You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Oct, 1952)

Wow, I had no idea that Riches department store in Atlanta GA. beat the Home Shopping Network to the punch by over 30 years. Oh and black-face is just plain scary.

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You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

When television really starts rolling, modern electronic miracles will enable it to play a major role in every phase of your life in addition to providing your home entertainment.

By Henry M. Lewis, Jr.

LUCILLE Ball, Arthur Godfrey and Uncle Miltie may have been hogging the TV spotlight but a new type of program is just around the corner.

The same brains that were responsible for television’s becoming your master in your own home now are working night and day to make it your servant everywhere else. Even now it has begun to work for you in your office, farm, factory, classroom, bank, super-market, department store, neighborhood theater and a whole host of other places too numerous to mention. Why, it’ll even work for you in a traffic jam!

Let’s take a look at tomorrow. You’re going shopping and your route takes you through a vehicular tunnel under a broad river. There has been a smashup before you reach the tunnel, but traffic doesn’t choke up either entrance. A squad car, wrecker and ambulance are on the scene. How? Because a dispatcher at police headquarters saw the accident on a television set.

In town, you drop in at your bank to cash a check. There’s a new teller in the cage. He doesn’t know you and your signature card is in a central file room elsewhere in the bank. He picks up a phone and speaks your name. In just a few seconds, the record of your account with your signature appears on a small television screen beside his money drawer. He counts out the money and hands it over.

Now you decide to spend the money in the biggest department store in town. As you enter, you are met by another television set just inside the door. You stop, look and listen as an impeccably groomed salesman on the screen demonstrates the bargains of the day and tells you on which floors they may be found. As you stroll between the counters, you discover that there are other TV sets placed strategically throughout the store, carrying the same program. Its origination point, or studio, is a fifth floor annex in the store itself.

If you live in Boston, Philadelphia or Atlanta, to mention only a few large cities, there’s no need even to wait for tomorrow. You already have seen this merchandising miracle at work.

In Boston, for example, if you buy at Jordan Marsh, you’ve probably seen some of the Hub’s prettiest models displaying the latest fashions and demonstrating interior decorations, cosmetics, furniture and fabrics on receivers in the store. Not only on television—but in full, vivid color!

Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia, too, has used a storewide television system for displaying merchandise for shoppers who sit comfortably before large screen receivers. And in Atlanta, when a city-wide transit strike virtually halted business, Rich’s department store went a step further and beamed their wares into Atlanta homes through a local television station. Housewives watched and phoned in orders that were promptly filled by an emergency messenger service.

But let’s go back to that money you drew from the bank. Perhaps it was for your son’s college tuition. Television will work for him, too, in many wondrous ways before he receives his diploma.

If he’s a science student, particularly, television is his oyster. In class, he’ll no longer have to squint with one eye through the eye-piece of a microscope to study tiny organisms. A television eye no larger than a home movie camera will do this for him. Seated comfortably at his desk, he’ll see the entire microscopic field enlarged on a television receiver that serves the whole class at once. The tiny micro-field becomes a huge blackboard before the instructor’s pointer.

But what about his other cultural courses, you say? Classic art, for example. Or geology. No more study time lost plodding out to the museum or on field trips. First hand glimpses of important specimens will be “piped” into his classroom by college-owned television units. More time for learning, less for leg work. In the same way, television will serve any branch of learning you can name by bringing every remote need into the classroom itself.

Even on graduation day, you’ll find television working for both of you. You’re a little late in arriving—part of the overflow crowd outside the chapel. But don’t worry. You won’t miss a thing. Those big boxes rimming the quadrangle of the campus are television receivers. Cameras inside the chapel will bring you the entire ceremony.

And now that it’s all over, whither goest the young man? To medical school, perhaps. If he does, what a tale of modern magic he’ll have to tell the family doctor during some vacation visit!

Student doctors, he’ll find, no longer sit in the classic amphitheater and wonder what tissue the surgeon—yards away from them—is cutting. Your son will be only a scalpel-length away from the operation he’s observing. Through the magic of color television, he’ll watch the surgeon’s technique and the intricacies of the process.

Through a small microphone concealed in his sterile mask, the surgeon will give a running commentary on his procedure as a color television camera transmits a close-up view of his work to the large screen receiver your son is watching. This may be anywhere from several feet to miles away.

A few months ago, a Pacoima, Calif., youth underwent a delicate heart operation with a color television camera peering over the surgeon’s shoulder. Doctors in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York observed the entire procedure through “closed-circuit” facilities provided by the CBS Television Network and Smith, Kline & French Laboratories, Philadelphia pharmaceutical house credited with pioneering in medical teaching by television. This life-and-death drama was not broadcast to home receivers but it made medical history.

Most of the startling new developments in television never reach home screens, however. They’re being made ready to serve the private needs of business, industry, medicine and education, the government, the military— and you.

Even now, the armed forces are old hands at developing new television techniques.

The Army Signal Corps already has demonstrated a video-telephone—forerunner of the device that one day will make it possible for you, at home, to see the person with whom you are talking on the phone.

In Army field maneuvers, camouflaged television cameras have been used to scout advanced positions for headquarters personnel far behind the “front lines.”

The Navy flier today learns many of his flight fundamentals by television. A video camera trained on the cockpit of a plane relays a picture of check-out procedure to a classroom of student pilots far from the airfield. Navy Air Reservists at Sands Point, L. I., have used this technique.

Both the Army and the Navy use television in aerial reconnaissance. The camera peers downward from the plexiglas nose of the “re-eon” plane and relays back to headquarters the same aerial view seen by the pilot. For close-ups another camera in the plane’s waist is equipped with a telephoto lens.

On the “home front,” meanwhile, engineers are harnessing television in as many diverse fashions to meet countless business and industrial needs.

Sporting events are projected on large theater screens, using special equipment, with viewers paying an admission price while the shows are “blacked out” for home viewers. Purpose of this venture is to block the inroads promoters believe home television is making in their gate receipts.

In another application, the audience in New York’s Paramount Theater was treated to a surprise when a Navy boxing show was flashed on the screen in little more than a minute after it was filmed, via television. A complicated mechanism processed, dried and projected the film in exactly 66 seconds!

Vidicam Pictures Corporation of New York City, motion picture producers and supplier of film programs for commercial television broadcasting, employs industrial television equipment in an original process that cuts the company’s production time by more than 30 per cent according to Larry Gordon, Vidicam president, who devised the application.

“The Vidicam system,” says Gordon, “enables three motion picture cameras to shoot a scene simultaneously from different distances and angles. Television cameras are mounted to the finders of the 35-mm or 16-mm motion picture cameras and are aligned for parallax. The director then can observe what each camera is shooting by means of three monitors grouped as a unit, and he can select the picture of his choice at any time. Thus, he can actually edit his picture as it is being shot.”

Other industrial users are turning to new developments in television that in months and years to come will save lives as well as large sums of money.

Cameras replacing human observers at hazardous operations was demonstrated most effectively by one aircraft engine manufacturer who wanted to watch closely the functioning in its initial test of an expensive, hand-made first model.

Strong retaining walls were built around the engine. Another also guarded the engineers in case the engine exploded. Television equipment was installed for a remote, close-up look at the test.

The first test was to be a five-second burst of the engine but just as observers were about to order it fired, the TV camera detected a leaky valve that could not be seen through an alternate monitoring device—an elaborate system of mirrors set up to relay the operation from the engine to watchers a considerable distance away.

The leak seen by officials and engineers on the TV monitors—but not detectable through the mirrors—created a dangerous fire hazard that might have wrecked the test unit. Although the defective valve opened only seven-eighths of an inch, it was seen clearly on the video screens.

More recently, color television has been employed in similar tests on jet engines. In addition to permitting engineers to observe performance without exposure to intense heat and noise, the colors in the exhaust flames— important in judging performance—also can be seen.

The development of stereo, or three-dimensional, television by the Remote Control Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratories, the Atomic Energy Commission’s midwest installation, in cooperation with the Allen B. Dumont Laboratories, provides a harmless method for working with radioactive materials.

In this life-saving refinement, the scientist, using remote control devices at a safe distance from his project, works before a television receiver that monitors his mechanical “handling” of radioactive substances.

These are just a few instances of the countless ways in which John and Jane Doe are becoming the wide-eyed beneficiaries of what V. K. Zworykin, industrial television specialist of the RCA Laboratories Division, has termed “an extension of human sight” that seems destined to revolutionize every facet of modern civilization. And new applications are unfolding faster than they can be logged for the record.

British scientists have even developed under-sea television, an invaluable aid in salvage operations and for spotting submarines. A portable television camera and complete lighting system encased in a waterproof container are lowered to sea bottom by power and light cables. The ship’s captain scans the ocean floor on a television screen in his cabin.

Here at home, and in the light of the times, Civilian Defense forces in progressive communities already are planning to use television to supplement the work of neighborhood wardens. Camera chains set up between the various warden posts and headquarters will make available manpower go farther.

Law enforcement agencies are finding closed circuit television a boon in their war against crime. Police departments send video photos all over the country for criminal identification. And in some prisons, television cameras guard cell blocks. Receivers are located in the warden’s office and on the desks of subordinate officials.

So simple are these “industrial” refinements of television, in fact, that engineers predict the day will come when miniature chains will serve common household uses.

Tiny cameras will monitor home heating devices and other utilities, tell you who’s at the front door when you’re in the cellar or the attic, prevent fires, thwart burglaries, even watch the baby when you’re busy in another part of the house.

Certainly, technical simplification of the television principle (the cathode tube and coaxial cable) is an accomplished fact. But how soon, you ask, will this “closed-circuit” video be in common use?

Two factors will have to determine the answer: availability of materials and the refinement of cost. But both will come as sure as night follows day.

At present, a closed-circuit color television installation runs in the neighborhood of $25,000 for the basic equipment; a black-and-white system can be put into use for less than $10,000.

A long way, you say, from these figures to the small businessman’s pocketbook. Even farther from yours, for personal use. To be sure. But look back a few years. A very few, in fact.

When the first television receivers came out, the set that costs $100 today brought many times this amount. Every technical advance commands luxury prices until the novelty wears off and quantity production lowers the tariff.

Engineers and economists agree that there’ll be a proportionate reduction in the cost of closed-circuit television, too. And when it comes, it’ll be as common as the telephone and ten times as useful—in every walk of life.

  1. jayessell says: December 6, 200711:48 am

    Color TV in 1952?
    Was it the type that used a rapidly spinning color filter in front of the screen?
    I had trouble finding any information about Remington Rand Vericolor.

    That Atlanta transit strike…
    That was before Rosa Parks, right?

    Video Baby Monitor accurately predicted!

    My cable company used to broadcast surgeries.
    Not any longer!

  2. Firebrand38 says: December 6, 20073:51 pm

    I found a page with a picture of a Vericolor camera is that helps…

  3. jayessell says: December 6, 20075:15 pm

    Nice big picture:…

    It implies multiple pickup tubes rather than a rotating filter.


    That’s how the Apollo cameras (same page) worked.…

  4. Firebrand38 says: December 7, 200710:07 am

    Only other thing I found was a contemporary article from Time magazine that specifically mentions the $25,000 Vericolor closed circuit camera…

    In 2007 dollars that’s about $194,056.60!…

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