The Tiny Television Sets Of Russia


In the 1950s, the Soviets had a voracious appetite for television, but not enough money to buy a decent size set. A new television during that time cost anywhere from $12 to $35, which was several times the average monthly salary of even the urban professionals. A Soviet family willing and able to spend that kind of money usually bought a television with a screen no bigger than the size of a post card. The manufacturer would affix a magnifying glass to the screen to enlarge the images and elevate the viewing experience. For the same sum of money, the family could have bought household appliances that would have significantly improved their lives, but chose television sets despite their cost, their reputation for breaking down, and the low quality of programming available at the time. The government loved getting the masses hooked on TV because it provided them with a tremendously powerful medium to spread propaganda. In 1959, when the government increased the prices of luxury consumer goods, not only were television sets excluded, but the prices were even lowered. Two years later, the government abolished the license fees that television owners had to pay just for possessing a set and receiving television broadcasts. By 1970, roughly 25 million households in the USSR had television sets.