Here is a list of all the biggest moments in the history of 1950s television, ranging from the premieres of classic shows, to historical game changers, to the debuts of popular characters to fun facts.


  • One million homes in the U.S. own a television set.
  • The first pay-per-view television service, Phonevision, becomes available.
  • Whats My Line? on CBS premieres. It is the longest-running primetime network television game show in the U.S. Ran on the network for 17 years.
  • Your Show of Shows premieres on NBC. Before Saturday Night Live, this live 90-minute variety show starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca was the lift-off point for talented comedians.
  • Steve Allen makes his television debut on The Steve Allen Show on CBS.
  • Jay Ward’s Crusader Rabbit premieres in syndication as the first animated series created specifically for television.
  • Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz form Desilu Productions.


  • President Truman’s speech in San Francisco at the Japanese Peace Treaty conference is broadcast on all networks as the first coast-to-coast telecast.
  • I Love Lucy premieres on CBS. The first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience.
  • See It Now on CBS is the first news documentary and first live coast-to-coast commercial broadcast. Also the first broadcast to use a split screen to show two different locations at the same time, in this case, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • DuMont airs the first network coverage of an NFL championship game.
  • The CBS Eye logo is introduced.
  • Mr. Wizard makes his television debut in Watch Mr. Wizard on NBC.


  • Dragnet on NBC is television’s first crime drama.
  • CBS airs the first live coverage of a horse race at the Kentucky Derby.
  • First coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions airs on all networks.
  • The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet premieres on ABC. Lasts until 1966.
  • The Ernie Kovacs Show premieres on CBS.
  • The Today Show (Today) premieres on NBC.
  • The Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade is televised for the first time on CBS.


  • Color television broadcast is introduced.
  • The Oscars are televised for the first time on NBC. Bob Hope hosts.
  • The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II airs on NBC and CBS.


  • Miss America beauty pageant makes its television debut on ABC.
  • Lassie premieres on CBS.
  • Telemundo is launched.
  • Medic on NBC is the first medical drama on television.
  • The Tonight Show (Tonight) premieres on NBC with host Steve Allen.
  • Father Knows Best premieres on CBS.


  • The Emmys are televised for the first time on NBC. Steve Allen hosts.
  • The $64,000 Question on CBS is the first of the big money quiz shows.
  • The Lawrence Welk Show premieres on ABC and lasts until 1971.
  • Gunsmoke premieres on CBS and lasts until 1975.
  • The Phil Silvers Show (Youll Never Get Rich) premieres on CBS.
  • The Honeymooners premieres on CBS. The concept of the show was first seen on Jackie Gleason’s Cavalcade of Stars, where Pert Kelton played Alice instead of Audrey Meadows.
  • Muppets make their television debut in Jim Henson’s Sam and Friends.
  • The Mighty Mouse Playhouse on CBS is the first saturday morning cartoon.
  • Captain Kangaroo makes his television debut on CBS.
  • The Mickey Mouse Club debuts on ABC.
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents premieres on CBS.


  • Video tape is invented.
  • Elvis Presley introduces rock and roll to millions on The Ed Sullivan Show.
  • The Price is Right premieres on NBC with host Bill Cullen.
  • Playhouse 90 runs on CBS until 1960.
  • DuMont has its final telecast before going under.
  • The color NBC peacock logo is introduced.


  • Perry Mason premieres on CBS.
  • Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS.
  • American Bandstand premieres on ABC with host Dick Clark.


  • Many quiz shows, including The $64,000 Question, go off the air amidst the scandal of quiz show rigging.


  • Crime drama The Untouchables premieres on ABC.
  • Western drama Rawhide premieres on CBS.
  • Bonanza premieres on NBC and is the first color TV western. Lasts until 1973.
  • Rod Serling’s science fiction anthology The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1964.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle make their television debut in Rocky and His Friends on ABC.
  • The Grammys are televised for the first time on ABC. Mort Sahl hosts.