Television 2 -
Did you know there are more television sets in the world than there are telephones? Even the television professionals find it hard to believe. However the statistics prove it. According to official figures from the International Telecommunication Union there were 565 million telephones in 1983, and 600 million television sets. Other statistics are just as impressive. In Belgium, from 1967 to 1982, the average time spent watching television by children from 10 to 13 years, increased from 82 to 146 minutes per day. This amazed people.
Our senses are attacked every day visual images. Its almighty and instantaneitly are finely tuned to our way of thinking, whether we are hard-worked or lazy. We expect from it effortless pleasure and news. A Chinese word says a picture is worth ten thousand words.
But the astonishment takes its toll and we lust for more. Images pour over us in a never-ending torrent.
Television has already modified our social behavior. It helps our taste for things that visual. The impact of the picture and its colors. It encourages in us a strive for the big spectacle. The effect can be seen in the way we react to one another and in the world of advertising. But television cannot yet be said to have enriched our civilization. For that to happen it must become interactive, so the viewers may cease to be just absorbers.
In the flood of images from the silver screen the less good accompanies the best, just as in cinema or in literature. The factor which distinguishes television from the cinema and books, however, is that the full quality range, down to the very worst, is offered to us round the clock, in our own homes. Unless we take particular care to preserve our sense of values, we let it all soak in. We have not yet become "diet conscious", as regards our intake of television fare, although this is becoming increasingly necessary as the number of chains available to the public steadily increases. Without this self-control our perception becomes blurred and the lasting impression we have ceases to be governed by a strict process of deliberate reflection.
Television cannot, on its own, serve as an instrument of culture. It has, to be appreciated that it is not well suited for detailed analysis or in-depth investigation. The way it operates and its hi-tech infrastructure are such that it cannot do justice to the words of the poet. How fortunate that there is other media for that.
Television aims at our most immediate perception. Pictures.... to see almost to feel. It is a medium for multiple contacts. It sets the whole world before us. It offers us entertainment games, sports and more serious programs. Eurovision was created for that very purpose. Television offers something of everything, and each viewer can pick and chose whatever he or she finds the most illuminating.
The cultivation of a diet-conscious viewing public will be easier if the viewers can become more familiar with the media and how they work if we can do away with the "telly" myth. Some attempts have already been made. The 50th anniversary of television affords an excellent opportunity to contribute to this movement and, by showing equipment and drawings, people hope to enlighten people by working on this most consumed of consumer technologies.
A brief history
1873. Ireland. A young telegraph operator, Joseph May, discovered the photoelectric effect: selenium bars, exposed to sunlight, show a variation in resistance. Variations in light intensity can therefore be transformed into electrical signals. That means they can be transmitted.
1875. Boston, USA. George Carey proposed a system based on the exploration of every point in the image simultaneously: a large number of photoelectric cells are arranged on a panel, facing the image, and wired to a panel carrying the same number of bulbs.
This system was impracticable if any reasonable quality criteria were to be respected. Even to match the quality of cinema films of that period, thousands of parallel wires would have been needed from one end of the circuit to the other.
In France in 1881, Constantin Senlecq published a sketch detailing a similar idea in an improved form: two rotating switches were proposed between the panels of cells and lamps, and as these turned at the same rate they connected each cell, in turn, with the corresponding lamp. With this system, all the ...