Saturday, September 24, 2011

The CBS Eye

I love TV history. You probably know that just from my NBC "N" post earlier this month. Each network has its own distinctive brand. CBS was known as the "Tiffany" network because its shows tended to be classy. Those were the days when one man owned the network -- William S. Paley -- and the network reflected his tastes.

CBS also had a distinctive and elegant logo -- the Eye. That's been the lone signature for CBS your entire life I'm guesssing. Well, did you ever wonder how it came to be? And when? And why?

Here's the history of the CBS Eye.

20 comments:

Mike Barer said...

That is a neat story, I remember the old NBC logo with the C under the N and B. ABC was a little behind the curve with letters inside a black ball. I always enjoyed ABC because it had children's programming (consistant with it's simple letters ABC). I had always wondered why CBS was a "System" instead of "Company" like NBC and ABC, it may have something to do with the fact that ABC was spun off from NBC. I had learned in school that NBC at one time had a "Red" netword and a "Blue" and one of them was spun off to make ABC. Anyway, enjoyed the story, Ken!

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

It was cool when I got my first CBS paycheck and cashed it at my local grocery store where I had worked the summer before. The checker chick thought I "made it." I did. Unfortunately, it wasn't with her...

chris mcdermott said...

I'm doubting the Shakers are getting any residuals...

Anonymous said...

If i did not work for NBC (whose peacock logo is better anyways), I would wear that CBS eye logo tie to work every day.

Doug said...

Did anyone else think that was Dick van Dyke narrating until the final shot?

Personally I was hoping to hear about a little more boardroom drama, with tempers flaring, and designers falling on their own swords over the design of the future....

That was a disappointingly calm process.

David Schwartz said...

It all seemed so simple. A designer works up a logo, presents it, and voila, you have an iconic image that's lasted for 60 years. Today, I fear there would have been committees, focus groups, hundreds of design modifications... and a price tag of millions! Just goes to show how less is often times more!

tb said...

No one's going to say anything about that toupee?

Jon J said...

I was a booth announcer at a CBS station when they switched the audio voiced over the slide before a network break from "This is the CBS Television Network" to the much shorter "This is CBS". The longer version was a perfect three-second roll cue for the film chain to get up to speed to air a commercial. The shorter version drove them nuts trying to anticipate.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm the only one, but it
never looked like an eye to me. I
had to read the phrase "the CBS eye" to see it. Maybe because the pupil had no iris. Maybe because sometimes the white part of the eye was transparent. Or maybe I was right in the first place--it's just left-brained math major me

Mike Barer said...

Doug, I also thought that Dick V was doing the voice.

YEKIMI said...

If you like TV network history, you might be interested in this site about the old Dumont network: http://www.dumonthistory.tv/

Ted said...

Congratulations Ken. After four years of reading your blog daily, I have finally viewed your very first totally boring post.

Well ok, the toupee was kind of funny.

jbryant said...

In the "Murine" shot, is that Alan Young and Dom De Luise?

Frank said...

I would be a very happy man if my hair looked half as young and realistic as that hip designer dude.

Anonymous said...

Knew it was Charlie O from the start. You can still hear him every morning just before 9 am on KNX/CBS NEWS RADIO.

Tim W. said...

"No one's going to say anything about that toupee?"

I was wondering if anyone was going to mention it. It was completely unnoticeable, though. It most definitely blended in with the rest of his hair, don't you think?

Klee said...

CBS was always my favorite network because it broadcast some of my all time favorite shows: Lost in Space", "I Love Lucy", "The MTM Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" , "Dallas", "Knots Landing", "The Munsters", "Carol Burnett Show", "60 Minutes (still great after all these years..).

Roger Owen Green said...

You folks should watch CBS Sunday Morning every week. There is always interesting tidbits like that.
Yes, I knew it was Charles O from the start; DVD's vocal pitch is slightly higher.

Joey H said...

Slightly off topic, I once read an explanation of a Rube Goldberg type contraption in the basement of the NYC CBS Broadcast Center that generated the A-440 time note at the top of the hour. It's now all done digitally, but the original device sounded really cool.

Mike Doran said...

Just FYI ...

ABC went through four or five different logos, mainly variants on lower-case letters, before coming up with the current one in 1962. I can date it that precisely because I remember the first time I saw it.
The first regularly scheduled color program on ABC was The Jetsons, starting in the fall of '62. The new logo was deployed to indicate that it was a colorcast, this despite the fact that many ABC affiliates weren't able to transmit in color yet.
As it was, ABC didn't start using a decolored version until well into the '62-'63 season. In the fall of '63, their "The New ABC" promotional campaign made the logo official.
And so for the rest of the 60s and 70s (almost) it was The Eye, The Snake (NBC), and The Circles.

Just between you and me, I wish NBC would bring back the Snake. at least that was distinctive ...