Today, we're busy worrying about whose 3DTV is the largest, but the actual watching part of TV hasn't changed much over the past half a century or so. LIFE serves up a historical gallery of staring at the glowing screen.
The gallery spans a variety of scenes, capturing TV's ability to pull a hell of a lot of emotions out of us—grief, hilarity, shock. Here, we see Joan Aldrin's reaction as she watches the safe return of her legendary husband Buzz Aldrin, along with the equally legendary Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.
But what's on TV isn't always so euphoric, as seen through this image of a stoic LBJ channel surfing during the 1960 Democratic National Convention. An activity still a decent way to unwind a bit—though most of us probably don't have the same worries winding our nerves.
Speaking of wound nerves, perhaps my favorite photograph is this almost haunting scene of RCA executives watching a TV in 1939, before it had been introduced to the public. It's a bare scene, but you can read it all almost just from the back of their heads—are people really going to want to watch this new invention, this tiny screen, instead of listening to radio? Suffice it to say their tension was short lived. [LIFE]