Today we can watch what we want, when we want it, in our loungeroom or on the train. But older generations remember the ‘arrival’ of television as a truly momentous event.

At 7pm, 4 November 1956, television was ‘turned on’ in Melbourne. The lucky few who owned a TV held private parties. Nearly 300 people had to be turned away from the packed Prahran Town Hall where a dozen TV sets had been lined up on the stage.

The introduction of television had an enormous impact on the home and family leisure habits. People began to eat in the living room, creating a market for TV dinners, TV trays and unbreakable plastic crockery. New sofas and chairs were especially designed for ‘televiewing’. One third of Melbourne’s cinemas had closed by 1959, with families preferring to be entertained at home.

Speculation on its effects ran high. Some feared that the introduction of television would ‘Americanise’ Australian culture. Others declared that it would destroy domestic intimacy and adversely impact children, ‘becoming as habit-forming as any popular dope-craze.’ But families loved it. In 1956 only 5 per cent of Melburnians owned a TV. By the mid-1960s more than 80 per cent of Melbourne homes had television sets. The new medium was here to stay.