There are so many things people do for fun. Here's a peek at the history and trivia behind some of the most common forms of entertainment and how they got so popular. From radio to theme parks to television, each of our favorite things has had a long and interesting history to get where it is today!
Before Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, books were copied by hand, usually by monks who worked on illuminated manuscripts in their monasteries. This made books very rare. After the printing press started making copies easier, books evolved to include poetry, fiction, essays and more. A person who loves books is called a bibliophile or a bookworm. Some of the first books in the world were made on papyrus paper in Egypt, around 2400 BC.
A cartoon is an illustration or moving picture that is meant to entertain. Cartoons gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries but mostly for political reasons. Politicians were usually the butt of jokes in early American cartoons. With the advent of movies, cartoonists began working on stories for the big and small screens. In an animated movie, each hand-drawn frame of action in a cartoon is called a "cell."
Concerts fall into a huge human oral tradition that goes back to the earliest history of man. Humans are performers and storytellers by birth and as long as there have been communities of people, there have been concerts and musical events. Some of the biggest concert venues in the world are the O2 Arena in London, which seats 20,000 and the United Center in Chicago, which seats 23,000. Outdoor concert venues can get even bigger.
A documentary is a term first used in 1926 to mean a movie or TV show that documents something about real life, usually just one main topic, like poverty, a disaster, a political issue or the story of a certain individual or group, and presents it to the viewer with the purpose of both enlightening and entertaining. Recent documentaries include When the Levees Broke, about Hurricane Katrina and Sicko, a movie about America's health care system.
The fashion show -- an event for a designer to showcase his or her new collection on a runway, or catwalk -- started in Paris, the capital of fashion, in the 19th century. By the 1900's, American department stores caught on to the trend and were staging fashion shows to show off their new collections. Fashion shows went back to being popular with designers and America's largest fashion event, New York Fashion Week, was born in 1993.
Movies have been around since the early 20th century, when technological revolution made them very popular on a wide scale. In the 40's and 50's, movies weren't just entertainment, they were a window on the world as well: newsreels would run before movies and show audiences happenings from abroad. Did you know that movie trailers are called that because they used to be shown after a movie?
The world's first plays were performed almost 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. The more Western idea of theatre, with a story, a hero, songs and characters on stage, began with the Ancient Greeks. Thespis, a Greek, was said to be the very first actor. That is why modern actors are called "thespians." In modern times, there are many different styles of plays. From comedies to dramas, from musicals to experimental theatre, there is something for everyone on stage.
Radio works by transmitting electromagnetic waves through the air. When these waves are picked up by a radio receiver, they are transformed into sound that the human ear can hear. Radio waves even travel in the vacuum of outer space! The radio was first adopted in 1912 by the United States Navy and became widely available for civilians in the 1920's.
A theme park is the name for an amusement park that has various rides, games, restaurants and attractions that all go with a larger theme. Examples are the Six Flags parks, Marine World, Knotts Berry Farm, California Adventure, Great America, Universal Studios and, of course, the world's best known theme park: Disneyland. Not only do locals and US visitors flood to America's theme parks, a lot of the visitors come from foreign countries, as much as 30%!
Television, or TV, has been around in most countries since the 1930's. Soon after TVs started popping up in most American homes, advertising was introduced in 1940. Both TV technology and TV advertising have developed a lot since those days. An ad during the Super Bowl football game, for example, can cost several million dollars. Ever since the 1970's, cassettes and other media have been available to record television and watch it later.