Saturday, January 24, 2009

blame me for digital broadcast TV

True, me being responsible for digital TV is really a huge stretch, monumental, tectonic. But, heh, I'm used to it; I can take it, so go ahead and blame me.

You see, back in the mid-to-late eighties, I spent some time hanging out on CompuServe, originally for the Atari forum, but gradually giving more attention to the Whole Earth forum, hosted by Tom Mandel of SRI. It was about the same time CompuServe decided to close down that forum that I joined The WELL for the first time.

Anyway, Tom popped off the question why computer monitors weren't up to the quality of television, and several of us shot back that it wasn't the hardware, which typically had higher specs than TVs, but the signals generated by computers, because they actually had to synthesize those signals instead of it all just being a recording or a live image. This was followed by a brief discussion of character based displays versus bit-mapping, as well as then emerging analog HD television technologies.

It was then, dismayed at the prospect of having to go through two or more such transitions, that I asked the fateful question, "When are we going to get digital broadcast?" I don't know for a fact that Tom ever passed along that question, but he was certainly well positioned to do so.

Here we are twenty-something years later and analog TV is about to be shut down, and the radio spectrum it used reallocated. I can't help but wonder whether I was the flapping butterfly that set this storm in motion. Nah, what's the chance of that?

Update: Congress has approved the delay of the switchover until June 12th.

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