does one get started?
If you are
interested in the history of television, certainly the internet will be your number
one source for material, but be aware that probably 80% of what see will be factual
and accurate, but as much as 20% will be suspect and quite possibly just "spin".
(That's what it's called these days.)
next best sources of material are books and magazines of the 20's through the
40's, such as Hugo Gernsback's various magazines: "Radio News", "Television
News" and various text books, some of which are listed at the end of this
page. You may even find some friends or associates, probably in their eighties
by now, that remember those years when television first began. They may even have
tried to receive the picture signals on equipment they built themselves. You won't
be the first to find someone that remembers and has a good story for you.
is an excellent source for old books and magazines, but be prepared. The better
ones do bring high prices. It might also help to spend some time in the larger
libraries, especially those ssociated with local universities and colleges.
you are interested in the hardware... You can start by first selecting something
you might like to do. Usually the first project should be something pretty simple,
but something that will produce a recognizable image. If you happen to have an
existing piece of early apparatus, you might want to restore its original appearance
and function, making up any broken or missing parts as necessary. If this happens
to be a television receiver, you might even consider constructing a suitable camera,
thereby enabling you to show actual images on the receiver.
of you with computer hardware and/or software skills, after becoming familiar
with the characteristics of the early television formats, can work with and develop
various new enhancement techniques, scan converters and image generators, possibly
with EPROMs or the like. This area is wide open for the inventive mind.
however, you are starting from scratch as most do, much depends on your skill
level and what tools and materials that you have available. Many of the parts
of television apparatus can be built from wood or metal. The drawing showen above
is an example of a part of a construction article from a magazine in 1931. This
type of articale was common in those days, in newspapers too.
contructing these apparatus, metal might be the preferred material for a certain
part, but wood can often work as well if the proper wood is selected and certain
allowances made for the difference in materials. For example, scanning disks are
generally made from aluminum sheet, but many experimenters instead are using thin
bakelite, brass or even vinyl sheet. John Logie Baird of Scotland, in his earliest
work used cardboard from hat boxes and later went to using plywood. A few years
ago, an experimenter friend of mine used an old 12' LP record. This is an opportunity
to exercise and demonstrate your ingenuity. Another part of this site tells you
how to make your own scanning disk
in the same manner used by many of the experimenters in 1928. The method used
doesn't necessarily produce a precision disk, but it won't cost you much and will
in fact work.
As a beginning, it helps to
have a plan. Either one you have developed or one from a book or magazine. You
might also consider if you want there to be a historic significance in your project,
or rather have it reflect some of you own ideas. The home page of my web site
shows a photo at the top of the page, of a receiver I built following a plan in
the C. F. Jenkins book "Radio-Movies", circa 1929. Incidently, if you
will send me a S.S.A.E., I will send you a good copy of the complete article.
in this magazine is actually about building a motor to rotate a scanning disk,
the plan shows how to build almost the entire set. This particular plan is interesting
because it copies a motor design used by C. F. Jenkins in a kit sold about this
same time. The main difference is that this plan shows wood being used for most
of the structure whereas the Jenkins kit used aluminum castings. This set is very
representive for those early broadcasts. It would make a fine addition to an existing
early radio receiver collection.
interesting plan is one using an old electric fan for the basis of a television
receiver. There is a color photo of a receiver like
this one in this web site under the heading "Innovative
Television". If you built this up just as the plan shows, it would
be a very interesting show piece. If you wanted to actually have this receiver
produce pictures, that would be another matter. At this time, I think that I should
point out that this receiver has no means of producing an image on its own. You
would need some sort of signal source to actually produce pictures. And if you
provided a signal source, i.e. a camera, there is no way to achieve synchronization
between this receiver and the camera except by constantly adjusting a rheostat
in the fan motor circuit. As impractical as this my seem, the majority of experimenters
in the early years did exactly that and were fascinated by the fact that just
for an instant, they saw a picture of something they recognized. It made their
day for them and that is how television started.
examples are only two of the hundreds of designs that were developed and published
in the early years of television. Experimenters today can either go with these
just as they are, or they can modify to suit themselves and in many cases improve
on the performance without distracting from the historic significance.
is a list of reference books:
Vision" by Elma G. Farnsworth, (1990)
Television" by A. F. Collins, (1932)
Movies" by C. F. Jenkins, (1929)
Vision" by C. F. Jenkins,(1925)
History of Television, 1890 to 1941" by Albert Abramson, (1987)
Great Television Race" by Joseph H. Udelson, (1982)
Television & Short Wave Handbook" by F. J. Camm, (1934)
To-Day and Tomorrow" by Mosley & Chapple, (1933)
by D. E. Fisher & M. J. Fisher, (1996)
Story of Television" by George Everson, (1949)
Theory and Practice" by Reyner, (1934)
of course, there's always: "The Mechanics of Television"
truly, Peter Yanczer, (1987)
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