Exploring the History of the Magnavox Brand

Event Wrap-Up: Lunch & Learn, Dec. 3, 2015

George Collins and Magnavox presentation slide

Last Thursday, George Collins, of The Magnavox Historical Preservation Association and curator of the current exhibit at Reece Museum entitled “Magnificent Magnavox,” spoke to us about the history of the Magnavox brand and its connection to Northeast Tennessee. If you were unable to attend the event, here are just a few of the interesting facts Mr. Collins shared with us about the Magnavox brand, as well as some snapshots from the exhibit (there’s still time to catch the exhibit, which runs until Dec. 15, 2015):

  • Magnavox is Latin for “great voice.”
  • At its peak, Magnavox was the fifth largest employer in Tennessee, employing over 500 people in the Greeneville manufacturing operations alone.
  • During WWII, Magnavox launched an ad campaign featuring artwork. They made this artwork available for purchase to consumers, believing there should be music and culture in every home. In order to receive the artwork, you simply clip the order form out of the ad, send it in, and then Magnavox would send you a copy of the artwork.
    Magnavox art
  • In the 1950s, movie stars’ contracts prevented them from being on television. However, Magnavox’s lawyers discovered the contracts did not prevent them from being in ads for televisions. The company used celebrities in their print ads and also featured them on the televisions pictured in the ads.
  • In the 1960s Magnavox began utilizing product placement with a portable TV on Gilligan’s Island.
  • In the 1970s:
    • Magnavox introduced Odyssey, the first home video gaming system in the country. (introduced in 1972)
    • Frank Sinatra became a spokesperson and released a limited edition Magnavox record.
    • Hank Aaron also became a spokesperson.

Interested in learning more about Magnavox?
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Magnavox, visit www.magnavoxhistory.com. Follow The Magnavox Historical Preservation Association on Facebook for up to date information and photos from the “Magnificent Magnavox” exhibit.

Magnavox television

inside a Magnavox

Magnavox television

Magnavox televisions

Magnavox Odyssey gaming system

Odyssey, the first home video gaming system in the country.