Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The horizontal button was used to steady the picture.

Bruce Gyngell introducing television to the re...Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes when I sit in front of a T.V. set my mind goes back to the days of black and white sets and all the problems that arose during the broadcasts.
The small screen used to take ages to heat up before the picture finally flickered to a recognizable image which was most likely to be swiftly rolling downwards until the horizontal button was used to steady the picture. Other buttons like the vertical hold were used less often but when the picture wobbled from side to side it was there too, and between the both of them an acceptable picture would at last be reached so we could eventually settle down and watch our chosen program. During the broadcasts technical problems at the station arose on a regular basis and the sound or the picture (or both together sometimes) would suddenly disappear leaving us staring at a blank screen and rather than walk away and do other things we all just sat and stared wondering how much of the program we were going to miss this time. After some minutes we might change to the other channel (as there was only one other channel) to make sure it was the station at fault and if this was the case we would return to stare at the blank screen until it came back on again, maybe being lucky enough to catch the end of the program we had desperately wanted to see, once we went through the rigmarole of adjusting the picture again with the horizontal and vertical hold buttons plus the contrast.
The station sometimes flashed up a message telling us "do not adjust your set as there is a technical fault and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible"
then all of a sudden "Hey Presto" the picture would appear again and just as we had shouted to any of the household who, had the sense to wander away,that everything was fine again it would, disappear....appear......disappear........appear until finally the problem was fixed. These interruptions happened on a regular basis and if it was not the station it might be a power cut which was another, regular feature of the fifties and sixties or the aerial might have been blown off line making the picture all snowy which meant someone going on the roof to adjust it with someone else within earshot relaying the clarity of the picture as each movement was carried out, until a decent image was once again resumed. These things were part and parcel of T.V. viewing then, until British Relay T.V. came on the scene with their cable system that provided us with a more reliable setup, but did not solve all the problems. I installed this system in my bedroom when I was still living with my parents and as they were brethren they did not really want it in the house but as the weeks went past they began to watch it and the fact that I was away at sea most of the time gave them quite a free range. I rented the set from British Relay and paid by putting ten pence coins in a slot at the back of the set paying as I viewed so when my parents watched they helped to pay my rental and when the box was emptied by the collector and the money owed deducted there was always a few ten pence pieces left over to start the next viewing.
T.V. viewing has come a long way since then with most folk owning their sets, very few disruptions, no need for so many buttons AND colour so, to anyone who went through these trying T.V. times, and to those who never just give a thought to the "good old days???" when the black and white set ruled and you could never be sure of seeing your program because you only got the one chance and if you missed it, it was gone. No replays, no recording, no pausing, no going back, just like life I suppose.

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