My First TV, RCA Model 21-S-503 (1954)

Can you remember your first television? This was my family's original set. That's me on the left with my trusty straw cowboy hat. Next to me is my older sister, holding a favorite doll.

The TV is an RCA, probably model 21-S-503N. It had a 21-inch picture tube and came in a black metal cabinet with matching stand.

The locale is my home town of New London, MN, and the year is probably 1955. The TV was undoubtedly purchased from Irv Kalevik, proprietor of Irv's Radio and TV, the only such outfit in town.

This set got a lot of use. It was our only TV until at least 1969, when I graduated from high school. I don't recall Irv coming out to repair it very often, although I imagine he replaced a tube from time to time

RCA sold a lot of these 21-inch TVs in metal cabinets. Here is a page from a company brochure of the day.

I have no idea what happened to the original set. Most likely, it was traded in when my parents finally purchased a color TV.

It's fun to recall all of shows we watched, everything from Bonanza and Saturday Night at the Movies, to the first Moon landing.

As testimony to the durability of these sets, a friend of mine bought one in the early 1980s, when the TV would have been about 30 years old. I helped her bring it home—these sets are heavy—and the TV worked perfectly.

Perhaps some day I'll find one of these televisions and restore it for old time's sake. But first, I would have to make some room in our crowded house to keep it!

©1995-2017 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved