Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘50s Broadcast Tech Tales

 

The UK had gone through hell during the Second World War, and its early postwar years were bleak. “Austere” was the accepted, understated way of putting it. Food and heating fuel were expensive and scarce. In 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen when her father died. This was formally confirmed in elaborate rituals throughout England and Scotland, leading up to her grand coronation in June 1953. It had been eight years since the end of the war. The UK economy was finally looking up. The English were ready to kick up their heels a little. So they staged what amounted to the first worldwide television spectacular.

With the Queen’s acquiescence—in fact, her insistence—the BBC’s cameras were permitted to observe almost all of a ceremony once held to be all but sacred. Announced long in advance, the Coronation resulted in the purchase of millions of TV sets, no longer exclusively associated with the upper classes. The live television signal was microwaved across the Channel to France, where it was broadcast in Paris and relayed onwards to Holland and Germany, whose viewers also watched the ceremonies in a growing number of fortunate private homes, and thronged the many bars and meeting places that already had television sets.

That’s as far as the live signal reached in 1953, eight years after Arthur C. Clarke published a proposal for communications satellites, and nine years before the first transatlantic satellite television broadcasts actually took place. Except under rare, freakish conditions of nighttime shortwave propagation, North America and Europe could not broadcast television directly to each other.

An island nation long accustomed to proudly leading the world was now fighting to maintain its positions in “future” industries it helped pioneer: electronics, aviation, and atomic energy. In many cases, its leading overseas export competitor was its good friend and recent ally in victory, the USA. New York took over from London as the world’s banker. US audiences have always been sentimental suckers for the royals (Ironically enough, given 1776 and all that) and our three major networks competed to broadcast first-day filmed accounts of Coronation Day, as close to live coverage as possible.

To accomplish that, television—a British invention of the 1920s—would be combined with jet aircraft—a British invention of the 1930s. At London’s airport, TV sets covering the day’s pageantry were filmed, image and sound, by special cameras (kinescoped). The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work. The plane landed at Gander, Newfoundland, where a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jet took the film to CBC TV Montreal. The Empire was becoming a Commonwealth, and the RAF-RCAF brotherhood still had a lot of resonance.

The Canadian shortcut saved hours of flight time to the US. Their CBC broadcasting system linked via Bell Canada’s direct coaxial cable connections to CBS and ABC in the United States. (NBC’s own lab-equipped jet to New York had mechanical problems and returned to London). By now, it was midnight in the UK, but only 7 p.m. on the US east coast, time for the evening news. Events this important were relayed live to the west coast, which as of the previous year were permanently connected to the eastern and central time zones (CBC wouldn’t reach the Pacific until December).

This was pretty hot stuff in 1953; for the first time in history the same big news event was visible to viewers on the same day (local time), all the way from Berlin to San Diego, the same way radio had been, 20 years earlier. A persistent dream of science fiction, worldwide television and the annihilation of distance, was becoming more real.*

In 1962, AT&T’s Telstar satellite, only in low Earth orbit, allowed roughly ten minutes of live TV transmissions between North America and Europe, every ninety minutes. By 1965, orbiting 22,000 miles higher allowed continuous, 24/7 color TV connections between Europe, America, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan. The Coronation, only a dozen years back, seemed like a long, long time ago by then.

Here’s a different example of what seemed like electronic magic in the ‘50s. Imagine a TV studio, the kind of small set a local station would use for news. But there’s no television camera in sight. The lights hanging from the ceiling never go on, even though they’re covered in red, green, and blue filters for color television. The entire news or talk show is conducted in ghostly near-darkness, with only the faintest purple glow to see by. And yet, if you manage to make your way off the set without tripping over anything, the on-camera people who you can barely see are chatting happily away on the video monitor, seemingly well-lit and in full living color. Is it magic? Nope, it’s a typical afternoon at WITI-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin between 1956 and 1959.

The country was in the middle of a snail-slow, boom-less “boom” in switching over to color television, very expensive at both ends, the station and the living room. WITI’s strange studio equipment was made by TV pioneer DuMont and adopted by only a handful of stations. It was the cheapest possible way to present live color TV. It was called Flying Spot Scanning.

Here’s how: In classic era, normal TV, the light bouncing back from a subject is focused onto a light-sensitive surface at the back of a camera tube. It is continually scanned and read by an electron beam, zipping up and down thirty times a second (this oversimplifies it, but just a little) and from side to side 15,750 times a second.

Suppose, instead, those normal procedures were turned on their heads. Suppose instead of an electron beam in a vacuum tube, a streaking light beam “coated” an otherwise darkened room as many times and for as many lines as a regular TV picture. That light source was a specially brightened cathode ray tube, a super-bright blank picture focused by a lens. Many stations already owned one, in the form of a film scanner, and those with Du Mont equipment could purchase a prism/mirror setup that projected that beam outwards into a dark studio. The seeming “lights” on the ceiling were actually photocells in scoop-shaped metal reflectors. Adjusting the balance between the voltages of the red, green, and blue pickup tubes gave a surprisingly lifelike picture of something that you couldn’t have seen with your own eyes.

Eventually, even ingeniously cheap WITI-TV had to bow to reality and give up its daily seances. But it didn’t make the costly jump to conventional live color. It went back to full time black and white, at least for local origination, and like most local stations it enjoyed black and white’s lower costs, stretching out its investments in late ‘50s studio gear, until close to the TV industry’s promotional “1965, the Full Color Year.”

* It’s funny how stories echo themselves over the decades, in this case, a story about how a geographic shortcut consisting of only one thin wire helped settle a speedy race to bring news across the Atlantic. An Edward G. Robinson film of 1940, A Dispatch From Reuters, is about the 19th-century entrepreneur of carrier pigeons who built a press wire service empire, shrewdly exploiting the novelty of telegraph networks. The movie story, though fictionalized, has some basis in fact; the first transatlantic cable in 1858 failed almost immediately, so by the time of our Civil War, fast steamships carrying vital news eastwards across the Atlantic often stopped in Ireland ahead of landing in England, where they could instantly telegraph news to London. Julius Reuter triumphed when his competitors and enemies accused him of crashing the London stock market with allegedly fake news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

That’s the last time in history that could have happened, because in 1866 a better-constructed cable succeeded, allowing eight words per minute to be sent across the ocean. By 1900, wireless telegraphy further ensured continuous communication between the Old World and the New.

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  1. HankRhody Freelance Philosopher Contributor

    Gary McVey: The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work.

    Always fun to hear about this sort of thing, where time is of such value that even utterly silly things like installing a darkroom on a jet become practical.

    • #1
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:22 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. Judge Mental Member

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work.

    Always fun to hear about this sort of thing, where time is of such value that even utterly silly things like installing a darkroom on a jet become practical.

    Not media oriented, but in the early nineties when interest rates were high, a bank in the Midwest maintained a fleet of four planes and crews so they could fly checks to a clearinghouse one day faster than the normal delivery, because the one day’s worth of interest was enough to pay the costs and make a profit at it.

    • #2
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:30 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work.

    Always fun to hear about this sort of thing, where time is of such value that even utterly silly things like installing a darkroom on a jet become practical.

    I remember reading a memoir by an Airborne soldier who took part in a gigantic, multi-hundred plane jump, during Operation Market Garden, I believe. He stood near the door at the V shaped formation of V shaped formations and thought to himself, correctly, “We may never fight a war like this again”. 

    Developing the film midflight is, you’re right, something that would have happened only at this unique spot in technology’s timeline, when there was enough US television demand, but no direct method of supply quite yet. An ingenious workaround. Say, aren’t you supposed to be over at your excellent post, being showered with rose petals and palm fronds? 

    • #3
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:30 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work.

    Always fun to hear about this sort of thing, where time is of such value that even utterly silly things like installing a darkroom on a jet become practical.

    Not media oriented, but in the early nineties when interest rates were high, a bank in the Midwest maintained a fleet of four planes and crews so they could fly checks to a clearinghouse one day faster than the normal delivery, because the one day’s worth of interest was enough to pay the costs and make a profit at it.

    I’m not sure what this says more about: the peculiar distortions caused by higher interest rates, or the infinite human ingenuity that’s eternally devoted to wringing out a profit. 

    • #4
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:33 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Judge Mental Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: The undeveloped black and white film was hustled onto an RAF jet equipped with film chemical processors, so the long delay of the flight was put to work.

    Always fun to hear about this sort of thing, where time is of such value that even utterly silly things like installing a darkroom on a jet become practical.

    Not media oriented, but in the early nineties when interest rates were high, a bank in the Midwest maintained a fleet of four planes and crews so they could fly checks to a clearinghouse one day faster than the normal delivery, because the one day’s worth of interest was enough to pay the costs and make a profit at it.

    I’m not sure what this says more about: the peculiar distortions caused by higher interest rates, or the infinite human ingenuity that’s eternally devoted to wringing out a profit.

    Everyone knows the one about laundry in San Francisco being sent to Hawaii during the gold rush. Where there’s a profit, there’s a way.

    • #5
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:36 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    From the ‘30s through the ‘50s, there were experiments in sending film clips over the telephone. There was no way to cram a TV signal down the wire—digitalization and streaming were still in the distant future. Ever heard of contact prints? Photographers used them to get a quick look at what pictures could be selected for enlargement. 36 pictures were on each 8½ x 11 sheet of glossy paper. Instead of still pictures, the same simple technique was used to copy 35mm movie film, yielding a second and a half of film per each sheet of photo paper. 30 seconds of edited news film could be sent as 20 pages of fax or wirephoto. At the other end, a small camera rephotographed them. Ten minutes later (black and white processing was quick), you had a half minute of film, ready to show.

    • #6
    • November 22, 2020, at 1:43 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  7. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So much fun, and so much I didn’t know. A wonderful post, Gary, thanks.

    Gary McVey: At London’s airport, TV sets covering the day’s pageantry were filmed, image and sound, by special cameras (kinescoped).

    This reminded me of my early days in IT at the community hospital. It was 1990, and the place was, even for the times, rather backward in the computer technology department. So the lady in Instructional Media and I rigged up a system for creating slides from images on the computer by . . . taking photographs of the computer screen. She’d develop them, and the results were surprisingly good.

    • #7
    • November 22, 2020, at 2:45 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  8. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    So much fun, and so much I didn’t know. A wonderful post, Gary, thanks.

    Gary McVey: At London’s airport, TV sets covering the day’s pageantry were filmed, image and sound, by special cameras (kinescoped).

    This reminded me of my early days in IT at the community hospital. It was 1990, and the place was, even for the times, rather backward in the computer technology department. So the lady in Instructional Media and I rigged up a system for creating slides from images on the computer by . . . taking photographs of the computer screen. She’d develop them, and the results were surprisingly good.

    In those technically in-between eras, we improvised workarounds…and are still a bit sentimental about them, because despite all expectations, they worked. 

    Always a delight to get a kind word from our favorite English Rose. Thank you!

    • #8
    • November 22, 2020, at 2:51 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    From the ‘30s through the ‘50s, there were experiments in sending film clips over the telephone. There was no way to cram a TV signal down the wire—digitalization and streaming were still in the distant future. Ever heard of contact prints? Photographers used them to get a quick look at what pictures could be selected for enlargement. 36 pictures were on each 8½ x 11 sheet of glossy paper. Instead of still pictures, the same simple technique was used to copy 35mm movie film, yielding a second and a half of film per each sheet of photo paper. 30 seconds of edited news film could be sent as 20 pages of fax or wirephoto. At the other end, a small camera rephotographed them. Ten minutes later (black and white processing was quick), you had a half minute of film, ready to show.

    So that Murdoch episode where Murdoch invents a form of faxing a photo using 1898 (?) telegraph technology- it takes hours and involves Morse code and hand-painting cells of the image, but it works- that really is ingenious?

    • #9
    • November 22, 2020, at 4:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wirephotos…basically, faxes…were invented in 1895, but didn’t reach good quality and reasonable transmission speeds until the late 1920s. Here’s an article from 1900 about the original technology:

    http://www.hffax.de/history/html/pearson_magazine.html

     

     

    • #10
    • November 22, 2020, at 5:40 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Hartmann von Aue Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Wirephotos…basically, faxes…were invented in 1895, but didn’t reach good quality and reasonable transmission speeds until the late 1920s. Here’s an article from 1900 about the original technology:

    http://www.hffax.de/history/html/pearson_magazine.html

     

     

    Thank you, I did not know this when I saw Murdoch Mysteries dramatically depict it. It was an episode in season …7 maybe? Six years ago or more. 

    And thanks to Gary for the worthwhile post. 

    • #11
    • November 22, 2020, at 6:06 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On July 1, 1969, my mom set me down in front of the TV set “to watch history.” Some twerp named Charles Philip Arthur George (I swear they ran the whole list at least thirty times) was being invested* as prince of a place called Wales. The broadcast was “Live via Telstar” as the subtitle assured us throughout.

    “Invested? What does that mean, Mom?”

    “It means that one day he will be King of England.”

    “I thought that one day he already was to be the King of England.”

    “It means now it’s official.”

    “I thought it was already …”

    Hush!”

    Nineteen days later, I got to see Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon. Now that was history.


    * He already was Prince of Wales. He had been since they decided not to leave him on a doorstep somewhere. I don’t know what he picked up by being invested – his own set of keys to Cardiff Castle maybe.

    • #12
    • November 22, 2020, at 7:48 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  13. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Rescued and rescue party starting back home from wrecked airliner which landed in the Adirondacks, Dec. 31, 1935. Left to right are, R. W. Hambrook, passenger, John Pertrello, J. W. Brown, Dale Dryer, Lester Pertrello and Flyd Kreutzer. Pertrellos and Kreutzer are rescuers. (AP Photo)

    The AP initiated their wire photo service on New Year’s Eve 1935, for publication the next day. The first picture was of survivors of a plane crash in the Adirondacks. Ironically, no one thought to take a picture of it and all the AP has is an artistic rendering. 

    Here is a great shot of the first machines:

    A Wirephoto receiver showing the cylinder in which the negative is contained, is shown in the Associated Press’ photo department in New York, 1935, with Eddie Nittoly, right, attending to the machine. (AP Photo)

    Like much of early technology the machines were behemoths that took up a lot of square feet to accomplish the same thing that now happens in the palm of your hand. 

    Photo from Popular Mechanics, 1936

    NBC’s flying film lab was a play on the way the Germans broadcast the 1936 Olympics. Their early television cameras (built on the Nipkow system) looked like crap outdoors but performed fairly well as part of a film chain. So they mounted film cameras on the top of trucks and instead of a take up reel, the film traveled down a shaft directly into a developer and was run wet through a projector and then transmitted on a delay. 

     

     

     

     

    • #13
    • November 22, 2020, at 8:26 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Clavius Thatcher

    Clearly the value of and demand for timely information is huge. These investments to achieve it are impressive and fascinating. Now we take instantaneous for granted and need to hold our judgement because the first news we receive is so quick it is often inaccurate.

    Great post Gary!

    • #14
    • November 22, 2020, at 8:51 AM PST
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    The broadcast was “Live via Telstar” as the subtitle assured us throughout.

     

    Telstar even got its own song!

     

    • #15
    • November 22, 2020, at 9:53 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  16. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    re the undersea cable: Fanny Kemble, the British actress and astute observer of America, written circa 1882 in annotation of her earlier comments about the difficulties and emotional pain caused by slow communications between the continents.

    To those who know the rate of intercourse between Europe and America now, these expressions of the painful sense of distance from my country and friends, under which I suffered, must seem almost incomprehensible,—now, when to go to Europe seems to most Americans the easiest of summer trips, involving hardly more than a week’s sea voyage; when letters arrive almost every other day by some of the innumerable steamers flying incessantly to and fro, and weaving, like living shuttles, the woof and warp of human communication between the continents; and the submarine telegraph shoots daily tidings from shore to shore of that terrible Atlantic, with swift security below its storms. But when I wrote this to my friend, no words were carried with miraculous celerity under the dividing waves; letters could only be received once a month, and from thirty to thirty-seven days was the average voyage of the sailing packets which traversed the Atlantic. Men of business went to and fro upon their necessary affairs, but very few Americans went to Europe, and still fewer Europeans went to America, to spend leisure, or to seek pleasure; and American and English women made the attempt still seldomer than the men. The distance between the two worlds, which are now so near to each other, was then immense.

    Fanny is well worth reading; I excerpted many of her comments about America, and about life in general, here.

    • #16
    • November 22, 2020, at 10:15 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Boss Mongo Member

    Not only a great post, but also a sorta/kinda love letter praising the human species. Thank you, Gary.

    Gary McVey: The live television signal was microwaved across the Channel to France, where it was broadcast in Paris and relayed onwards to Holland and Germany, whose viewers also watched the ceremonies in a growing number of fortunate private homes, and thronged the many bars and meeting places that already had television sets.

    Think about the fact that chastened (snot-knocked-out-of-it) Germany was already welcomed back into the community. What noble people Western Civilization creates.

    • #17
    • November 22, 2020, at 10:37 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Telstar, the first television relay satellite, was non-geostationary and could only provide about 20 minutes of service between uplink and downlink stations. With its launch, CBS produced an “extravaganza” on July 23, 1962 for the three American networks, the CBC and 16 European broadcasters.

    To be included into the tour around America was to be 90 seconds of the Phillies-Cubs game from Wrigley Field. CBS arranged to take the feed from WGN, the independent station owned by the Chicago Tribune. Legendary Cubs play-by-play man, Jack Brickhouse, confided to that day’s home plate umpire he was afraid that nothing would happen and Europeans would find baseball unexciting.

    Tony Venzon, a veteran umpire in the National League assured Brickhouse that he would “take care of it.” As the PA announcer told the crowd the game was now being seen live in Europe, Venzon announced to the Phillies dugout that “we’re gonna show them Europeans what a great game baseball is. Every pitch is going to be called a strike so you better come up swinging the bat!” Second baseman Tony Taylor flied out and right fielder Johnny Callison hit a line drive single and then it was off to Washington DC for a JFK press conference.

    • #18
    • November 22, 2020, at 10:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    The broadcast was “Live via Telstar” as the subtitle assured us throughout.

     

    Telstar even got its own song!

     

    I’ve always liked that tune.

    • #19
    • November 22, 2020, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Back in the day, they had Atlantic Cable music!

    • #20
    • November 22, 2020, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Telstar, the first television relay satellite, was non-geostationary and could only provide about 20 minutes of service between uplink and downlink stations. With its launch, CBS produced an “extravaganza” on July 23, 1962 for the three American networks, the CBC and 16 European broadcasters.

    To be included into the tour around America was to be 90 seconds of the Phillies-Cubs game from Wrigley Field. CBS arranged to take the feed from WGN, the independent station owned by the Chicago Tribune. Legendary Cubs play-by-play man, Jack Brickhouse, confided to that day’s home plate umpire he was afraid that nothing would happen and Europeans would find baseball unexciting.

    Tony Venzon, a veteran umpire in the National League assured Brickhouse that he would “take care of it.” As the PA announcer told the crowd the game was now being seen live in Europe, Venzon announced to the Phillies dugout that “we’re gonna show them Europeans what a great game baseball is. Every pitch is going to be called a strike so you better come up swinging the bat!” Second baseman Tony Taylor flied out and right fielder Johnny Callison hit a line drive single and then it was off to Washington DC for a JFK press conference.

    New York’s WPIX used a rooftop camera to photograph an eclipse, but the station had a contract to do their weekly wrestling program. The bout managers asked, “Do you know exactly when this will happen?” “We can tell you in advance right down to the second”. “Great, just write out the times. I guarantee you’ll cut away at the right moment”. 

    It says something about simpler times, the naivete of the early Fifties, that for weeks, the segment producer was congratulated in the halls for somehow miraculously knowing when the bouts would end. 

    BTW, WPIX is owned by the New York Daily News. When I lived in New York, it was the city’s blue collar conservative newspaper, though since then they swapped roles with the once-liberal New York Post. The Daily News building, where WPIX’s studio was, is seen as the Daily Planet in 1978’s Superman

    • #21
    • November 22, 2020, at 12:05 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Not only a great post, but also a sorta/kinda love letter praising the human species. Thank you, Gary.

    Gary McVey: The live television signal was microwaved across the Channel to France, where it was broadcast in Paris and relayed onwards to Holland and Germany, whose viewers also watched the ceremonies in a growing number of fortunate private homes, and thronged the many bars and meeting places that already had television sets.

    Think about the fact that chastened (snot-knocked-out-of-it) Germany was already welcomed back into the community. What noble people Western Civilization creates.

    It takes noble people like you willing to put their lives on the line. Thanks, Boss, for everything. And, oh yeah, for the kind words. 

    • #22
    • November 22, 2020, at 12:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When BBC used flying spot scanning, until the end of 1936, they euphemistically called it the Spotlight Studio, trying to make a virtue of necessity. The performer was in a spotlight, all right, but of dim, flickering light that actors and announcers generally hated. It’s a major reason why Du Mont’s Vitascan didn’t catch on for long. 

    Why was it tried at all? In 1956, color TV cameras, with all their necessary equipment, cost $250,000 each–$2.4 million in today’s money. You needed three cameras, expensive lighting gear, a color control room, and massive air conditioning to handle the heat from all that light. You’d be looking at a minimum of $1, 750,000 to go color; almost $17 million today. 

    Whereas, suppose you stuck to transmitting whatever color the network sent you down the line, plus color movies and slides for station IDs. That kind of limited, network and film color setup cost only about $70,000, and Vitascan for limited live TV cost an additional $30,000. Total investment: $100,000, about $1 million today. Quite a difference. 

    • #23
    • November 22, 2020, at 6:34 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As EJ Hill has pointed out, Berlin’s 1936 Olympics was the first one televised, to viewing stations across Germany. The London Olympics of 1948 were seen in the London area; there were no other transmitters yet in Britain. Melbourne in 1956 was about as physically distant a summer games as was then possible. Rome in 1960 was, like the Coronation seven years earlier, seen by Americans only on delay necessitated by flying daily events to North America. But at least this time there were already commercial jet airliners, making the logistics more routine, and the Olympics were videotaped, so there was no film to develop. 

    Japan planned its 1964 Olympics on the assumption that there’d be a television satellite link to the US and Canada, and just in time, there was, Early Bird, the first geosynchronous satellite. Since then, AFAIK, every Olympics has been viewable live around the world. 

    Two 1940 Olympics that weren’t held for obvious reasons–Helsinki and Tokyo–were to have been on television locally. 

    • #24
    • November 22, 2020, at 6:47 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Richard Easton Member

    In 1974, my father talked about how GPS would lead to the Time Web. The whole world would have synchronized time. That was about fifteen years before the term world wide web was coined.

    • #25
    • November 22, 2020, at 8:25 PM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  26. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member