England Will Broadcast First Chain Television Programs (May, 1935)

We Americans are so behind the times. The British were being promised HDTV in 1935! I wonder how many “lookers” there were at that point.

England Will Broadcast First Chain Television Programs

VAUDEVILLE, opera and outdoor sports events are predicted to be among some of the feature programs which will be broadcast to British firesides this fall when the first national television network in the world swings into action in Great Britain.

At least ten stations, catering to approximately one-half of the British population, will enable “lookers”—as the new spectator-listener audience is called—to enjoy this novel entertainment. Owing to the distortion of the short waves, reception will be limited to a radius of 25 miles. British engineers, however, still consider their equipment superior to television apparatus used in the United States or Germany.

Receiving sets with 6 by 8-inch screens will sell to the public at $250, but this price is expected to be halved within a year when mass production starts.

Under the new plan, high-definition television broadcasts will replace the present “coarse-grain” offerings. Experimenters claim that projected pictures will be as clear as home movies. A patent pool has been urged to further television.

  1. Jayessell says: March 30, 201110:15 am

    Check the “Alexandra Palace Television Society” on YouTube.
    Many clips and documentaries, including a docudrama of the
    First broadcasts.

  2. Hirudinea says: March 30, 20115:00 pm

    Was this the original 405 line electronic television, looks like it.

  3. MikeBurdoo says: March 31, 20118:10 am

    From the fact that it used film, it sounds like it was 240 lines mechanically scanned, shortly to be replaced by 405 lines electronically scanned. That latter must be the reference to “high-definition” at the end of the article.


  4. Hirudinea says: March 31, 20113:34 pm

    Well the television shown in the pictures look electronics (CRTs) so who knows.

  5. hwertz says: March 31, 20115:02 pm

    Yes, the “high def” referred to was the fully electronic television (405 line) as opposed to the Baird system, which used a high-speed rotating disk at the receiver. The previous Baird system in use by the BBC was 30 lines, so 240 or 405 line were both considered high def in comparison. Per some googling, it seems BBC briefly broadcasted shows in both 240 and 405-line, but Crystal Palace burned and the Baird equipment went up in smoke.

    These TVs pictured were not CRTs, the Baird system transmitter would use a spinning disk (or later a drum) with holes in it, to measure the light at each point, the signal would depend on the intensity of light received. This was referred to as a televisor camera (based on the description, the cine-televisor built in a film camera so there was a record of what was being sent.) The Baird receiver had a spinning disk with light shining through it, set up so the holes would scan across the entire image. The intensity of the light was directly controlled by the signal. I don’t think there was any synchronization, the receiver had a disk speed adjustment, and I can only assume other adjustments to get the picture lined up.

  6. carlm says: April 4, 201110:34 pm

    Its funny that many times someone tries to coin a phrase with a new technology and it just doesn’t take. No one ever used the term “lookers” while a completely synonymous “viewers” caught on. While the British like the word “Telly” and the U.S. likes “TeeVee” I don’t think the British ever adopted the word lookers.

  7. Sedate Me says: April 27, 201112:05 pm


    The term probably never took off because “looker” had other implications; as in “She’s a fine tomato with great gams, a dish, a real looker.”

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