CBS Logo History

On Oct. 17, 1951, CBS unveiled its new logo, the CBS Eye--which was destined to become an American icon, recognized and respected around the world, and one of the best crafted, most identifiable and most successful corporate symbols in history. The CBS Eye, first seen on the air on Saturday, Oct. 20, 1951 during station breaks, also changed the way corporations of the day designed their trademarks. Over the years, the Eye has been seen in many different colors, sizes and dimensions. But CBS has not tampered with the design. It has been the network's signature for a half century, and the perfectly balanced design remains unchanged. On that day more than 50 years ago, CBS issued a press release with the simple headline:


A new symbol, designed for the CBS Television Network, and to be used as the network's identification during station breaks, will be introduced Saturday, Oct. 20 and promoted by top CBS-TV stars during all network cues Saturday and Sunday.

The new symbol, shaped like an eye, is set against a background of cumulus clouds. In the center of the eye are the words "CBS Television Network." The symbol was designed by William Golden, Creative Director of CBS-TV's Advertising and Sales Promotion Department.

The CBS-TV stars who will take part, via recordings, in the weekend campaign to introduce the new symbol are Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams Jr. ("Amos 'n' Andy"), Clifton Fadiman, Ken Murray, Conrad Nagel, Jack Sterling, Garry Moore, Ralph Bellamy, Steve Allen, Perry Como, Peggy Wood, Robert Q. Lewis, George Burns and Gracie Allen and Alan Young.

In the book The Visual Craft of William Golden, Golden described the creation of "my eye." He said, "Our 'service mark,' as the lawyers refer to it, was conceived primarily for on-the air use. It made its first appearance as a still composite photo of the 'eye' and a cloud formation photographed from an abandoned Coast Guard tower. You would imagine that a cloud picture is the easiest stock photo to find, but it came as a shock to me that there are almost no useful ones.

"It was originally conceived as a symbol in motion. It consisted of several concentric 'eyes.' The camera dollies in to reveal the 'pupil' as an iris diaphragm shutter which clicked open to show the network identification and clicked shut."

Golden's original inspiration came while he was driving through Pennsylvania Dutch country, where he became intrigued by the hex symbols resembling the human eye drawn on Shaker barns to ward off evil spirits. He also came across a drawing in a Shaker art book from the 1850s that also looked like an eye. With the help of graphic artist Kurt Weiss, the first Eye logo was drawn.

As the image became established, CBS President Frank Stanton was determined to keep the CBS Eye in the public eye. He had the clouds removed and emblazoned the symbol on cameras, curtains, buildings, jewelry and rate cards. The next season, when Bill Golden prepared to design a new symbol, Stanton overruled him: "Just when you're beginning to be bored with what you've done is when it's beginning to be noticed by your audience."

CBS kept the Eye, and not just for one more season.

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