Volume 3, # 1 June 1999
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:
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..
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
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
Digital-TV Donnybrook Reaches Final Round Wired News, 4/1/1997
- pdf format documents of technical specifications
ATSC Home Page - Advanced Television Systems Committee
Wired News: Hundt Plays Lonely Digital Gambit - 3/18/1997