To the left, a blonde, lit by a battery of spotlights, sings into an oddlooking microphone. A pianist accompanies her. To the right, an average American couple stares at a box where, mirabile dictu , the image of the blonde appears. The figures are marionettes, the year 1932, and it is an image of television and the future of America.
The photograph, sent to us by Duncan G. Steck of New York City, was made at the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago. It shows part of a display predicting “the future of television,” created with eerie prescience by the G. & C. Merriam Co., in whose archives the picture has lain for some fifty years. Little is known about the photographer, Albert Duval.
Seven years later, when the New York World’s Fair featured live television broadcasts by NBC, Merriam boasted of its foresight in a company magazine: “It is rather remarkable, we think, how closely that interpretation resembles the latest photographs of actual television broadcasting practice. ” And so, indeed, it has come to pass.
We continue to ask our readers to send unusual and previously unpublished old photographs to Carla Davidson at American Heritage Publishing Co., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020. Please send a copy of any irreplaceable material, include return postage, and do not mail glass negatives. AMERICAN HERITAGE will pay $50.00 for each one that is run.