EARLY TV DAYS Aug 25, 2010 18:45:04 GMT -6
Post by cottonpicker on Aug 25, 2010 18:45:04 GMT -6
REMEMBERING EARLY TV
Larry D. Davis
My earliest memories of television are from about 1949-1950 when I had my first
chance to view an 8 or 10 inch screen which was embedded in a gigantic cabinet in the
living room of my Aunt Mae and Uncle Goebel’s farmhouse. Their’s was one of the first
sets around and what I saw was mostly a blurry array of barely recognizable black and
white figures, purported to be human images, that were contrasted against a “snowy”
background. The picture was barely recognizable and not impressive at all. However, in
defense of the infant technology, you also need to know that this image was captured by
an antenna set atop a 25 ft. pole anchored on a nearby red clay hill and that the signal had
originated about 115 miles to the east in Oklahoma City. The other closest television
station available to us at that time was located 150 miles to the west in Amarillo, Texas.
There were other stations located 250 miles south in Dallas and Ft. Worth but they were
definitely out of our range until technology had time to catch up.
Technology advanced fairly rapidly and the first shows I remember as being
recognizable were “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour”, “The Milton Berle Show”and “The
Arthur Godfrey Show” about 1951 or ’52. In order to maximize reception of the signals
from those faraway stations it was a two-person job: one, indoors, watching the screen
while another, outside, manually twisting the antenna tower until the strongest signal and,
thus, the clearest picture was obtained and the inside person, yelled, “stop!” To view
stations in other locations, the antenna had to be readjusted. A little later, development of
an electrical antenna rotor made antenna adjustment a simple operation with the twist of a
rotor knob on a box located near the TV set until the signal was maximized.
In 1955 my Dad deemed that technology had sufficiently advanced and he decided it
was time we had our own set. To my complete surprise, it was delivered to our house on
my 14th. Birthday! It was a tinted screen Hoffman, a brand no longer around. Now, I
wouldn’t have to go watch favorite programs with friends who already had their own set
and Dad and his brother-in-law could watch boxing at our house on “The Friday Night
Technology continued to improve the picture during those “black & white” TV days
and soon a short-lived innovation became available which simulated “color television”.
It was a transparent tri-colored plastic sheet which fit onto the picture screen and adhered
to it by electrostatic attraction. The top one-third was a “blue colored band”--the sky;
the middle band was “yellow” and the bottom band was “green”--grass. Using your
imagination, it gave a somewhat “natural appearance”… well…kind of ?
Such are my memories of earliest television. We’re all keenly aware of the
technological advances made since then with events from around the world or from outer
space capable of being instantly viewed in our homes. I’m certain the majority of us
wouldn’t want to go back to the way it was in “the good old days”as far as television is