Nielsen Audimeter and Cartridge


This device—the “black box” of the television ratings system—gathered information from households about media listening and viewing habits from 1949 until the early 1970s. Connected to a radio or television, it registered set use and station tuning by exposing 16-mm film to a pinpoint of light. When changed by the homeowner weekly, the film cartridge ejected a quarter to ensure timely mailings to the Nielsen Company for analysis. The data gleaned from sample homes enabled campaign pollsters to track viewing patterns during candidates’ television appearances and to refine schedules of paid political advertising.

General Subject Association: Political CampaignsUsed: Television broadcasts


See more items in: Political and Military History: Political History, General History Collection, Government, Politics, and Reform, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith

Exhibition: American Democracy

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: A. C. Nielsen Company

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1986.0664.03Catalog Number: 1986.0664.03Accession Number: 1986.0664

Object Name: Audimeter

Physical Description: metal (overall material)black (overall color)Measurements: overall: 8 3/4 in x 8 3/4 in x 11 3/4 in; 22.225 cm x 22.225 cm x 29.845 cm


Record Id: nmah_1072675

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