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The record states that the first couch potato was named and affectionately shamed in Pasadena, California, in 1976, when Tom Iacino phoned his friend Robert Armstrong, a cartoonist and TV lover.

According to an interview that Iacino gave to in 2014, Armstrong’s girlfriend picked up, and Iacino said, “Hey, is the couch potato there?

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As a result, the old-school sheepishness about watching television, especially during the day, has been replaced by a sense of pride in our new technological capabilities.(The general consensus that TV programming is, on the whole, better than it used to be surely helps with this destigmatization.) In the past few years, the world’s transit systems have become eclectic TV and movie lounges.They became a sitcom trope, suggesting that a fundamental lethargy, rather than a tireless Protestantism, lay at the center of the national personality.As Katey Sagal, who played Peg Bundy on “Married with Children,” told the actress and talk-show host Sara Gilbert in 2013, her character was, from the beginning, written as “sort of a couch potato”; the bouffant wig was Sagal’s way to “doll her up.” Gilbert herself played a much bleaker version of repose in “Roseanne,” when her character, Darlene, hit a period of teen-age angst, developing a sudden habit of spending hours on end watching television.At the end of our tour, the guide gave us a quiz, to see whether we could work out the definitions of a handful of obsolete words. To have the yux is to have the hiccups, and a fopdoodle is “a fool, an insignificant wretch.” Then we came to the word “bedpresser.” One student guessed that it referred to a prostitute, though she put it less delicately. It struck me then that this question revealed more than a gap in one young person’s vocabulary.

Another ventured, with a surprising degree of confidence, that it was someone who pushed beds around in the streets. On reflection, there did seem to be fewer couch potatoes lazing around than there used to be.

” Armstrong soon trademarked the unplanned coinage, with Iacino’s permission.

Then, in 1983, Armstrong and the writer Jack Mingo published “The Official Couch Potato Handbook,” a mock guide, very much of its time, to slouching proudly in front of the boob tube.

The couch potato is endemic to the family TV room, occupying an ecological niche that, in the past decade or so, has been altered significantly, as first our laptops and then our smartphones became credible broadcasters.

According to a recent report from Nielsen, adult Americans’ consumption of live TV dropped seven per cent between 20, and during the same period the daily hours devoted to using apps and browsing the Web increased by almost sixty per cent.

Likewise, our smartphones display both urgent e-mails and consolingly familiar reruns of “Friends.” Even earbuds don’t necessarily portend mindless consumption; a conference call, or even a podcast teaching introductory Mandarin, could be piping up those rubbery lines.