The Teleprompter: Controversial from the outset

Kids ask the darnedest questions.

Mommy, where did the Teleprompter come from?

According to a Smithsonian history:

The device started out in 1948 as a roll of butcher paper rigged up inside half of a suitcase. Actor Fred Barton Jr., a Broadway veteran, was nervous. “For those that had been either in theater or the movies, the transition to television was difficult, because there was a much greater need for memorizing lines,” says Christopher Sterling, a media historian at George Washington University.

Mommy, has the Teleprompter always been fraught with controversy? Yes, Dear. From the Smithsonian:

Describing a September 9, 1952, campaign speech by Eisenhower in Indianapolis, The New York Times wrote, “General Eisenhower, who was speaking with the aid of a Teleprompter, a device that unreels the speaker’s text, was heard by a national radio audience, but not those in the hall, to say this: ‘Go ahead! Go ahead! Go ahead! Yah, damn it, I want him to move up.’” The outburst was reprinted in thousands of press accounts nationally, letting the world know about the new invention.

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