The first TV commercial —the first legal one, at any rate— aired in the U.S. on July 1, 1941. It was a shaky, 10-second spot for Bulova, a watch and jewelry company that had been founded in New York 66 years before.
The spot cost Bulova all of $9: $4 for airtime and $5 for "station charges," according to American Heritage magazine. (Presumably its agency, Biow Company, took a slice of those "station charges.") The commercial only reached, at best, a few thousand people: Only 4,000 TV sets had been installed in New York at that time.