Narrow-bandwidth Television Association


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Don McLean restored 1930's live video signals

Our club member Donald McLean restored 30 line video signals coming from recordings on aluminium recordable grammophone discs. These were recorded in the 1930's, when the BBC 30-line television programmes were transmitted. By means of computer processing he removed a lot of the distortions and imperfections that were recorded on the discs. In this way the live video stored in these discs became visible for the first time in history.

Not only did he restore the video signals of the discs, he also researched the backgrounds and the dates of recording of the scenes that he rediscovered. One of the discs revealed live video of singing persons, like the in 1930 famous Betty Bolton.

Betty Bolton, born in 1906, as an early TV star around 1934:

publicity shot

publicity shot

still picture
At the right is an off-air still picture from the 1934 magazine "Television".

In 1996 and 1998 amateur 'off-air' recordings of the BBC's 30-line Television Service (1929-1935) were found, giving us our first view of what viewers were watching. Don McLean's restoration overturns established views on mechanically scanned television, providing us today with a true measure of Brittain's heritage of television programme making before the era of electronic television.

This book gives a clear view on the work that has been done to make the pictures visible, but it also reveals technical details on the original recording equipment and the persons that can be seen.
Published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London UK
in the History of Technology series, number 27.

Short clips of another singer.
Three pictures apparently of the same singer in action.

The faces of the singers look bleached. The photo sensitive devices that were used featured quite some sensitivety in the infra red spectrum. This bleaches red cheeks and all the colours that make a face looking healthy. Heavy unnatural make-up could do something but looked awful in the studio.

Sometimes the televised objects are very difficult to recognise.
Still another singer ..... and puppets? ..... or what?

You can read more about the restoration of the old TV recordings on 78 rpm grammophone discs on the website of Don McLean.

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