Mental Floss

6 Television Firsts (from Canned Laughter to Dropping the "D" Word)

Kara Kovalchik
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TV has been so ingrained into our culture for the past few decades that we tend to forget that every little detail of the medium was an innovation at one time. Here is a look at some television "firsts."

1. The First D-Bomb

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2. The First "Eyewitness News"

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3. The First Credit Squeeze

Once upon a time, when a TV show ended the credits scrolled by much like they do in a movie theater. They filled the screen and moved at a pace that allowed the average viewer to find out who played "Girl in Swimming Pool." By the early 1990s, however, commercial-free cable TV was commonplace, and satellite packages were also infringing on a very tight and competitive market. Networks had to find a way to promote themselves without cutting more time out of their prime time shows for commercials. The logical spot ended up being the closing credits of a show. NBC launched the trend in 1994, when they started showing the closing credit scroll in a split-screen format, with the right half of the screen filled with station promos and snippets of upcoming programs. Of course, the Peacock Network didn't want viewers to think of this as additional advertising, so they promoted it as a "seamless transition" from one show to the next.

4. The First Canned Laughter

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5. The First Commercial

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6. The First "Bug"

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