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Old 2nd Dec 2017, 9:04 pm   #1
Philips210
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Default Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Hi.

As many already know, today is the 50th anniversary of regular colour television broadcasts in the UK which started on BBC2 on 2nd December 1967.
I was hoping to acquire a first generation colour set to celebrate this important milestone. My oldest colour TV is a 1975 ITT CVC9 hybrid set.

It would be good to see some of the early colour sets displaying pictures to mark this anniversary. There hasn't been much coverage in the media that I can speak of which seems a shame.

Regards
Symon.
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 10:09 am   #2
red16v
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Not too sure where your date comes from, the introduction of regular colour broadcasting on BBC 2 was July 1967 with the Wimbledon coverage wasn't it?
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 10:20 am   #3
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Link to BBC site, yes 1st July 1967 Wimbledon.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01bs2df

Exciting times, I think we had two colour sets in the shop, the Bush CTV25 and the Ekco CT102.
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 11:13 am   #4
PaulM
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

The OFFICIAL start of colour TV was indeed Dec 2nd 1967.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_i...ish_television

There's a lot more out there to back that up.

I also recall a front of cover of 'Practical Television' saying 'Colour is Here - Starts Dec 2nd'.

The Wimbledon broadcasts were still experimental - even though they were claimed to be 'regular'. The BBC was playing a game of 'first' with Germany, France and the USSR over colour TV in Europe, but in the end - as is usual with 'firsts' - it boils down to definitions of that 'first'. The official date for the start of colour TV in the UK is Dec 2nd 1967 (on BBC2 only), but you can play with the definitions all day!

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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 11:25 am   #5
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

You can play with definitions all day.

Still we sold a few sets in that period, admittedly not many due to price and availability, but people were watching and enjoying them for a few hours a week so for me 1st July is the date.

After 50 years I donít suppose it matters.
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 12:13 pm   #6
PaulM
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

It does still seem to matter to a lot of people - especially the BBC, ever keen to burnish their history!

A lot of the problems for the 'late' official launch revolved around the studio side - the BBC had no studio colour cameras. The BBC's camera of choice - The EMI 2001 - had been dragged back to EMI's R&D labs to have its vidicons replaced with plumbicons (it didn't work very well) and wasn't ready until late in 1968. The BBC was desperate for an early start and so had to talk nicely to a company that they (at that time) despised for reasons lost in time - Marconi's of Chelmsford.

Marconi had had the MkVII colour camera (which was the first 4 tube plumbicon - no argument on that definition!) ready for over a year but the BBC wouldn't buy it. In desperation they relented as they were being beaten by other countries to the title of 'first' in Europe. Marconi had to deliver 17 of these advanced cameras in 3 months and the works was on overtime to do it. Was the BBC grateful? Of course not, continually slating the company about all manner of deficiencies, yet having the cameras they so desperately needed.

I have a Quad tape - an RF to RF copy of a master - dated Dec 6th 1967 which is the first (again, no arguments here!) 'Black and White Minstrel Show' in colour. Forgetting the politics, the MKVIIs come out looking wonderful with colour and definition that are superb. That doesn't stop the BBC banging on about the long EPO zoom (which was their choice) for years after. I transferred the tape to 1" and so it's safe, but the first part was very worn as it had been given to the Marconi Co. as a demo and had been played many times.

The above is just a snippet of history about the early days to record the contributions made by the Marconi Co. on colour TV cameras, and do not forget their complex colour-capable transmitters too! The BBC likes to blow its own trumpet loudly, but in so doing other voices are so often lost . . .

Best regards,

Paul M

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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 12:21 pm   #7
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

I was working at Ferguson's (Enfield) in the Quality Control & Soak Test departnent at that time.

I remember the panic & fuss involved in our department to get a "Baird" branded 19" model, fitted in a hand made cabinet to HM's choice of wood & it had to be fully tested & extra soak tested. It required several parts to be changed (due to failure) and re, re, re tested !

They even made a leather covered shade (that fitted over the front to reduce any light falling on the screen)

Sir Jules himself was to deliver the TV to the Palace !!

Two weeks later it was returned after catching fire and the panic ensued for 2 weeks until another one was delivered !

In Sir Jules words: "And This One Had Better ******* Work !!! "

(We had to have 6 sets on constant test just in case)

Even the tube had to be selected to make to sure it was free from any phosphor blockages on screen. We didn't handle that but many people were involved in working overtime, testing tube after tube. Also convergence was a problem that had to be near damn perfect too !
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 12:58 pm   #8
PaulM
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Further to my earlier post about 'first in Europe' with colour TV, I'd forgotten this interesting link which lists the dates of introduction:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeli...n_in_countries

Germany can probably claim the title as they had two channels up and running in 1967, but the Netherlands, France and the USSR all claim 1967 too. The BBC was not really providing a full service until December 1967 and even that had restricted coverage and only BBC2 to boot. It wasn't until 1969 with BBC1 and ITV also providing a colour service that the UK could really be described as having colour TV. Again, 'definitions' apply, but citing Wimbledon as being the beginning of a colour TV service in the UK stretches credibility. In my opinion, Dec 2nd 1967 is a much more honest and realistic date.

Best regards,

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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 2:54 pm   #9
red16v
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulM View Post
It does still seem to matter to a lot of people - especially the BBC, ever keen to burnish their history!

A lot of the problems for the 'late' official launch revolved around the studio side - the BBC had no studio colour cameras. The BBC's camera of choice - The EMI 2001 - had been dragged back to EMI's R&D labs to have its vidicons replaced with plumbicons (it didn't work very well) and wasn't ready until late in 1968. The BBC was desperate for an early start and so had to talk nicely to a company that they (at that time) despised for reasons lost in time - Marconi's of Chelmsford.

Marconi had had the MkVII colour camera (which was the first 4 tube plumbicon - no argument on that definition!) ready for over a year but the BBC wouldn't buy it. In desperation they relented as they were being beaten by other countries to the title of 'first' in Europe. Marconi had to deliver 17 of these advanced cameras in 3 months and the works was on overtime to do it. Was the BBC grateful? Of course not, continually slating the company about all manner of deficiencies, yet having the cameras they so desperately needed.

I have a Quad tape - an RF to RF copy of a master - dated Dec 6th 1967 which is the first (again, no arguments here!) 'Black and White Minstrel Show' in colour. Forgetting the politics, the MKVIIs come out looking wonderful with colour and definition that are superb. That doesn't stop the BBC banging on about the long EPO zoom (which was their choice) for years after. I transferred the tape to 1" and so it's safe, but the first part was very worn as it had been given to the Marconi Co. as a demo and had been played many times.

The above is just a snippet of history about the early days to record the contributions made by the Marconi Co. on colour TV cameras, and do not forget their complex colour-capable transmitters too! The BBC likes to blow its own trumpet loudly, but in so doing other voices are so often lost . . .

Best regards,

Paul M
Where would Peto Scott fit into this camera availability timescale Paul?
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 3:03 pm   #10
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Talking of Sir Jules, DER LTD did have the royal warrant so HRH was not too offended by that burn up.
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 3:26 pm   #11
PaulM
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Peto Scott was part of Philips/Pye by then and thus not UK manufacture which the BBC needed to be seen to support.

Furthermore, the BBC wanted 4-tube (YRGB) cameras for its studios and Philips had hung its hat on the 3-tube peg. Thus, it was between EMI and Marconi as the only UK manufacturers of 4-tube cameras. EMI (who made vidicons) naturally tried to use its own camera tubes, but they simply weren't good enough. Marconi managed to secure the then so new Plumbicons made by Philips - it's a long story with the prototypes coming in as samples for 'medical' applications - and beat EMI hands down, at least initially. The MkVII was designed in 1966 in 9 months to catch the rapidly growing US colour (should that be color) market and they wanted external zooms. EMI chose to service the BBC market (which was much smaller) and pandered to them with an integral zoom meaning no sales for the 2001 in the USA. The 2001 with Plumbicons eventually appeared and the BBC bought that, even though the design was already looking very dated.

Peto Scott was essentially just a brand name and not able to do any of these fundamental developments in the UK which the BBC demanded, only being able sell what its Philips parent was producing at that time, the PC60. They were used for the Wimbledon broadcasts that we've already mentioned. Two camera cables (!), rather iffy pictures, not UK made and a separate zoom. It just wasn't going to be right for BBC studios and so the battle was on between Marconi and EMI. Marconi won commercially as the very successful 3-tube MkVIII came out in 1970 and they did very well on export. EMI won the BBC business but failed to export and couldn't compete with such a dated design. In desperation, they producing the 3-tube EMI 2005 with a separate zoom which didn't sell except in very small numbers. Usually described as a '2001 with the sharpness taken out'.

Peto Scott sank without trace under Pye TVT and the Philips parent, but the later Philips LDK5 wiped the floor with UK BBC OB sales, if not picture quality.

Needs a book writing about it!

Best regards,

Paul M
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 7:22 pm   #12
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Thank you. I worked on Marconi cameras in the studios - the Mk8 & Mk 9. Do you know if there was any particular technical reason the BBC wanted 4 tube rather than 3 RGB tube cameras? (As we both know the 8 & 9 were 3 tube GRB cameras rather than RGB but that of course is the subject of a different conversation). A hazy memory takes me back to thoughts of Delta L or ‘Livingstone’ correction to make YRGB cameras look like RGB cameras. I think I still have my training notes on that in the garage somewhere!! Principles of constant luminance or some such? Ouch!
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 8:22 pm   #13
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

The BBC wasn't alone on the 4-tube idea - RCA also thought that it was a neat solution, but they were using a 4.5" IO for luminance with vidicons for RGB which made life tough! The idea was two-fold. Firstly, to avoid the failure of constant luminance and also to minimise the visibility of colour registration errors.

The MkVII has a high-quality, high resolution luminance channel providing the whole of the luminance signal with low-resolution colour 'added' over the top. This was the 'simple' solution and providing the gammas matched it works. Plumbicons have near unity gamma (although provision for correction is provided), so it was just the normal CRT gamma to apply.

The 2001 is much more complicated. The luminance channel only provides the 'highs' of the luminance and the 'lows' are constructed by adding the colouring channels together. The gamma correction becomes much more complex but it was solved and is arguably better than the 'simple' method. It doesn't help any with registration error visibility on the 'lows' but the colourimetry is good - at least for PAL (NTSC coded 2001s came out rather red, so I'm told). Matrix correction can be applied in both designs.

The Marconi MkVIII and MkIX use the standard 'highs out of green' principle whereby the blue and red are low resolution and the green is high resolution. The 'lows' luminance is a simple addition of RGB 'lows' with the 'highs' coming from the high resolution green. With green representing almost all the luminance energy in most scenes, the resulting errors in luminance in the highs are almost invisible. That's as per the PAL/NTSC/SECAM basic principle that the eye/brain colour resolution is quite low. Thus, the separate luminance channel can be dispensed with and that became the standard method for almost all manufacturers in the 1970s and beyond (except Bosch, who liked 3-tube YRB cameras, deriving the green by a matrix technique).

That's all straight out of memory, but I know that there's a lot more detail which is text-book sized!

Incidentally, there were reports of some exported MkVIIs having the luminance channel removed and with some signal re-routing turned into a 3-tube to save money on tubes! The 2001 would have been a tougher proposition to do that without spoiling its colourimetry.

It's all well nigh forgotten now, but there was a huge amount of work went into this all over the world and there were many, many factors to consider such as comet tail colouring, registration stability and optical paths. As an example, the MkVIII and MkIX famously used 'minifiers' in the red and blue to equalise the operating points of the tubes with the green (the loss of resolution wasn't important for red and blue). This led to registration issues (the scan amplitudes were different) and many folk reckoned that this patented feature should have been avoided!

As a bit of light relief, attached is a picture from earlier this year of two MkVIIs in my 'Southern' truck displaying pretty good pictures.

Best regards,

Paul M
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Old 3rd Dec 2017, 8:51 pm   #14
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

I used to work for Southern and remember the OB truck. In my entire career I never never ever ever wanted to work in OB’s. I wanted to know I would be laying my head at home every night! So I never worked in or on her.

I always thought the minifier idea was a bit crackers to be honest. I could understand the idea of getting as bright as possible image on the target to maximise signal to noise etc but other problems as a result.

Just to add to your excellent description of the Mark 8 and 9 GRB principles for interested parties reading - as a result, the camera was pretty blind to red/blue and blue/red transitions because as Paul explains most if not all of the edge definition (hf) was coming from the green channel. It didn’t matter much be because in ‘real life’ this doesn’t occur very often.
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 8:01 am   #15
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Has anyone else seen the first colour episode of, "Coronation Street" on the Network 1960-69 compilation? It was never originally transmitted in colour of course as the titles and filmed inserts were still in black and white.

Not sure what cameras they used but they were clearly problems possibly caused from insufficient lighting and over exposed colours, glowing lipstick for example.

The December 1969 episode showed they'd overcome the problems with excellent quality throughout.

Brian
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 9:02 am   #16
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Hi.

I should have said the 'official start' of regular broadcasts in my original post.

It would be good to to see some members' dual standard sets especially if displaying pictures.

Regards
Symon.
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 11:21 am   #17
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by Focus Diode View Post
Not sure what cameras they used but they were clearly problems possibly caused from insufficient lighting and over exposed colours, glowing lipstick for example.

The December 1969 episode showed they'd overcome the problems with excellent quality throughout.
Granada started off with EMI 2001's.
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 12:20 pm   #18
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

I was wondering if Wimbledon 1967 was covered just with OB cameras, I remember David Attenborough mentioning in an interview they only had a limited number of cameras for the start of colour.

IIRC RTE invested in a OB unit for the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest, before they started converting their studios.
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 2:33 pm   #19
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Many years ago I went to Yorkshire TV to watch a programme being made. I can't remember which one, but I do remember the cameras taking quite a while to "warm up"
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Old 4th Dec 2017, 3:31 pm   #20
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Default Re: Fifty Years of Colour Television in the UK

Yorkshire started off with Marconi Mk7 cameras (their studio complex was not complete when they went on air). Subsequent early camera purchases were EMI 2001.
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