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For the Record: The Flat Age
July 1955 Radio & Television News Article

July 1955 Radio & TV News
July 1955 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Radio & Television News editor Oliver Reed wrote in this 1955 issue about the "flattening" of electronics - including both individual components and overall assembled products. He described a large screen, wall-mountable television system with built-in flat stereo electrostatic speakers. "The so-called 'picture on the wall' television screen has also received widespread publicity although such a screen is not yet commercially available. In this system, a flat screen is connected to the TV receiver by means of a cable, and the picture is formed on the screen electronically." That is a lot like a large flat LCD or LED monitor being fed by an HDMI cable from a computer. Mr. Reed also writes of a magnetic tape video playback system akin to what eventually became the VHS / VCR. Evidently the concept of an optical-based storage medium like the DVD and Blu-ray disk was too far out of the realm of possibility, or it was because the only lasers available in the day (needed for read/write operations) were huge gas chamber or rare earth mineral varieties costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is easy to say in retrospect that anyone could have anticipated such a system, but the reality is true technical visionaries were and are a rare breed. It doesn't take much vision to write about anti-gravity device in a sci-fi novel, but it does take vision to detail how one might become reality based on scientific principles.

For the Record: The Flat Age

For the Record: The Flat Age, July 1955 Radio & Television News - RF CafeBy The Editor, Oliver Reed

Components, for all forms of electronic instruments have undergone a great change in recent years. The trend toward "flatness" may be readily seen by scanning the pages of catalogues from the parts jobbers. The ceramic disc capacitor is one result of flat design. Tubes, especially those for hearing aids, are flat and shortened to tiny dimensions.

Even circuitry has undergone considerable change. The Motorola and Walsco TV chassis reflect the trend toward flatness of construction that simplifies troubleshooting and saves time since connections to components are reached without searching and picking through a maze of wiring.

Printed-circuit techniques have become widely accepted - even by the novice. A leading kit manufacturer now supplies compact flat boards on which is etched the wiring for critical circuits. Mistakes are prevented and proper dressing of connecting leads result from utilizing these flat assemblies. Another manufacturer is merchandising a complete line of interstage coupling units, called "Couplates," which include all of the necessary resistors and capacitors for various coupling requirements in a single flat assembly.

We would, of course, be remiss if we did not call attention to the possibilities opened up by transistors in the trend toward flatness. Their small size, low power requirements, and small heat dissipation permit the design of more and more compact electronic circuitry for hearing aids, portable radio and TV receivers, tape recorders, and the like.

Electrostatic loudspeakers are now on the market. These flat disc-shaped reproducers have only recently achieved popularity. Further development may lead to units capable of good, clean bass response from small, flat assemblies which can be hung on a wall or mounted in any convenient manner.

Magnetic tape is now flatter than ever. New base materials, having greater strength, permit reduction of thickness and allow more tape footage per reel. Audio amplifiers have been flattened and redesigned for shelf-type installations or for drawer dimensions. And pocket-sized AM and FM receivers, wire and tape recorders, and other electronic gear have been developed. All of these designs reflect the trend toward compact, flat assemblies.

The universal acceptance of big-screen television on direct-view picture tube phosphors has been established. Projection TV, on the other hand, has not shared in the popularity for home methods of producing acceptable pictures. The principal objection was the "metallic" effect produced by light-ray diffractions of the glass viewing screen.

At least one laboratory has recently shown great progress in further developing projection TV for the home, Radically new viewing screens are being studied and more economical circuitry is reviving interest in the future possibilities for large-screen projection in the home on "movie-type" screens, The so-called "picture on the wall" television screen has also received widespread publicity although such a screen is not yet commercially available. In this system, a flat screen is connected to the TV receiver by means of a cable, and the picture is formed on the screen electronically. It is even within the realm of possibility that an electrostatic speaker can be combined with a viewing screen to form a single, flat entertainment medium. This will include monochrome and color TV (regular reception or from pre-recorded tapes), slide film, and movie film.

The audio will be provided by the regular TV signals, from magnetic tape or film, or from hi-fi record albums. Reproducers (loudspeaker systems), if not a part of the picture screen, will be mounted within a wall or back of the screen. High fidelity will be achieved through a "new look" in flat ,electrostatic speakers or even more advanced types of cones.

Wide-angle viewing will simplify seating arrangements, and widely dispersed sound will enhance the effect of audio reproduction in the living room. Stereophonic reproduction will lend added realism and the practically complete elimination of noise and distortion will greatly reduce listener fatigue. Remote control will permit the major components of any system to be located out of sight, if desirable, thus contributing considerably to better room decor.

Such a composite system for providing our home entertainment is felt, by many, to be just around the corner. Most of the ingredients are well established. A few need more research and development if they are to fit economically into the picture-color TV, that is! .... O.R.

 

 

Posted July 9, 2020

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