A Look Back: How Much Did a TV Cost in the 1940s?

Television has become an integral part of modern life, providing entertainment, news and information to millions of homes worldwide. But it hasn’t always been accessible or affordable for everyone. In the 1940s, television technology was in its infancy, and owning a television was a luxury that came with a hefty price tag. In this expert article, we will examine the cost of televisions in the 1940s, explore the factors that influenced their prices, and provide insight into the purchasing power required to own one.

Television technology in the 1940s

In the 1940s, televisions were relatively new and considered cutting-edge technology. The technology itself was still evolving, and television broadcasts were limited in terms of programming and availability. In addition, television manufacturing was largely disrupted by World War II, which affected the production and availability of televisions.

Television Prices in the 1940s

The cost of a television set in the 1940s depended on several factors, including brand, screen size, and features. On average, a basic black-and-white television set in the 1940s cost about $200 to $600. This was a considerable amount of money at the time, the equivalent of several thousand dollars in today’s currency when inflation is taken into account.

It’s important to note that the above prices were for entry-level models, and more advanced or larger sets could cost significantly more. In addition, prices varied by geographic location, as television adoption and availability were not uniform across the country.

Purchasing Power and Affordability

To put the cost of a television set in the 1940s into perspective, it’s important to consider the average income and purchasing power of the time. In the 1940s, the average annual income in the United States was around $2,000 to $3,000. This means that a television set could cost anywhere from about 7% to 30% or more of a person’s annual income, making it a significant investment.

In addition, television ownership in the 1940s was limited to relatively affluent households. The high cost of televisions, coupled with limited programming options and the lingering effects of World War II, meant that televisions were found primarily in wealthier households or in public places such as bars, hotels, or community centers.


In the 1940s, television ownership was a luxury that required a substantial financial commitment. The cost of a television set ranged from $200 to $600, depending on factors such as brand, screen size, and features. Given the average income at the time, the purchase of a television represented a significant portion of a household’s annual income.

Over the decades, advances in technology, increased production, and market competition have made televisions more affordable and accessible to a wider range of households. Today, televisions are available in a variety of sizes, with a wide range of features, and at significantly lower prices when adjusted for inflation.

Understanding the cost of televisions in the 1940s provides valuable insight into the evolution of television as a consumer product and the economic considerations surrounding its adoption. It shows how far technology has come and how television has become a commonplace item in today’s homes.


How much did a TV cost in the 1940s?

In the late 1940s local stations did broadcast TV. This was the hippest thing to hit the airwaves and TVs themselves cost a small fortune to buy. In 1948 the “big-picture” TV set from Magnavox cost $279.50, which would be $3,025 in today’s money. Talk about a big purchase!

What was the price of a TV in the 1950s?

Several manufacturers made 15 and 19 inch sets, most in very small quantities. The first set was made by Westinghouse, and sold for $1295. RCA introduced the CT-100 a few weeks later, at a price of $1000. GE sold its 15 inch set for $1,000, Sylvania’s cost $1,150.

What did a TV look like in 1940?

The 1940s TVs didn’t look like today’s televisions. Most had picture screens between 10 and 15 inches wide diagonally, inside large, heavy cabinets. And, of course, color broadcasts and sets didn’t arrive until much later, in 1954.

What was the cost of the first TV?

The first commercially made electronic televisions with cathode ray tubes were manufactured by Telefunken in Germany in 1934, followed by other makers in France (1936), Britain (1936), and USA (1938). The cheapest model with a 12-inch (30 cm) screen was $445 (equivalent to $8,).

How much did a TV cost in 1940 in UK?

The Early Years Price of TVs

A black and white TV set in the 1940s would cost you approximately £111.39, which seems relatively cheap today. However, taking inflation into account, in today’s money, this would look more like £6377.19.

How much did a TV cost in 1945?

Rose Clare Leonard watches the screen, which reproduces a 5×7 image, as she tunes in at the first public post-war showing at a New York department store, Aug. 24, 1945. This television set, retailing for $100, is reported the first moderately priced receiver manufactured in quantity.

How much was a color TV in 1956?

just $495

Back in 1956, a brand new color TV was only 21″ or smaller. And, you could have one in your home for just $495.

When did TV become common in homes?

The number of television sets in use rose from 6,000 in 1946 to some 12 million by 1951. No new invention entered American homes faster than black and white television sets; by 1955 half of all U.S. homes had one.

Did people have TVs in 1942?

In April of 1942 (when about 5,000 television sets were in operation), production of new televisions, radios and other civilian broadcasting equipment was suspended until August of 1945. But by 1947, there were about 44,000 TVs, and that number swelled to 940,000 in 1949 and 20 million in 1953.

How many people had TVs in the 1940s?

World War II, with its freeze on commercial television and general technology shortages, delayed the rise of the medium. Before 1947, only a few thousand American homes owned television sets. Just five years later, that number jumped to 12 million. By 1955, half of American homes had a TV set.

How much did TVs cost in 1955?

1955 Magnavox television ad. The cost of this tv in 1955 was $249.50.

What did a TV cost in 1954?

March 1954: Westinghouse offers color TV for sale. Cost: $1,295. March 25, 1954: Mass production of first RCA Victor color sets, model CT-100.

How much did it cost to buy a TV in 1960?

By the mid-1960s a large color TV could be obtained for only $300– a mere $2,490 in today’s money. It’s unthinkable how much of an average worker’s income that would have been back then.

How much did a TV cost in 1965?

Buying power of $1,000.00 since 1960

Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1965 $838.31 -4.70%
1966 $803.58 -4.14%
1967 $787.85 -1.96%
1968 $785.19 -0.34%

How much was a fridge in 1960?

Used 1963 cars ranged from $1,045 to $1,595. Two 1960 Oldsmobiles both cost $795. Most appliance ads did not list the price, but one Glen Electric ad offered a two-door refrigerator-freezer for $258 and threw in a free radio or clock radio.

How much was a colour TV in 1975?

Advertisements for colour television sets began appearing during the lead up to C-Day from brands like Phillips, HMV, Pye, Sanyo, Rank, Sharp, Panasonic Sony and National. And in 1975, buying a colour TV would set you back around $1000 – $1300, which is equivalent to $8250 – $10,700 in today’s prices.