Probably the most famous and certainly most influential tron is the Arbitron. The Arbitron is the ratings system to monitor home radio and television habits. “The new system is called Arbitron,” the New York Times reported in 1957, “a promotionally clever word that probably will attract the fancy of comedians and quipsters.” (‘A New Product: Instant Ratings,’ New York Times Dec 29, 1957, p. 63.) People noticed the name, just like they noticed the name of the Eggatron, the Ecotron, and the Interrotron. The Arbitron may be the most successful tron technology, eventually sold to the Nielsen ratings group in 2012 for nearly USD 1.3 billion.
“This is a great day for Nielsen and a natural step in our evolution,” said Nielsen Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun. “Arbitron will allow us to analyze and understand an additional two hours of the U.S. consumer’s day while bringing us another opportunity to provide advertisers with metrics on the effectiveness of the mediums that they advertise on.” Arbitron was subsequently rebranded Nielsen Audio and integrated into Nielsen’s U.S. Watch business segment. With Arbitron, Nielsen now measures eight hours a day per person of dynamic media consumption. Ponder for a moment how political fortunes, business empires, and social reputations are made and lost on the basis of ratings to realize how the Arbitron shapes the very fabric of modern life.