Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Early TV technology

In 1928, when this incredibly futuristic cover of the US magazine Radio News was published, my father was ten years old.

Two decades later, when I myself was a little boy, sick with scarlet fever in an isolation ward of the hospital in Grafton, my dear father took out a soldering iron and built me from scratch a galena-crystal radio receiver so that I could listen to the local 2GF radio station… which sent me a "get well" message. But TV was still a long way off in the future...

In the above cover, we might imagine that the gentleman is using a hand-held device (connected to the set by a red cord) to select a channel. Not exactly. Primitive TV receivers had trouble staying in synchronization with the camera. So, the viewer had to use such a manual device to nudge the picture constantly back into sync. In any case, there was not yet a choice of channels.

As was the case for many Australians, the first stuff I ever watched on TV was black-and-white news coverage (not yet live, of course) of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. If I remember correctly, relatives (Nancy and Peter in Sydney) had acquired their first TV set for that purpose, and it was in their East Roseville home that I became acquainted with this technological marvel.

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