The Emmy Award is an award given to the various people responsible for producing television shows. Emmy Awards are similar to the Academy Awards given out for movies, the Grammy Awards given for music, and the Tony Awards given for theater and stage presentations. They are given to people who work in various segments of the television industry, including news, documentary shows, entertainment programming, and sports. The awards are presented in various ceremonies throughout the year, but the best-known of these ceremonies are the Primetime Emmy Awards, which honor excellent achievements in television programming, and the Daytime Emmy Awards, which honor excellence in programming for daytime television shows.
There are three related organizations currently involved in presenting the Emmy Awards. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), which recognizes achievements in prime time entertainment, except for sports; the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which honors daytime, news, sports, and documentary programming; and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which recognizes excellence in programming produced outside United States.
The ATAS, which is based in Los Angeles, first established the Emmys as a part of a public relations campaign to build their image and give it a public face. They chose the name 'Emmy' as a feminine reworking of the word 'immy', which was a nickname for the image tubes that were commonly used in television cameras years ago. To go along with the feminine name, the statuette designed for the award is in the shape of a winged woman who holds an atom, which is now the symbol of the ATAS goal of supporting the art and science involved in television programming. The woman's wings represent art, and the atom represents the science involved in producing that art.
The first ceremony of presenting the Emmy Awards was held on January 25, 1949, but it was held only to honor television shows that were produced and shown locally in the Los Angeles viewing area. The first Emmy ever presented was awarded to Shirley Dinsdale, who was named the Most Outstanding Television Personality.
A few years later, the Emmys were expanded into being a national event, with the awards presented live on shows that were broadcast across the country. The NATAS was formed in 1955 in New York, to serve as a companion organization to ATAS, to work with members located on the East Coast. Regional chapters were established throughout the US, with each chapter developing a local Emmy awards show to honor local programming excellence. But due to various conflicts among organizations, the NATAS and the ATAS decided to split ties in 1977, but they agreed to share the ownership of the trademark and Emmy statue, with each organization being responsible for overseeing a specific set of shows.
Each Emmy ceremony has its own grouping of award categories, and it is common for some of the awards to have the same names, such as the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series―which exists in both the prime time and daytime Emmy ceremonies. Some award categories that are presented to people who work behind the scenes―such as costume designers, sound editors, and casting directors―are handed out at separate ceremonies held prior to the major awards ceremonies. Till 2009, high school and college students had the opportunity to submit original productions to regional ATAS chapters, where they could be recognized for news, documentaries, public affairs, public service, sports, arts and entertainment, writing, and technical achievement. The school the students belong to received a plaque to display that contains the name of the student film-maker as well as an adult advisor. But the national high school program was suspended in 2009, because there was no money left to continue the program due to the downturn in the economy. However, the Emmys for high school and college accomplishments are still presented on a regional level.
In addition to the major categories, there are a handful of special Emmys presented each year, such as awards for business and financial reporting, public service announcements and programming that 'advances the common good', national television newscasts and documentaries, and the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, which is presented by the Board of Governors of the NATAS. The Governors Award was designed to recognize the achievements of a person, organization, or company, whose works stand out above the rest. It is the highest and most prestigious award the Academy presents.