In 2004, I wrote a newsletter article about the 1955 Bowman set and the then-new invention of color TV. The article appeared again in 2007 in the SMR magazine that PSA puts out. Click here to read it (in PDF format).
However, what many collectors don't realize is that the '55 Bowman set wasn't the first to use a television design. That honor goes to the 1950 Drake's set:
Card #22 -- Eddie Stanky
While many collectors remember Drake's for the cards they included on the packaging of their various snack boxes during the 1980s, in 1950 they were a smaller regional bakery and these cards were available in packages of oatmeal cookies or "Jumble" cookies. The cards aren't impossible to collect, but they weren't widely collected when they were new and the black borders make them tough in high condition.
For more about the 1950 Drake's set, here's a link to the set description in my main site.
After 1955, the TV-inspired design never went away. Topps would return to the concept in 1966, for both its football and hockey cards:
The football design used cherry-colored woodgrain, similar to the one used in the '55 Bowman set. However, they removed the "Color TV" faceplate and the knobs below the picture tube to place the player's name, team and position.
The used the exact same design for their hockey cards that year. I borrowed the image of this Mikita card;
Too bad Topps didn't use the TV-design for its 1966 baseball set. The design they went with is often pointed out as one of the more unimaginative of the 1960s, and even a horizontal design may have been neat, since there hadn't been one of those since 1960.However, Topps didn't toss the TV out the window:
In fact, they used the design as part of the next two years' World Series recaps. That was a good use for the designs, since many fans watched the games on their own televisions.
They even revisited the concept a couple of years after that:
But of course, that was a TV show, so the design was perfectly suited for it.