When televisions first came out, they were very basic and most of the time could be serviced in the viewers home. The first televisions had a very washed out picture that wasn’t very crisp at all. Maintaining a good signal involved adjusting the antenna numerous times during the coarse of a viewing day.
Earlier televisions in most cases could be serviced in the home by the owner of the television. Inside the set there were a series of transparent glass tubes the size of salt & pepper shakers. If one of these tubes went bad, it was usually apparent by the tube showing a fogged glass or chrome like burn mark inside the glass. Replacing the tubes were very easy. They simply unplugged from the inside of the set as easily as unplugging a lamp, then plugging the new tube in, in it’s place. For tubes that were a little harder to diagnose as bad, you used a device called a tube tester. Back in the early days tube testers were available in all television repair shops and most major drug stores and were free to use by the public.
Earlier televisions also had another feature that was rather un-enjoyable to deal with compared to the sets of today. This feature was known as the fine tuner. This was usually a ring dial located around the channel selector knob and was responsible for fine tuning the signal for it’s strongest reception.
It didn’t take long for the introduction of color televisions, but they came with a price … a very expensive price. Many of the later color televisions came out incorporated into a piece of wooden furniture just under waist high and shaped much like a square dresser which became known as the console television which stood on the floor. Some console televisions had a set of shutters (or doors) that closed over the television screen when the set wasn’t being used but most console televisions didn’t have this feature and the screen was always exposed to the room it was in.
Then came some of the first big screen televisions. These came out as projection televisions which used projector technology to produce the viewable picture. This was done using three different projectors which aimed at the television screen from the front of the set, not the inside of the set. The three projectors had to work very well together or the image seen on the screen would be affected. Not the type of television for a home that is full of kids and pets. This was a very expensive type of television. Then came the big screen televisions that were self contained with all it’s components inside the unit.
Televisions next step in technology was stereo sound. Even though television stations weren’t broadcasting in stereo at that time, stereo televisions were being manufactured because a great deal of video tape movies were being brought out on BETA-Max & VHS in stereo format.
Flat screens and plasma screens are some of the latest sets on the market as far as the old non-digital technology. A lot of these sets come in different sizes and can get pretty big. In fact I know of one home that has a large flat screen television on a wall with a set of retractable curtains installed over it as if it were a window. This television is about 4 feet across.
Now in February 2009, television technology will change like it’s never changed before. It will change in such a way that everyone will have to buy equipment. On that month television stations across America will be shutting off the old signal we’ve become used to for decades and decades and only digital signals will be broadcast from that point forward. You will be put in the position of buying either a HD television or a converter box to hook up to your old set. Unless of coarse if you have a subscription service like cable or satellite. Then you would be okay. Otherwise you will be buying equipment.
There are some up sides to HD television. The extra free channels for one. We’ll use channel 36 in Milwaukee Wisconsin for example. With the old signal and old television, you can receive channel 36 as just a single channel. However, with HDTV people in Milwaukee are receiving eight channel 36’s. That’s right. 36-1, 36-2, 36-3, 36-4, 36-5, 36-6, 36-7 & 36-8; All of them broadcasting different programming with totally crisp pictures. Another thing with HDTV is there won’t be any ghosting images or image reception disfigurement. With HDTV, either the picture is there, or it isn’t. There is no in-between. (Yes, I am the proud owner of a HDTV)
In February 2009 all old televisions that aren’t HDTV will become out dated overnight. That means a lot of televisions in homes, offices, waiting rooms, hospitals, schools, coach buses, limousines and much more will be old stuff. Heaven help our landfills.
HDTV is still breaking news and relatively new and already there are researchers working on the signal technology to improve it. These researchers are currently exploring the possibility of sending broadcasts from tower to tower to saturate a viewing area or metropolitan area, … much like the way your new digital cell phone works. Keep in mind this is just in the research stage. We’ll have to wait and see if the idea becomes a success and is used or if it flops.
I’ve been asked in casual conversations on this topic if I think the switch to HDTV is going to have any impact at all on the remaining sales of ‘VHS’ movies that are still out there.
My answer, … “I believe so.” The reason for my answer is, … there are tons and tons of ‘combo televisions’ out there that are the old televisions with built in VHS tape players. These units are everywhere. Buildings, limo’s, buses, campers, conversion vans and more. Once these sets become outdated, do you think the owner is going to by more movies on VHS even though most places are offering them at low low prices? In most cases, ‘of coarse not’. Most people with these combo units will use this opportunity to swap up the equipment to be current with the technology.
You can buy HDTV’s with built in disk players, but you can’t buy HDTV’s with a built in VHS player. Yes I believe the lost use of these combo units will have a impact on the remaining VHS Movie’s. Not a land slide of coarse, but enough of a effect to bring the VHS technology one step closer to it’s final resting place next to it’s relatives the reel to reel tape decks, the old 2-track tapes, 8-track tapes, 8-mm movies, beta, and cassette tapes.
Does the HDTV antenna madness have you wondering if you’ll be able to receive the new digital signal on your new HDTV without buying some space age looking antenna that you’ve never seen before.
Relax. Don’t worry about the antenna. Since I bought my set 2 years ago, I’ve been experimenting with the reception to see what all the hype is about. Trust me, don’t fuss or worry. If you live in a metropolitan area, a standard set of rabbit ears will do the job. If you are a person that has a roof antenna, go ahead and use it. I must point out though, if you use rabbit ears, Don’t have the antenna rods extended out all the way. (another wards the whole 3 or 4 feet) the farthest you want them extended is half way at the most (roughly 2 feet at the most depending on how far in or out of the metro area you are). I live about 23 miles from the nearest television tower. My rabbit ears were pushed in to a length of about 14 inches. I can receive every digital station available to me. No ghosting, no hallows, no flickering and no picture jitter, … and I haven’t touched my rabbit ears since. Once I set it up for the best position, it was good. Done deal. I never have to readjust them unless I move furniture for cleaning (then I just put them back the way I had them. very carefree technology).
Reporter Joseph Toth
Washington Micro Bank BBS