The Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) established the Emmy Awards as part of an image-building and public relations opportunity.
The first Emmy Awards were presented on January 25, 1949 at the Hollywood Athletic Club, but solely to honor shows produced and aired locally in the Los Angeles area. Shirley Dinsdale has the distinction of receiving the very first Emmy, for Most Outstanding Television Personality, during that first awards ceremony.
An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, recognizes excellence in the television industry, and corresponds to the Academy Award (for film), the Tony Award (for theater), and the Grammy Award (for music).
The Emmy statuette, depicting a winged woman holding an atom, was designed by television engineer Louis McManus, who used his wife as the model. The TV Academy rejected a total of forty-seven proposals before settling on McManus’ design in 1948. The statuette “has since become the symbol of the TV Academy’s goal of supporting and uplifting the art and science of television: The wings represent the muse of art; the atom the electron of science.”
When deciding a name for the award, Academy founder Syd Cassyd originally suggested “Ike”, the nickname for the television iconoscope tube. However, “Ike” was also the popular nickname of World War II hero and future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and therefore Academy members wanted something more unique. Finally, television engineer and the third academy president, Harry Lubcke, suggested the name “Immy”, a term commonly used for the image orthicon tube used in the early cameras. After “Immy” was chosen, it was later feminized to Emmy to match their female statuette.
Each Primetime Emmy statuette weighs six pounds, twelve-and-a-half ounces (3.08 kg), and is made of copper, nickel, silver and gold. The statue stands 15.5 inches (39 cm) tall with a base diameter of 7.5 inches (19 cm) and weight of 88 oz (2.5 kg). The Regional Emmy Award statuette is 11.5 inches (29 cm) tall with a base diameter of 5.5 inches (14 cm) and weight of 48 oz (1.4 kg). Each takes five-and-one-half hours to make and is handled with white gloves to prevent fingerprints. The Regional Emmy Awards are made by Society Awards, a New York based company that also makes the Golden Globe Awards.