The surprising story of how and where clapping, applause signs and acoustic amplification begin, a few thousand years ago.

We take for granted that we show appreciation for a performance by clapping. If we like it, we clap. The more we like it the more and louder we clap. It is so engrained in us that we think it to be an organic reaction. It isn’t. It started somewhere.

Applause was started by the ancient Greeks. Then it was adopted by the Romans. It is still used to measure appreciation for a performance. In the early days of TV (The Love Connection and others) moved a step forward by replacing a judge deciding which contestant got the most applause and used VU meters to determine the loudest applause.

Then about thirty years ago, Quick Tally Interactive Systems started computer based TV audience voting. Today’s TV shows including the modern version of The Love Connection have all replaced measuring noise with actual voting devices.

Television shows also use another invention from about two-thousand years ago: APPLAUSE SIGNS. They signal the appropriate moments for applause now, as they did when started by Emperor Agustustus – first emperor of the Roman world (27 BCE – 14 CE). He actually pointed an official to signal when to applaud. We do the same thing today – a few thousand later.

The Greeks wore stage masks both to identify the character that they were playing and they also served as megaphones. Their wooden stages also acted as sound amplifiers.

The Romans took amplification another clever step forward. They used bronze and terracotta casks placed alongside the stage to create further amplification.

If you find yourself as an audience member in a TV studio, you might be the only person there who knows why and how clapping and applause signs started.

Give yourself a round of applause!

With over 30 years of experience in helping clients achieve their meetings goals. I am passionate about the power of insight. If I can help your firm discover this power, please contact me.

Alan Warshaw
Quick Tally® Interactive Systems, Inc.
Direct Dial: 310.306.4930

About Me

After graduating from New York University with a degree in Communications, Alan attended the New School for Social Research, Graduate School at N.Y.U. and the Master’s Program in Cinema at U.C.L.A. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Alan was employed by Doyle, Dane and Burnbach Advertising Agency. He worked in the U.S. and Europe in the feature motion picture production business. He was employed by Quick Tally Interactive Systems for one year prior to acquiring the company. He has owned and run the company for almost three decades and has pioneered in the manufacturing of ARS equipment and providing interactive event services. In addition to US State and Federal Government Agencies, America’s leading companies, associations and television networks, he has also worked for events clients in the EU, New Zealand, Hong Kong Thailand and Dubai.