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Have you ever wondered where it all started? Technically reality series were first formatted to radio audiences through the soundwaves, but when televisions started being more and more common in American households a new series of shows was reborn, including early reality TV. With sponsors ranging from Lipton Tea to automobile companies, reality TV series became a genuine fascination with TV viewers early on and it all started with these first reality shows.

Queen for a Day (1945)

Queen for a Day is often described as the first ever Reality TV show. Introduced as a radio show, the game show format posed the question to a group of women, “Would you like to be queen for a day?” The women would then answer the question with stories of why they deserved the prize, ranging from medical expenses to lavish lifestyles. An applause meter from the audience would decide the winner; whom would then receive a series of prizes.

Cash and Carry (1946)

Another early game show formatted show was Cash and Carry in 1946. The show featured trivia like questions that contestants could answer to win money. There were also challenges for couples, such as a blindfolded spouse attempting to feed their husband. Lasting a total of one season, the show is still considered an early predecessor to modern reality competition shows.

Candid Camera (1948)

Candid Camera may have been the first largely successful reality series. You’ve probably heard the phrase which originated with the show, “Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!” which still holds weight in modern society. The series ran in different formats all the way from 1948 to 2014, being picked up by different networks to different ratings, hitting second in the Nielson ratings in the 60’s. The show was simple enough, a hidden camera collected the reactions of various practical jokes – a past tense take on shows like Impractical Jokers and the like.

Original Amateur Hour (1948)

50 years before American Idol there were other other talent based reality competitions, like the Original Amateur Hour. The show featured a mix of different acts, similar to America’s Got Talent. Any talent that one could display impressively was put on the show from singing to juggling. Much like today’s television shows viewers could call in to cast a vote and in 1940’s style, they could mail in postcards. Winners of the show included the famous Glady’s Knight at 8 years old. The show had a number of long runs on television, until 1992.

Talent Scouts (1948)

Competing with Original Amateur Hour was Talent Scouts – a show very similarly formatted (although they used a live audience applause to select winners). From Tony Bennet to Pat Boone the show had a number of amateurs who went on to some critical acclaim. While it wasn’t as successful as Amateur Hour the show was well known during the time. Eventually the American audience for reality TV by the late 50’s hit a standstill with viewers having an appetite for newer ideas and scripted television.

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Uncovering the Epic Birth of Reality TV with the First Reality Shows Ever