois, Circle Campus, Chicago.

-International Computer Arts Festival. The Kitchen, Mercer Arts Center.


-Nam June Paik, Electronic Art IV. Bonino Gallery (Galeria Bonino), NY

-WGBH New Television Workshop founded.

-First national broadcast of half inch video: Cuba, the People by Jon Alpert

-Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers founded by Ed Lynch and others.

- Television Delivers People. Text video analyzing TV as people market by Richard Serra and Carlotta Schoolman.


-Keep Busy made by Robert Frank and Rudy Wurlitzer on Sea Wolf Island, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

-National Federation of Community Broadcasters.


National Federation of Local Cable Programmers (NFLCP) begins. Later becomes Alliance for Community Media.

-Image Union video collective covers the Democratic Convention for five nights on local orgination cable: The Five Day Bicycle Race.

-Child Made Film symposium at Minnewaska Mountain House.

-Boston Film and Video Foundation.

-Bay Area Video Coalition.

-Independent Media Artists of Georgia (IMAGE).


- The ABC miniseries Roots reaches a record 80 million viewers.

- The first feature films available on video cassette.

- Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) begins as a forum for televangelism; by 1981 CBN is aired 24 hours a day.

-NEA sets up funding program for major media centers.

-Union for Democratic Communications founded.


- PBS announces plan for satellite interconnection of its station via satellite

- NAMAC meets for the first time in, but is not based in Pittsburgh, change entry

- The Black Filmmakers Foundation, a national nonprofit organization is founded to develop audiences for the work of black independent video and filmmakers and to establish a support system for established and emerging media artists.

-AIVF testifies in congress and before the Carnegie Commission on the need for independent media on Public TV.


- COMSAT announces plans for satellite programming direct to the home, via rooftop dishes to be marketed by Sears, Roebuck.

-Communication Update begins on Manhattan Cable, founded by Liza Bear, Michael McClard, Vickie Gholson and DeeDee Halleck.

- Moral Majority and other groups threaten sponsor boycotts over sex and violence on TV.

-Media Network founded by Marc Weiss and others.

-Sandinista victory in Nicaragua.

- The Second Alternative Media Conference brings together independent producers at Bard College in New York State to discuss film and video as an organizing tool.


- Ted Turner launches the Cable News Network (CNN), a 24 hour news service

- 1.1 percent of American homes have VCRs

-National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) founded.


- Polls show that Walter Cronkite is the most trusted man in America

- Private satellite dishes are approved by the FCC. By the end of the decade there will be 2 million in use in the US.

-Paper Tiger Television founded. Initial producers are: Diana Agosta, Pennee Bender, Alison Morse, DeeDee Halleck, Martin Lopez, Dominique Chausse, Vesna Kulasinovec, Alan Steinheimer, Caryn Rogoff, Daniel Brooks, David Shulman, Shu Lea Cheang, Esti Marpet, Leann Mella, Mary Feaster, Melissa Leo, William Bodde, Fusun Atesar, Barry Malitzer, Roger Politzer, Martha Wallner, Roy Wilson, Preacher, Ezra Halleck, Hilery Kipnis, Ellen Windmuth, Linda Cranor, Adam Merims, Daniel Del Solar,

- MTV starts the first rock video cable channel with the music video "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles

- 33rd Session of the U.N. General Assembly adopts resolution on the New World Information Order calling for the strengthening of "the capacity of developing countries to achieve improvement of their own situations, notably by providing their own equipment, by training their own personnel, by improving their infrastructures and making their information and communication media suitable to their needs and aspirations." Resolution sets off strong negative reactions in the US press which unfairly characterizes the intent of N.W.I.O. as an attack on free speech and as promoting Third World government controlled media.

-Computer Professionsals for Social Responsibility


- Cable television experiencing boom period via numerous new satellite program services.

- Media Network is founded to distribute information on social issue media.


-Internet created.

-World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) founded in Montreal.

-United States Invades the small Caribbean island, Grenada.

-Waiting for the Invasion: US Citizens in Nicaragua made by DeeDee Halleck, Skip Blumberg, Karen Ranucci, Joan Braderman, Shulea Cheang, Eddie Becker and Joel Kovel.

-Rupert Murdoch announces plan for DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite Service).

-Voyager founded.


-Qube, the interactive cable system, troubled by nonrenewals in Columbus, OH pulls back from its plans.

-Supreme Court rules that home taping of TV shows does not violate copyright laws.

-Cable Act passed by Congress deregulating industry; prices soon zoom for cable service.

-Paper Tiger West is formed by Jesse Drew, Allan Steinhammer, Karen Einstein, Lisa Rudman and others.

- US government’s offensive against the Third World movement for a New World Information Order culminates in the unilateral withdrawal of the US from UNESCO, drastically undermining their communication development programs.


-Cable systems number 6,600 subscribers with 32,000,000 subscribers.

-Video Cassette Recorders are now in 30% of American homes.

-45.7 percent of American homes wired for cable.

-Average TV viewing peaks at 7 hours and 10 minutes per day per household.

- Squeaky Wheel/ Buffalo Media Resources, Inc., a media arts service organization is founded in Buffalo, NY. Among other things they produce a public access show highlighting local and independent producers and publish "Squealer" Magazine.

-Apple's 1984 commercial introduces the Macintosh computer.


-Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

- The U.S.I.A. develops TV Marti, satellite transmissions of U.S. programming and propaganda to Cuba. Congress appropriates 23.3 million to establish it.

-Paul Garrin and Clayton Patterson capture police brutality at the Tompkins Square Park riots in NY City on their home video cameras. Their tapes are subsequently shown on network news with the disclaimer "amateur footage".

- The Paper Tiger South West Production Collective is formed in San Diego, CA by John Walden, Margaret Dafani, Luana Plunkett, Neil Morrison, Bob Kinney , Jane Cottis and others.


- ABC debuts America’s Funniest Home Videos.

- Time, Inc. merges with Warner Brothers in what will become an era of merger mania.

- FCC initiates inquiry on the effect of the Cable Act

- Whittle Corp., 50% owned by Time/Warner, introduces satellite Channel One into the school system, placing news spots and corporate ads before a captive student body.

- 162 million TV sets in the US in 90 million homes.

- Berlin Wall fall.

- 64.6 percent of homes in the US have VCRs.

-The 90's, weekly magazine program of camcorder independent segments begins on many PBS stations

- Union Producers and Programmers Network (UPNET) is formed linking eight labor video activist groups.

- Diva TV

-Independent Television Service (ITVS) founded as result of intense lobbying by many media arts organizations.

- 25th anniversary of McLuhan's Understanding Media


- Cable systems number 9,575 with 50,000,000 subscribers

- Not Channel Zero, a collective of African American and Latino video makers begins producing for Manhattan public access to address the issues and concerns of their community.

-Electronic Frontier Foundation

-Videazimut, international non-governmental coalition promoting audiovisual communication for development and democracy.


-The Kayapo people of Brazil begin using video for documentation and confrontation.

- The Gulf War-- bombs are dropped on Iraq that have TV cameras in them.

- The brutal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police is documented with a home video camera and aired repeatedly on major network TV, raising awareness not only of racism, but the power and accessibility of video as a weapon and a witness.

-Center for Media Education

-The Satellite University Network initiates a series of Latino programs through the

Center for Puerto Rican Studies: Cynthia Lopez, Pedro Rivera, Jaime Barrios, Susan Zeig, DeeDee Halleck.

- Public Access centers around the country produce 10,000 hours of original programming a week; 520,000 hours a year.


- Cuban Television in beamed from satellites to U.S. communities in retaliation for TV Marti in series. Stone's Throw, TV From Cuba produced by DeeDee Halleck and Monica Melamid

-Paper Tigers are artists in residence at Somerville Cable Access, initiating workshop with Haitian producers.

-Roberto Arevelo starts the Mirror Project, a model youth production effort in the Somerville/Boston area.


-US Court of Appeals overturns the 1992 Cable Act provision allowing cable operators to censor access channels, reaffirms that indecent material is legal.


-The Zapatista Rebels take over San Cristobal de las Casas on Jan 1, the day NAFTA takes effect.

-CD Rom of Mumia Abu Jamal


-Bob Stein leaves Voyager and company stops CD Rom production


-Media and Democracy Conference in San Francisco


-Media and Democracy Conference in New York


-Email surpasses snail mail

-Next 5 Minutes Conference in Amsterdam

-Show Down in Seattle: 10 Days That Shook the WTO


-FCC issues rulemaking to allow non-profit micro radio stations

-AOL acquires Time Warner

-Freespeech TV begins 24 hour transmission on Echo Star's Dish Network.

-Democracy Now and Crashing the Party provide thirty five hours of live national satellite coverage of the Philadelphia and Los Angeles conventions.

Last modified: 03-17-2001
By: jamie

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Last Modified: June 1, 2001

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