A technician came out to fix our TV last week. He attached a gizmo to the whatchamacallit that plugs into the back of the set. Then he plugged in a doodad with a dial on it, made some adjustments, unplugged everything and left.
Most TV sets back in the dark ages of my youth were black and white.
The good news was, you could fix them yourself. Remove the vacuum tubes, trot down to the hardware store, check them out on a handy testing machine, replace the bad ones, and, voila, we were back in business.
The tough part was adjusting the antenna. The early sets called for installing a spidery network of tubing on the roof, and then turning it a fraction of an inch at a time while someone down below monitored the picture and called out directions. The biggest risk here was falling off the roof.
A more sophisticated version had an electric motor that turned the antenna from the comfort of your living room. This was a major improvement since every TV station had its own antenna setting. If you didn’t have the motor-mounted version, you had to be satisfied with setting reception for the station you watched the most, and then enduring the others through static and snow.
The solution to that came a few years later with rabbit ears, a whippy system of metal rods that attached to the back of the set. As you switched channels, you adjusted the rabbit ears. For weak signals, you added aluminum foil to the rods which extended their reach.
It was a kind of audience participation style of entertainment back then. We controlled our own destiny.
Nowadays, we just call for a guy with a gizmo and a doodad. Of course, we don’t fall off the roof anymore, either.