Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Postwar American Television

International Telemeter Pay Television Converter


The Telemeter pay television system used a converter box which accepted coins. Scrambled video was transmitted over a cable television system, and when the proper amount of money was put in the coin slot, an unscrambled picture and sound would appear on the television set.


International Telemeter Corp. was half owned by Paramount Pictures. The first public test of Telemeter took place on a cable system owned by Paramount in Palm Springs, California, in 1953. Seventy homes were equipped with converters. On November 28  a Paramount Film Forever Female was broadcast for a charge of $1.


By 1954, an average of $10 per month was being spent on movies through Telemeter by 148 households. International Telemeter Corporation was pleased with the early results, which were above their initial estimates. The Palm Springs experiment ended during the summer of 1954.


The International Telemeter Company began a long-term test of its closed-circuit system in Toronto, Canada in February of 1960.

Within a year, however, the Toronto experiment was losing money and Paramount Pictures stepped in to take over from a Canadian company. The Toronto experiment was shut down on April 30th, 1965, a technical success but a commercial failure.


This converter box is most likely from the Toronto experiment.