There is a kinescope recording of newsman Edward R. Murrow in the early 1950’s. His show – See It Now – had a split screen. On one side was a live picture of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. On the other side, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Both images were live and being broadcast courtesy of the new technological marvel, the transcontinental coaxial cable.
Fifteen years later, viewers were held spellbound by video from space. Apollo astronauts bounced around their capsules and beamed back pictures of the home planet from hundreds, then thousands of miles away. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle on the moon, almost a billion people on Earth tuned in to watch this latest miracle of technology courtesy of another miracle of technology.
It is our fate to become jaded by wonder. While I can understand the pride of CBS demonstrating their abilities to broadcast literally “coast to coast”, I can’t say it was all that impressive to me, a modern TV viewer. The grainy video of men on the moon is interesting (because we haven’t gone back since then), but doesn’t compare to the views we get these days from the shuttle or the International Space Station. I can remember when “VIA SATELLITE” was plastered over every interview outside the studio, reminding us just how amazing it was we could actually have a two way video conversation with someone so far away. Nowadays it’s just taken for granted.
The last analog signals have been televised here in the United States. Soon we will have completed the digital transition. At that point, it won’t be long before people forget all about static and snow and lack of detail. It won’t be enough to broadcast just a beautiful picture. At that point, high definition television will just become “television”.