Irritating cliché #234563 

12 March 2007

In PC Pro this month (May 2007 edition), editor Tim Danton writes:

In the 1960s, people were happy with black-and-white, grainy images with jittery sound quality.

They weren’t. 405-line television in the 1960s looked and sounded very much like a monochrome analogue 625-line television picture. Most viewers would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

What is more, the sound wasn’t compressed so heavily that you could have your television volume on “deafening” or “inaudible”, engineers monitored the picture and sound constantly (hawk-eyed IBA engineers would ring ATV in the middle of Crossroads and tell them that a camera tube needed to be replaced), people’s faces weren’t routinely transformed into pumpkins by viewers wanting to “fill the screen”, there were no DOGs messes defacing the screen, the adverts weren’t 5 million decibels louder than the programmes and we didn’t have a pixellated mess of MPEG megablocks emerge whenever a scene included too much movement.

A huge number of dedicated people took a real pride in giving viewers the best pictures and sound possible in the 1960s, and to suggest otherwise is extremely unfair.

To use an analogy that Tim may appreciate, judging 405-line television by the telerecordings that survive is like judging the ZX Spectrum solely on the basis of using a very buggy and slow emulator. It was actually bloody good.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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