Look! The pictures are dancing!

One might be forgiven for assuming that I was totally uninterested in a single moment of more television after the exciting spectacle of the New York convention, and that I might be drawn instead to a good book, strong drink, or downloadable Zep videos starring fierce kitties.Actually, it was the kitties that did it-something our plucky blog-enabler Zen sysadmin master Wally-sama said about The Littlest Immigrants: “Nothing triggers latent genius like Flash.” I found myself wondering what might be the equivalent of such things for earlier generations, and before you know it I was poking around looking for the neolithic progenitors of QuickTime….

Who actually invented TV? I thought I knew-Philo T. Farnsworth. I didn’t have to look him up, since I once confused him with Philea Fogg (yes, the hero of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days”) in a Junior High School book report and everyone laughed at me. But in actuality, it would appear that givin’ the mad viz props to Philo is fightin’ words (just ask this guy and another guy here and this dude (“NO Iconoscope in 1923” must be the equivalent of 54-40 or fight, I suppose. No, I don’t mean the record label….) and even the Straight Dope folks. Instead, it’s a rich checkered past that includes Germany, Japan, a pair of Brits, Russia, France and even a Hungarian guy, Dénes von Mihály (about whom I could discover nothing save that his name gets dropped).

What I didn’t expect to find is the equivalent to those awesome archives of wax cylinder recordings I mentioned a while back: visual examples of the early technologies of television. I’ll list some of them here, and then let you sit down and puzzle out how to make a Jitter patch that will make your video look paleo-authentic (two objects, I’m thinking. But why spoil your fun?).

This should give you a teensy view of early television, at least in terms of British television history. You can find a RealVideo version of an early recording of the popular British songstress Betty Bolton here. But I think that the really interesting bit is some stuff from a 1930 broadcast of a Luigi Pirandello Play-new art for new media! You can find a high-res MPEG1 of a 1967 recreation of it (it’s 22 MB, so you’ll need a good connection) here, and an article about the technology and the remake here.

And I haven’t even started hunting for kinescopes online yet….

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