• "A Farm Family Listening to Their Radio," 1926. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

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    A Farm Family Listening to Their Radio, 1926.
    • Creator
    • Department of Agriculture. Extension Service. (06/17/1981 - 1995)
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration

  • "For pulse-stirring phythms tune to South America!" from Philco radio atlas of the world, 1935. Courtesy David Rumsey.

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    "For pulse-stirring phythms tune to South America!" from Philco radio atlas of the world"," 1935."
    • Date
    • 1935
    • Creator
    • Philco Radio & Television Corp; J.W. Clement Co
    • Description
    • Photos and stories of South American broadcasts. Text on pages 12,13, continued on page 16. Includes advertisement.. Atlas in 32 pages. With 7 color maps: copyright by J.W. Clement Co. Matthews-Northrup Works, Buffalo, N.Y. Includes table of contents... more
      Photos and stories of South American broadcasts. Text on pages 12,13, continued on page 16. Includes advertisement.. Atlas in 32 pages. With 7 color maps: copyright by J.W. Clement Co. Matthews-Northrup Works, Buffalo, N.Y. Includes table of contents, text, advertisements, and illustrations. Also includes World-Wide airline mileage chart, and tables showing "principal Short - wave stations of the World", and "North American Long - wave stations." On verso of cover title: "This Radio atlas is presented to by St. Helens Radio & Elec. co. Columbia, Co. Bank Building". Note: "With a new 1936 American and Foreign Broadcast Phico, you are on the threshold of thrilling adventure and glorious entertainment less
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
    • Partner
    • David Rumsey

  • "The A B C of radio so that the average listener may understand how it works in America," 1938. Courtesy University of Wisconsin, via HathiTrust.

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    "The A B C of radio so that the average listener may understand how it works in America," 1938.
    • Date
    • Created Date
      c1938
    • Creator
    • National Association of Broadcasters. cn
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
      University of Wisconsin
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Wisconsin.

  • "Ritt's Music Store, St. Peter, Minnesota," 1912. Courtesy Nicollet County Historical Society, via Minnesota Digital Library.

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    "Ritt's Music Store, St. Peter, Minnesota," 1912.
    • Date
    • 1912?
    • Description
    • This Ritt family music store in St. Peter was located at 500 South Minnesota Avenue. The image shows a variety of record players and records among an assortment of posters on the walls. A poster dated February 1912 lists Edison Records. Automobile su... more
      This Ritt family music store in St. Peter was located at 500 South Minnesota Avenue. The image shows a variety of record players and records among an assortment of posters on the walls. A poster dated February 1912 lists Edison Records. Automobile supplies and sporting goods were also sold in the store. less
    • Rights
    • This image may not be reproduced for any reason without the express written permission of the Nicollet County Historical Society.
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
      Nicollet County Historical Society

Once Fessenden’s initial broadcasts proved that sound could be transmitted via radio, technology advanced quickly—as did demand. The initial voice transmissions were often erratic and weak, and Fessenden couldn’t find buyers for his new technology. Spurred by the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, he moved on to a more lucrative business in inventing iceberg-detecting technology. Other scientists were fast to pick up where he left off, however.

By 1907, scientists had successfully amplified radio signals. FM (frequency modulation) broadcasts came along more than a decade later, providing a clearer signal than AM (amplitude modulation) stations (though RCA, then in the early stages of developing the television set, kept FM technology to the back burner until the 1940s).

With clearer signals that spanned longer distances came a demand from the public for new radio programming. The first entertainment broadcasts appeared in the 1910s, coinciding with the development and commercialization of the phonograph. Now, people could hear music on the radio and then buy recordings of it for their at-home phonographs, as they would do with their record players in the 1950s. Formal newscasts began a decade later. By the 1920s, America entered what came to be known as the "Golden Age of Radio," which spanned until the 1950s and the advent of the at-home TV set. It was a time when many television genres we enjoy today found their start as radio staples: soap operas, game shows, variety acts, and mysteries. Millions of Americans tuned in.