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How It Was: Watching the test card on TV

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Max The Magnificent
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
Max The Magnificent   1/30/2012 8:51:53 PM
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Something else I remember is that, following the last news program at 10:00pm (or was it 9:00pm? ... I was in bed by then), just before they stopped broadcasting for the night, the TV company would play the National Anthem, and all of the adults would stand up for it. Someone told me that they used to do this in America also. Actually, now I come to think about it, they used to play the National Anthem at the cinema (movie theater) before the start of the films -- once again everyone would stand up for it...

Max The Magnificent
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Max The Magnificent   1/30/2012 8:54:46 PM
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Hey, I meant to ask -- do you like my sketch of the old TV and test card?

David Ashton
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David Ashton   1/30/2012 9:14:39 PM
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Not bad Max....but don't give up your day job just yet.....

SteveD_Aus
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
SteveD_Aus   1/30/2012 9:33:49 PM
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What surprises me is that your BBC test pattern is different to the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission)one that we had. The style of your TV also caught my eye, although the picture is a lot more square than I remember. Some of those TVs had a square flat pane of glass in front of a decidedly un-square picture tube. My cousin once pulled the internals out of an old B&W TV to make an impressive two-story mouse house behind that glass pane.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   1/30/2012 9:37:03 PM
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Depending on the channel, our stations would stop broadcasting some time from 10:00pm (for PBS) to midnight or perhaps 2:00am. The stations would typically play the national anthem. We wouldn't stand though. I think you only do that in public in America. After the anthem some channels would go to the test pattern and others to static. I recall what looked more like an electronically generated pattern than a physical card. On weekends some of the stations would stay on later playing such SciFi classics as "Them", "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "The Monolith Monsters." I think the stations typically started broadcasting again at 5:00 or 6:00am, but I wasn't up that early to know for sure.

cjgtrnj
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
cjgtrnj   1/31/2012 11:03:28 AM
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I have an American test pattern board in my closet from when we were doing amateur tv in the Bronx NYC in the 70's those were the days. 7 tv stations, off at midnight with Quality programming. The old saying when they has mystery programs on the radio, radio is for people with minds, TV is for people who are mindless. You could close your eyes listening to some programs on the radio and envision the whole scenario. not any more ....

zeeglen
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zeeglen   1/30/2012 10:54:16 PM
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In North America we had the "Indian Head" test pattern seen here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Head_test_card The circle allowed TV receiver adjustments of vertical height and linearity, the better TVs had separate linearity controls for the top and bottom of the screen. Some even had horizontal width adjustment. With the advent of colour TV the shop convergence test generator replaced this broadcast test pattern. I remember the Canadian national anthem at the beginning of every Saturday afternoon cinema, we all stood proudly to watch the coast-to-coast flyover. Then the newsreel, cartoon, serial, finally the movie. When we eventually moved to an area that had broadcast TV available there were only 2 English channels (CBC and CTV), the French CBC, and a snowy channel from just over the USA border. One needed a high mast and high gain rooftop antenna for the American station and had to have the good fortune of no metallic structures in the line of sight. And remember how an aircraft flying overhead or a Ford going down the street would raise all sorts of havoc with the reception?

agk
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agk   1/31/2012 1:06:11 PM
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these test patterns were sent to test overall performance of the video communication systems.Nowadays we do not receive these test patterns and we do not know how good is our televisions with respect to linearity,picture size,aspect ratio,bandwidth etc.

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   1/31/2012 3:27:52 PM
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I remember the late night sign-offs, particularly fighter jets flying overhead while the national anthem played. Here's a guy who made a website aggregating a broad collection of various sign-offs from TV stations across the U.S. -- http://www.tv-signoffs.com/

Pricey
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
Pricey   2/2/2012 9:27:25 AM
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I remember the BBC one having a little girl in the centre circle drawing on a blackboard I think the Test Card was accompanied by music and the high pitched whistle accompanied a grey fizzing screen when no picture was transmitted at all

Max The Magnificent
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Max The Magnificent   2/2/2012 1:40:26 PM
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I think that one came quite a bit later ... but I may be wrong... I wonder if the originals are preserved anywhere?

Brian13
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Brian13   2/2/2012 6:14:30 PM
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Check out this website showing a collection of various testcards from around the world:- http://www.meldrum.co.uk/mhp/testcard/around_world.html

Max The Magnificent
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Max The Magnificent   2/2/2012 7:08:40 PM
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Wonderfully nostalgic :-)

chrisshore
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chrisshore   2/2/2012 10:00:40 AM
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When I was a student, watching TV late at night in the college TV room, it was the done thing so stay up until the channels all shut down, played the national anthem, showed the test card, whistled for a bit and then shut down completely. Watching the picture slowly shrink and disappear into a little white dot in the centre of the screen was generally the signal to go to bed. Or check if the bar was still open...

Max The Magnificent
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Max The Magnificent   2/2/2012 1:40:36 PM
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LOL

Battar
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Battar   2/2/2012 4:10:03 PM
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If I remember correctly, the music preceding the start of programming (in the early 70's on the BBC) was Theodirakis's "Zorba the Greek" (The theme from the movie).

Max The Magnificent
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Max The Magnificent   2/2/2012 7:08:20 PM
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I LOVE that movie (although I haven;t seen it for maybe 25 years now) -- in fact for some reason I have the DVD version here in my office (I need to watch it again) -- Anthony Quinn was perfect in that role ... I especially like the bit where the two guys are dancing at the end...

an_m
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an_m   2/2/2012 6:08:25 PM
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ah then came colour and BBC2, so that the TV's could be demonstrated, BBC2 used to broadcast 'trade test color films' in the day time, on the bottom of the hour I seem to remember. http://www.testcardcircle.org.uk/ttcf.html that is apart from the one real BBC2 day time program, play school that was on at 11:00, and used to demo many a new color TV http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_School_(UK_TV_series)

anon9303122
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
anon9303122   2/7/2012 4:38:46 PM
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My mom recounted recently that I would turn on the TV in the morning and watch the test pattern for 30-45 minutes before Mr. Rogers came on our Boston area PBS station (WGBH, Ch 2).

Max The Magnificent
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
Max The Magnificent   2/7/2012 5:33:28 PM
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The scary thing is that she told me this was when you were 18 years old :-)

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   2/7/2012 6:54:34 PM
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I guess with a test pattern as a lead-in, Mr. Rogers was bound to be a hit for some. Although for me viewing Mr. Rogers was very much like viewing the test pattern.

anon9303122
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anon9303122   2/7/2012 8:50:31 PM
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Nah, it was all about watching the little trolley. The rest of it didn't much interest me but I loved trains.

Max The Magnificent
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
Max The Magnificent   2/7/2012 9:03:57 PM
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Re trains -- I remember once watching a cartoon - -I must only have been 6 or 7... ...there was a little train chugging along from left to right ... the "camera" kept on zooming far to the right where there was a bump in the track... then back to the little train ... then back to the bump... then back to the little train ... then back to the bump... ... the excitement was so intense ... then ... ... my aunt called us into the other room for supper ... she was not swayed my my arguments about the importance of seeing what happened... ...now, 48 years later, I still wonder if the little train made it through :-)

RB3200
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re: How It Was: Watching the test card on TV
RB3200   2/10/2012 3:27:15 PM
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I am originally from the Netherlands (now in USA). Our early TV used to be a lot like in the UK. We had 2 Dutch channels and 2 German channels. Everything else (UK, Belgium) was too far away for our neighborhood central antenna mast. I remember picking up German from our two favorite weekend shows: Daktari and Star Trek (TOS). One time in the late 70's I had to go upstairs to watch the Scifi movie I wanted to see on the old black and white (tube operated) TV. It needed time to warm up, and when it finally was ready the audio came first. I suddenly got really scared because the first sound I got was a low and loud grumble (as it turns out, this was the simulated space ship sound). Now, years later, I have a wall clock here in my test lab which I had my parents send to me from the Netherlands. The clock's face is the old colorful TV test pattern that used to run the first half of the afternoon every day before the children's programs started (or sometimes first a 5 minutes headlines newscast). I don't recall we ever had the national anthem on before or after the day's programs.

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