I remember when the "lost" Honeymooners episodes were "found" in Gleason's closet) and released. These were not the 39 half hour shows, but those sketches from Gleason's variety shows.
Yeah I know, but the thing is, the standard process before was that the reels would be erased and used for next week, which is why a lot of stuff from 'The Golden Age of Television' has been permanently lost, such as the 1954 World Series where Don Larsen pitched a perfect game, you would think that such a big event would be saved, but it wasn't, the tape was wiped immediately and recorded over, not one single video of Don Larsen's perfect game is known to exist.....what Gleason did is insist that instead of the tapes being wiped that they be given to him, this made producing his shows more expensive, but CBS gave in because they figured the tapes were worthless....and then in the 80's when the technology was ready to restore them he released them....and made millions from them, money he badly needed because he was a profligate spender and was constantly running out of money.
But shortly after I posted that it occured to me that of course they must have known how to tape things...movies had been around for decades...they just couldn't do it cheaply, shows were produced on a shoestring budget and live broadcasts were easier....I guess it just took a while for them to figure out a way to make taped broadcasts cost effective, and I do know that the sitcoms produced in the latter half of the 1950's, like Leave it to Beaver, Dennis the Menace and Make Room For Daddy were obviously taped rather than broadcast live.....
Now I'm curious as to the whole history of the process....gee thanks....
And yes, a lot of what would have been available, from the Golden Age of TV, was lost, like that. Same thing happened to radio; who needs this junk. Most famous case I know of was my favorite comedy show, Vic and Sade. which had about 90% of its available shows destroyed as junk. Sure wish I could hear some of those. And those shows that were originally shot on 35mm film, like THE HONEYMOONERS, at the Dumont network, were not erased, obviously. Destroyed or lost maybe, but erasing was the fate of some of the first taped shows.
And the TV shows that only exist on kinoscope are poor quality, since they are tapes of films of a cathode ray tube image. But some form of reproduction was essential, else all shows would have to be broadcast live, twice, for both coasts. Radio often did just that. But the TV productions were more expensive.
Yes, a lot of the sitcoms were on tape early. Again, Desilu led the way, filming live with a 3 camera setup, for reverse shots and such.
All my books on this stuff are packed, my details from memory are few and some come from googling (disclosure).