The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

The TV

November 17th, 2008 . by Alexander Fisher

I have almost always been in a business related to TV since I was sixteen. I started working for Hobart Francis at Francis Radio and TV, an RCA dealer in London, Ohio then. I worked for him on and off for about eight years. Later I got into cable television. I have pretty much been a cable guy in one form or another ever since. I worked as a microwave television broadcast engineer for a number of years.

tv2I’ve always been interested in video hardware. I still enjoy hooking up video systems. The complexity of systems I have built ranges all the way to QAM digital. I am an expert at analog television and distribution networks. Currently I help construct modern bi-directional coaxial networks, but I would have to say most of what I know was originally inspired by one thing.
The TV.

I had a Zenith baseband video/audio system in the 1980’s that was built out of individual components, like a home stereo system. It was all standard audio component size too. I believe that is the niche Zenith was trying to fill with it. They wanted to replace mid-grade audio systems and begin to integrate audio components with video gear. Not a bad idea. Maybe a little too ahead of its time.

It was a line of  TV’s that Zenith made for a short period called VHT, for Video High Tech. It had a baseband  cable ready tuner, a baseband video/stereo audio /RF switching unit, and a separate 19" RGB monitor. The retail price of the Zenith components alone were about $1200, and that was about 1984.

It also had it’s own stereo amp and speakers. It had many standard audio amp features, but was only about 25 watts per channel. I used my higher powered stereo for the TV usually. Later I bought a surround decoder and used the Zenith amp with it. I probably had close to $3000 in the whole system in the end.

The real amazing part was the wiring. It could take me up to eight hours to rewire it anytime I wanted to change something.

I had both VHS hi-fi and Beta hi-fi VCR’s. When stereo TV became available I bought the matching Zenith stereo adapter, which also had a stereo amp in it. That actually made it easier to use without having to turn the whole stereo on just to get the sound to work. Later I replaced the Beta VCR with a Super Beta.

I guess you should’ve seen it from the rear to really understand how different it was. The RF and baseband cables were large bundles of ty-wrapped information highways neatly routed to each component, usually.

One thing I got from it was a deeper understanding of home entertainment electronics. Being a cable guy, that wasn’t a bad thing. It definitely was directly related to many of the things I did later on the job.

My current TV system is very elaborate, but never will it ever have the flexibility that the Zenith and its distribution switching could provide. Not that I need that much anymore. I also had to write a manual for this TV for my wife so she could use it. I don’t want that responsibility anymore.

This is the "best" photo I have of the rear of that TV (1993 ?)


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