Decades early

Staff Writer
25 Sep 2009

"The theater is moving into the home and nothing can stop it." - Zenith Radio's President Eugene F. McDonald Jr.,1951.

Fifty-eight years ago Zenith Radio started a trial service to 300 Chicago homes - movies coming to your television set through your phone line.

Phonevision allowed homeowners to order movies for $1 each that were unscrambled by a gadget attached to both television and phone.

As reported by Time Magazine in 1951 the test involved 90 films from the last four years. They were shown in rotation at 4, 7 and 9 pm.

This was not exactly movies on demand but still impressive. McDonald expected the business to be flourishing two years from inception.

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