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Prices of television receivers

The price of a television receiver (cathode ray tube version) when the BBC Television service was launched in 1936 was anything up to 100 as it had been since Marconi introduced a set at 95 guineas (gns) in February 1935.. Prices of luxury goods were frequently given in guineas, one guinea being 21 shillings (1.05)—which made the guinea rather a posh unit of currency (for which there was no longer an actual coin or note). So the initial pricing point gave 25p change from 100. In January 1935, the Selsdon Committee had proposed that the target price for receivers should be 50, which was roughly equivalent to 14 times the average manual worker's weekly wage.

By early in 1937 prices had already fallen by as much as 40 per cent, although the drop in prices by spring 1938 were even greater and it was possible to buy a 10-inch set for 21 gns (22.05). Prices never went lower before the service was suspended on 1 September 1939, when the estimated 20,000-25,000 sets in use at that date became redundant for the duration.

Price ranges of cathode ray tube television receivers in the UK
TV prices

Source: David Fisher, Terra Media

In 1947, the average cost of a receiver in the US—where television has been operating for over five years—is $279, equivalent to about 70.

In 1931 it has been possible to buy a do-it-yourself kit to build a basic Baird Televisor (without casing) for 7 12s 6d (7.63).

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Page updated 8 April 2007
David Fisher