Television has the power to make us laugh, cry, and think. Television is there for us at the end of a long, stressful day. Television is our friend. But how much do we really know about it? With the rise of streaming services like Netflix, and better and better quality programming, we are consuming television like never before. We might think that television no longer has the power to surprise us, but here are some crazy facts that will bathe your humble TV in a whole new glow.
The First TV Actor Was Really Badly Paid
With an invention as cool as television, it would come as no surprise that more than a couple of people lay claim to having created it. It wasn’t ever the work of a single person, though. In their way, many inventors and tinkerers played a part in what was soon a global phenomenon. But there was only one first actor, and it was a kid called William Taynton.
How did he manage to be our first TV star? Simple: he was in the right place at the right time. Taynton was just the office lackey for John Logie Baird, who made history with the first transmission of a moving human face on the 30th of October, 1925. He had tried using a ventriloquist’s dummy first (which was undoubtedly way too creepy) before roping in Taynton to do the job. Taynton was paid a measly two and a half shillings for being part of history. I doubt he gave up his day job.
John F. Kennedy Cost Broadcasters $100m
It’s easy to say that the Trump and Clinton election circus has invaded our screens like never before, but that’s not quite true. Many big events – sporting, political, news, and The Bachelor – have taken a tight grip on America’s psyche, and all of them have made the big networks even bigger bucks. So in the feverish wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, after the event that defined a generation, how on earth did the nation’s broadcasters lose 100 million dollars?
The answer is actually fairly simple: they didn’t make a single advertising dollar. In rare display of tact, for four days after JFK’s death every network decided to broadcast their coverage commercial-free. A staggering 93% of American homes tuned in at some point to watch the funeral and investigative proceedings, and the revenue they could have made from such ratings would have been incredible. It’s a testament to a dying, far more sensitive brand of journalism.
Theres A Lot of Violence. And We Really Mean A Lot
Really, there’s a lot of violence on TV. There’s murders and assaults and kidnappings and torture and robberies. There’s death by stabbing, by strangling, by drowning, by falling, by shooting, by car accident, and by animal attack. Are you tired yet? If you are, you’re in the minority.
Man still has an unhealthy relationship – and preoccupation – with violence. Let’s look at the stats: by the age of 14, the average American kid has seen somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 deaths on television. By the time they reach 18, the number rises almost exponentially to around 200,000. That’s a heck of a lot. We haven’t seen the numbers on TV kisses and TV flower-giving, but we’re willing to bet they’re far lower.
Thursdays Were Really Boring In Iceland
After a busy day at the office, there’s nothing better than unwinding in front of the tube and putting on something mindless (then switching to The Bachelor). Spare a thought for our Icelandic brothers, though. Most days of the week, sure, they could ski home quickly and catch “Idol Stjörnuleit” before whipping up a seal casserole. But until 1987, there was absolutely no TV on Thursdays. Even worse, until 1981 there was no TV at all during the entire month of July.
The reasons for basically grounding an entire nation are unclear. What is known is that RUV, the national broadcaster, held a monopoly on transmissions until 1986 and only lifted the Thursday ban when faced with stiff competition. It’s thought that it was more or less an incentive for Icelanders to go out and get some fresh, arctic air. But we all know that TV is our way of avoiding nagging parents in the first place.
The First Remote Control Was Useless
Remote controls are truly the greatest curse ever placed on our modern lives. Either they’re running out of battery, or getting lost down the back of the couch, or multiplying like rabbits behind your back, or they have so many buttons that turning the volume down requires a degree in nuclear astrophysics. So-called “universal” remotes are just as bad – one false move and you’ve accidentally powered up your lawnmower and ordered six pizzas.
But spare a thought for the early adopters of the first ever remote control, known as the “Tele Zoom” and invented in 1948. It certainly was easy to operate, and it certainly was simple, but that’s because it did only one thing. There was no volume control, no channel control, and certainly not a power button - all it could do was enlarge a portion of the TV screen. But if you wanted a grainy close-up of Ed Sullivan’s nose, then you were in luck!
You Could Advertise For $9
Guess how much a 30 second advertising slot during the 2016 Super Bowl cost. Go on, have a guess. We’ll give you a clue: it has six zeroes after it, and it would take an average Malawian almost 20,000 years to earn the same amount. The answer is, of course, a sickening amount of money. Isn't it insane how the times of changed?
But way back before the advertising industry cottoned on to the possibilities of TV, and a decade before Mad Men, it was pretty damn cheap. The first ever advertisement, also shown during a sports game (July 1, 1941, Dodgers vs Phillies, Phillies romped home) cost Bulova Clocks a paltry $9 – about $150 in today’s dollars. Bulova is still ticking today, so it was money well spent.
Its Clogging Up Our Planet
For all the talk of violence on TV and its negative impact, a far more serious problem is often overlooked. As of 2016, there were an estimated 116 million TVs in America alone. And with bigger and bigger sets, and higher and higher definition, people today are upgrading all the time. We don’t often think about it, but what happens to our old TV sets?
In a study published in 2007, researchers found that only 18 percent of unloved televisions were recycled. The other 82% (an incredible 20 million sets) were simply thrown away. Electronic equipment contains a number of harmful waste elements, including CFC, PVC, heavy metals, and even radioactive matter. Televisions are no different. When electronic equipment goes into landfill, not only does it take up massive amounts of space, but it is also poisoning the soil and the Earth’s ecosystem. At the risk of sounding like hippies here, maaan, take it from us: recycle your old televisions.
It Affects How You Dream
There’s no doubt of the all-pervading power of TV. Wherever we go in life, all of the shows and movies that we’ve seen influence our way of thinking, and the way we approach day-to-day situations. We know it can be a negative, and we’ve seen that it can be a negative, too. But did you know it can also – disturbingly – change the way you dream?
Several studies throughout the 1900s had found, bafflingly, that people born before 1960 tended to dream in black and white, while the younger amongst us dreamed in full color. While scientists scratched their heads at the findings, a British university student made a single astonishing link. The age of those dreaming in black and white exactly matched the prevalence of black and white TV sets during their childhood. In short, watching black and white TV made them dream in black and white. There haven’t yet been any studies to show whether millennials dream of Game of Thrones, but we’re willing to bet heavily on yes.
One of The First Stations in The World is Still Operating
If you’re ever in the Albany area of New York, flick on the television and switch to CBS6. No matter what program is airing, you’ve just witnessed a piece of TV history. What seems like a regular regional broadcaster is in fact WRGB, the oldest continuously operating TV station in the world.
Starting out as an experimental broadcast in 1928 and running out of a General Electric facility in nearby Shenectady, the station first known as W2XB began airing regular programs within a year. When it moved to a new building in 1941 in Washington Avenue, it received another honor: using the first building in America specially designed for television. Nowadays it’s just another channel amongst the 100s available nationwide, but way back then it was there at the birth of something truly special.
Its Actually Good For You
Scientists are humans too. They watch a lot of TV, and sometimes they feel pretty guilty about it. The advantage that scientists have, though, is that with a few studies and an experiment here and there, they can make themselves feel better about anything. Take TV, for example – they’ve gone ahead and proven without a doubt that it’s actually good for you.
But how? Well, there’s four ways (I guess quite a lot of scientists watch TV). First, a study by the University of Rochester proved that watching TV (nature shows, to be exact) makes people feel more energetic, and more generous, too. The second thing the University of Rochester found was that it physically lowered blood pressure in those who watched it. Thirdly, scientists found that the background noise of the TV boosted creativity levels. And finally – and most importantly – another study showed that watching the tube actually improved peoples love lives. As a matter of fact, couples with TV sets in their bedrooms have more sex than the rest of us. Well, we're off to the shops.
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It's likely that the women in your day to day life are pretty "normal" in appearance. So when you see someone whose appearance differs from what you expect it to be, it can be kind of a shock. The ladies in the following slideshow are definitely far from average. Some of these women spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery, tattoos, or body piercings. Others are born with strange birth defects such as excessive facial hair, a gigantic butt or even an 8 inch tongue. See for yourself!
Lauren Williams: 4 Foot Long Legs
Lauren Williams has the longest-known legs in the United States, with her eye-catching limbs measuring an incredible 49 inches from hip to heel. Lauren's height and long-legged genes can be attributed to her family as her father, mother and twin sisters are all 6ft or taller.
She has US size 11 feet (UK size 10), and revealed that she can find it tricky to buy clothes that fit. When modelling, single Lauren - who has worked on campaigns for global brands such as Nike - does everything from sports and fitness to high fashion and swimwear.
Having played volleyball in college, as well as being extremely active, Lauren also enjoys shooting sporty campaigns. As well as modelling, Lauren works as an educator at a children's museum in Houston and enjoys travelling. When out and about, her striking looks and long limbs mean she gets comments about her legs on a daily basis.
Pixee Fox: Dangerously Small Waist
Swedish born Pixee Fox had already spent more than $80,000 on plastic surgery attempting to sculpt the perfect hourglass figure. But now she has taken her obsession even further by having 6 of her lower ribs removed - so she can shrink her waist to a record-breaking 14 inches. Pixee, from Sweden, said: "People often come up to me and say, "don't take this the wrong way, but you look like a cartoon" - but for me that's a compliment, that's what I want to achieve.
With 6 of her lower ribs removed, Pixee's lower internal organs, including the liver, have lost some of their natural protection - but she isn't worried. She said: "Before if I was in a car crash I would normally break my ribs. If that happened now I'm probably going to break my spleen instead. In total she has had four rhinoplasties costing $14,000; four breast augmentations of 200cc, 525cc, 800cc and 1400cc costing $28,500; two rounds of liposuction at $5,000; two upper eyelid surgeries at $6,000; a labiaplasty costing $4,000; a Brazilian butt lift at $9,000 and cool-sculpting, cheek injections, and lip injections at about $12,000.
Bethany Hamilton: One Armed Pro Surfer
Bethany Meilani Hamilton-Dirks is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off, but ultimately returned to-and was victorious in-professional surfing. On October 31, 2003 Hamilton, aged 13 at the time, went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai, with best friend Alana Blanchard, Alana's father, Holt, and brother Byron. Around 7:30 a.m., with numerous turtles in the area, she was lying on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water, when a 14-foot tiger shark attacked her, severing her left arm just below the shoulder.
Despite the trauma of the incident, Hamilton was determined to return to surfing. Three weeks after the incident, she returned to her board. Initially, she adopted a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle, and she learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. After teaching herself to surf with one arm, on January 10, 2004, she entered a major competition. She now uses standard competitive performance short-boards. The broken surfboard that Hamilton was riding during the attack is on display at the California Surf Museum
Mayra Hills: World's Largest Fake Breasts
Mayra Hills - also known as Beshine - measures at 59-28-36 and says she's the proud owner of the world's largest fake breasts. And it's not hard to believe her claim to fame, considering each of her breasts have 10,000 cc of saline implants and weigh 20 pounds a piece! As you can imagine, it's difficult for Beshine, who wears a size 32Z bra, to find clothes that fit, so the German-born woman has a lot of her items custom-made.
But bra shopping isn't her only woe. She can no longer tie her own shoes and has run into trouble when she's knocked things over with her chest - but it appears she's satisfied with her body, troubles and all. "Some people maybe think the sheer size of my t-ts bring too many handicaps in my everyday life, but hey, having big boob problems is amazing," she wrote on her blog.
Anastasiya Shpagina: Real Life Anime Girl
It's official, this real-life anime trend has gotten completely out of hand. Hardly a day goes by that we don't stumble upon some photos of girls going to any lengths in order to look like real live anime characters. Today's example, Anastasiya Shpagina, an Ukrainian girl who has even taken a Japanese name - Fukkacumi. 19-year-old Anastasiya (Nastya) Shpagina has been called "the new Barbie" by national news outlets, but she later revealed she's striving to become a real-life Japanese anime character, not a doll. She even posted "I am not like a doll, a doll is like me."
Apparently, Nastya has been passionate about makeup even as a young child, always experimenting with it in the mirror. Over time she also developed a thing for Japanese cartoons and it was only a matter of time before she started using her make-up artist skills to transform herself into a real-life anime girl. But just putting on makeup wasn't enough to attain that coveted look, so she decided to lose weight in order to seem more genuine. At 1.58-meters-tall, Anastasiya weighs just 39 kilos and is trying to lose one more in order to look just right.
Chanel Tapper: World's Longest Tongue
The longest female tongue measures 9.75 cm (3.8 in) from the tip to the middle of lip and was achieved by Chanel Tappe on 29 September 2010. Chanel, from Houston, US, shot to fame aged 13 when she was spotted sticking out her monster tongue in a YouTube video. In September Guinness invited Chanel to Los Angeles where they measured her tongue and she narrowly beat two other female contenders to the record.
She said: "I have always been silly and goofy. I love sticking my tongue out at people. I started doing that back in school. I've never had a problem with having a long tongue, it's just fun." Chanel now has set her sights set on Hollywood after finishing her studies. She said: "I'd love to be in a movie. I'm certainly pretty dramatic, so I think I could have the acting gift. "Really, I'd love to meet Adam Sandler, he's my favorite."
Sarah Massey: World's Largest Butt
Sarah Massey would be just another 33-year-old mother-of-two from Chicago - if it weren't for the fact that she also happens to have the world's biggest butt. Though not officially recognized by the prudes at Guinness, Massey's massive 7-foot wide keister requires a pair of 10XL trousers that would comfortably fit all of the Kardashian sisters combined.
Massey insists the condition that resulted in her museum-sized bubble butt is hereditary - "there's nothing I can do about it," she says - but that her love of ice cream certainly contributed to its maintenance. Massey would still like to lose some weight, but says she now has a new-found appreciation for her natural assets, and fervently defends them against anyone who calls them fake. "Some people can't believe one person can have this much butt," she told Barcroft. "Because I've got a relatively small frame on top they say, 'that can't be real.' I carry this weight with me all the time, everywhere I go, it's definitely not fake. Big booties are just in my blood."
Zlata: Extreme Flexibility
Russian-born former gymnast Zlata, 29, posed in leather and lingerie to adopt a series of poses that seem to defy every law of biology. Zlata, who now lives in Germany, is able to create astounding shapes with her body and is so flexible she can cram herself into a 50cm square box. One of her favorite acts is to bend backwards at a 90 degree angle, so the back half of her hands touch her feet and she can also peer through her own legs from behind.
Zlata's gift of flexibility was discovered when she was four years old and by six she was training as a contortionist at a circus school. She has a rare condition which makes all her tendons extremely pliable, which helps in her profession. The former gymnast now spends most of her day working out and training for shows around the world. In 2011 she set the Guinness World Record for the most beer bottles opened in a minute using only your feet.
Kim Goodman: Eyeball Protrusion
Kim Goodman is a woman who is able to pop her eyes out of her eye sockets by 12 millimeters (0.47 inches). She holds the world record for the farthest eyeball protrusion. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. She discovered her eyeball popping talent one day when she was hit on the head with a hockey mask. Her eyeballs popped out much further than usual and ever since that day she could pop them out on cue, as well as when she yawns.
She has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. In 2004, Goodman was included by Guinness World Records in their 50th anniversary list of top ten "feats" of all time. Kim originally had the record for being able to extend her eye balls beyond her eye sockets by 10mm. This was matched a few years by a new contender, but when Kim was re-measured she found she could now reach 12mm - breaking her own record and keeping the title.
Natalia Partyka: One Armed Table Tennis Champ
Natalia Partyka (born 27 July 1989) is a Polish table tennis player. Born without a right hand and forearm, she participates in competitions for able-bodied athletes as well as in competitions for athletes with disabilities. Partyka reached the last 32 of the London 2012 Olympic women's table tennis. Partyka began playing table tennis at the age of seven. She won her first international table tennis medal in 1999 at the disabled World Championships. At the age of 11, she competed at the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, becoming the world's youngest ever Paralympian. In 2004, she won a gold medal in the singles event and silver in the team event at the Athens Paralympics.
Partyka competed for Poland both the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing - one of only two athletes to do so, the other being Natalie du Toit in swimming. They were her third Paralympic Games, and her first Olympics. Competing in class 10 at the Beijing Paralympics, she won gold by defeating China's Fan Lei by three sets to nil. In 2008, she won a gold medal in the singles event and a silver in the team event at the Beijing Paralympics, repeating her Athens Paralympics result.