Volume 3, # 1 June 1999


By H. L. Siddons, JR

Category: Consumer Electronics

You probably have heard quite a lot in the news lately, especially if you are a television buff about HDTV (High Definition Television) or DTV (Digital Television).

An Personal Historical Perspective

Some of you may have not been alive then, but in 1958/59, color TV had just made it's debut. My father was program director for KOA TV channel 4 in Denver, Colorado when I was just a boy. He used to take me down to the local studios on the weekends and I could watch film feeds of Sky King or participate in a local kid's cartoon show. I remembered the quietness of the studios, the large TV cameras and the hot vacuum tube transmitter area. Since NBC had started broadcasting in color, and since my dad worked there, he was able to borrow a real RCA color TV for a few months to test KOA's color broadcast capabilities. Now this was probably the first commercial color TV and cost from $500 to $1000 (very expensive for the 1950's). Once in the privacy of our humble home, I watched my very first color broadcast:

The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC: and a Peacock with primary/secondary colors appeared (not the correct hues mind you)

With the TV's color started with Bonanza!...the Cartwrights were never so colorful.

But alas, Hoss' face was blue and the sky was pink. The colors were a wash - sorta like water colors; my dad and I spent the whole hour trying to get the color/tint just right. The only other show in color was Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. I must admit cartoons looked better in color than black and white.

Other Networks like ABC and CBS started to broadcast in color. Color commercials came later and eventually, local television expanded from B&W to color in the sixties...it wasn't until the 1970's had all local stations converted over to color, almost 20 years since color debuted.

Color TV has come along way since then. It wasn't until the late 1960's and early 1970's had it been perfected to the point that it was quite acceptable. Early color TV's had green and pink lines on either side of objects on the screen and local TV studios never seemed to have color matching in sync with other networks so you had to constantly adjust the color...Today analog color TV is as perfect as it can get. We even have stereo, surround sound and closed captioning...

For an excellent timeline on the evolution of television check out the New York Times

Enter HDTV or DTV...

the next generation in television will be like a sequel to evolution of the Color TV..

"The following program is brought to you in High Definition Digital Format on NBC..."

Already, several local stations have started broadcasting in test mode. HDTVs are expected to be available sometime in 1998, but only if you are willing to spend $2,500-5,000! for those first units.

Six major cities will begin simulcast broadcasting HDTV on separate channels/frequencies in 1998. By 2006, however, according to FCC rules, all broadcasting will be digital and thereafter analog will discontinue. By that time most HDTV systems will be well under $1,000.

1990 PREDICTION: HDTV will merge with computers in the year 2000 and start to replace analog TV's; AT&T Satellite Television and Zenith would develop this system...

Today AT&T is part owner of Direct TV and Zenith co-developed the HDTV standard that will be used in the United States for digital television.

Other HDTV/DTV Links

HDTV: The long wait It has been touted as the "future of television." But when will it arrive? CNNfn

HDTV Newsletter

Defining Vision - the Battle for the Future of Television

The Great HDTV Swindle - Wired Netizen - 2/1997

Standard Set for Digital TV - Cnet News.com 11/26/96

The Age of Digital Television is finally upon us - New York Times Cybertimes, 12/2/1996

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - HDTV FCC

Digital-TV Donnybrook Reaches Final Round Wired News, 4/1/1997

Grand Alliance HDTV

- pdf format documents of technical specifications

ATSC Home Page - Advanced Television Systems Committee

Wired News: Hundt Plays Lonely Digital Gambit - 3/18/1997

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