IN ABOUT five years time the whole of Britain will have had their television signals changed from analogue to digital, giving us a more expansive system with improved picture quality.
To convert to the new system a certain amount of expense will have to be incurred, the same situation that faced folks back in the '50s when commercial television was first launched.
Continuing his trip down the memory lane of broadcasting, Alan Keeling has assembled a few interesting facts about those pioneering days of commercial TV:
"In 1955 the Independent Television Authority began to broadcast their first programme which began at 8.1 pm and lasted for 28 minutes, ending at 8.29 pm. The two minutes either end of the feature were used for advertisements, the first ever seen on British T.V.
It was hoped that the thirteen million regular TV viewers who tuned in to watch the BBC every evening, would begin to change their allegiance as soon as sufficient transmitters had been built. For the ITA it was a gamble.
The BBC had already been on the air since 1936 and held all the trump cards. Inevitably, to receive the new commercial programmes householders had to buy improved or new equipment such as aerials and receivers, a cost many of them could not afford. But gradually ITA began to attract an audience.
Before the first transmitter at Croydon in London was switched on, various field tests were carried out from small mobile transmitting stations complete with a small mast.
The caravan contained enough technical equipment to monitor and radiate the sound and pictures.
These tests were carried out just prior to the test transmissions starting in the early autumn of 1955. The following year the transmitting charabanc moved to the Midlands and then the North.
The station was known as G9AED and the radiated signals consisted of an instructional caption and a simple test card which checked for ghost images. The sound consisted of either a monotonous tone, or an announcers voice sating, "THIS IS G9AED."
Croydon was succesfully launched and further transmitters were installed, including Lichfield, and during 1956 large areas of the Midlands and the North finally received their first commercial TV signals."
From those early pioneering days when TV viewers had a choice of which broadcaster to watch and the BBC were faced with competition for the first time, television has changed almost beyond recognition, and Alan has kindly provided a few of the test cards that appeared on our TV screens all those years ago, which some Bugle readers might remember, maybe even a few pioneering TV engineers.
Who'd have thought when these were designed they would become such iconic images?