The first iTV program was broadcasted in the United States by CBS and was first transmitted on Saturday, October 10th, 1953. It was a black and white first program of a children’s series called Winky Dink and You, in which a cartoon character named Winky Dink went on dangerous adventures (Lu, 2005). During the show, children would place a sheet of plastic over the TV screen and draw a bridge or a rope in order to save Winky Dink from danger. At the end of the show, children would also be able to trace letters at the bottom of the screen in order to read the secret messages broadcasted. It was a success that lasted 4 years (Jaaskelainen, 2000; Lu, 2005).
In 1957, the first wireless remote control, proposed by Dr. Robert Adler, from Zenith, and known as “Zenith Space Command,” started being commercialized (Lu, 2005; Zenith, 2006).
From the 1960s milestones of interactivity, the following three are the most important. First, the AT&T Company’s demonstration of a picture telephone at the New York World Fair in 1964 (Jaaskelainen, 2000; Rowe, 2004). Second, the “interactive movie,” Lanterna Magica, which was produced in Czechoslovakia and shown to the public in the Czech Pavilion at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal, Canada (Jaaskelainen, 2000; Laurel, 1991). Third, the realization, by Marshall McLuhan, that television was a “cool participant medium” and thus interactivity should be pursuit (McLuhan, 1964). In the late sixties, Lester Wunderman launched a television advertisement which included a free telephone number. It was the first time that telephone was used as a return channel for iTV (Jaaskelainen, 2000).
In 1972, Cable Television expanded with all its potential providing more than 75 channels, allowing the use of set-top boxes (STB), and making the remote control viewers’ best friend (Lu, 2005). Three years later, with the launch of Home Box Office (HBO), a premium cable television network, the satellite distribution became viable. On December 13, 1975, HBO became the first TV network to broadcast its signals via satellite when it showed the boxing match “Thrilla in Manila” (HBO, 2006).
In 1977, Warner Amex Company launched its cable iTV service via a famous trial/system called QUBE (Jaaskelainen, 2000). However, because the benefits were not enough to justify the enormous equipment cost, the system was dropped (Laurel, 1991; Lu, 2005).