"I was watching the DuMont last night..." - A TV set for the horsey set.

In the Simpsons episode Simpson and Delilah (the one where Homer grows hair with the help of Minoxidil), Mister Burns says something weird  when emerging from the executive bathroom at the nuclear plant:

"Oh, hey ho, men. You know, I was watching the Dumont last night, when I happened to catch a fascinating documentary on Rommel, the Desert Fox..."

So what the hell is a DuMont? This is the hell a DuMont.

DuMont was one of the earliest television manufacturers. DuMont laboratories was founded in 1931 by Allen B. DuMont, and by 1938 has developed the first all-electronic TV set. Apparently they were pretty darn good for the time. The trouble with being the (nearly) first TV manufacturer is a serious shortage of content. So, DuMont opened a few "experimental" TV stations on the East coast around WWII, with some funding from Paramount Pictures. With money being a constant problem, DuMont was forced to expand onto UHF, which even then, was already the ghetto of the TV spectrum. Sadly, the network folded by 1956, despite being a pioneer in many ways. Even though you've probably never heard of the DuMont network, you may have heard of some of their programming, like Arthur Murray, Ernie Kovacs, and Captain Video.

A thousand years ago, I worked at a video post house, where we had a portable VHS deck with a tiny monitor built into it, for reviewing tapes and logging footage. We called it the DuMont, despite there being no badge or identifier on it anywhere by that name. I have no explanation for why it was tarred and feathered with that title, but there must be some kind of connection. Google finds no sign of DuMont still making video equipment in the 1990s.

This ad was lovingly scanned by the Images and Scanning Them Squad from an issue of Fortune magazine: the publication of the Monopoly guy. If you had a TV in 1949, you were doing all right for yourself. For about a thousand bucks (about 10,000 of today's dollars), you bought the privilege of peering into a cabinet at a 20" screen. Of course, color was still a dream.   So what are the blue bloods in today's ad all dressed up to watch? Steeplechase, of course. There's a reason they call them the "horsey set".

Click for big.


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