The Sixties: The Times They Are a-Changin'

America Becomes a TV Nation

The Black and White Box

In the early 1960s, seven out of eight American households watched television each evening. Viewers peered through the "snow" and adjusted rabbit ears for better reception. But television technology improved. In 1963, the first home videotape recorder went on sale.for $30,000! Color TV had been introduced, but there was little color programming. In 1967, most networks upgraded to "in living color" and by then, Americans could access 11 different channels!

Photograph of The Sixties exhibit.

TV Programming Branches Out

Westerns, sitcoms and comedies remained popular, but new choices offered action, intrigue, supernatural themes, and science fiction. Thrills abounded in Mission Impossible, I Spy, and The Wild Wild West. New frontiers were created by Bewitched, The Addams Family, My Favorite Martian, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek . TV also reflected the controversies swirling around America . Shows such as Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, The Smothers Brothers, and Peyton Place shocked the nation.

 

Professional Sports Capture America

Sports Fans Enjoy Year-round Entertainment

Professional sports gained universal popularity through televised seasons of baseball, football, and basketball. Baseball fell to football in national popularity as the upstart AFL challenged the NFL. The NBA grew from eight teams to 17. TV broadcasts featured championship boxing, hockey, golf, tennis, and more.

Photograph of The Sixties exhibit.

Nation Thrills to Superstar Action

Athletes became superstars in the 1960s! Baseball stars included Brooks Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and Willie Mays. Football's forces included Jim Brown and Joe Namath. Basketball's Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game, and soon the NBA welcomed Walt Frazier and Lew Alcindor (a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Shining in golf and tennis were Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King. 1968 Winter Olympics figure skater Peggy Fleming became " America 's darling."

But the most celebrated athlete of the decade was boxer Cassius Clay (a.k.a. Muhammad Ali), who grabbed the heavyweight crown from Sonny Liston in 1964, boasting "I am the greatest!"

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