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The first television ad cost $9.

The 10-second spot was nothing like its flashy modern-day descendants. Sponsored by watch and clock company Bulova, the promo, which kicked off a baseball game broadcast on July 1, 1941, only featured a simple voice-over and still image—but you can’t say it wasn’t a bargain. The sum Bulova forked over—$143 in 2013 dollars—was small change compared to the reported $4 million–per-half-minute rate that sponsors will pay for airtime during this month’s Super Bowl. (Not to mention the average $350,000-plus it costs to produce a spot.) The Biow Company ad agency billed Bulova just $5 for airtime and $4 in supplemental charges for the groundbreaking spot. It was a small price to pay for immortality.

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