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High Definition Television: the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology

The creation of High Definition Television was a long and torturous saga, not only on the technology side in creating a new digital infrastructure, but also in the contention between national and corporate interests for prestige and patents.

Luckily, Philip Cianci was there to record the story, as he worked with HDTV systems at Philips Research USA starting in 1984 to help develop the technology, and then at ESPN in 2003 to help deploy HD for sports.

He also served as the editor of Broadcast Engineering magazine's e-newsletter Transition to Digital from 2005 through 2007, and has written several books, including HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting: Understanding New Television Technologies (see earlier post).

But Cianci's labor of love is documenting the story of the development of HDTV, which he hosts at his site, The HDTV Archive Project.

And all this information is now crammed into Cianci's latest book, High Definition Television: the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology.

Cianci chronicles the development of HDTV from the beginnings of advanced TV at NHK Japan in the late 1960's, to the formation of the U.S. Grand Alliance in 1993, to worldwide deployment and the end of analog transmission in the U.S. in 2009.

The book has a broad range -- technology and business, technical testing and corporate politics, TV and broadcast infrastructure -- in Japan, the U.S., Europe, and around the world.

Yet its core is technical, with tables and diagrams on many two-page spreads, illustrating details including transmission, decoding, MPEG, pixel formats, resolutions and aspect ratios, timelines, and specifications.

Plus it provides fun peeks into the behind-the-scene negotiations at meetings and restaurants, as well as a look at the engineers crashing to implement these new designs -- though unfortunately there are only a handful of photographs of equipment, people, and test material.

The development of HDTV is an exciting story, especially with tremendous work done under tight time pressure to prove the viability of an all-digital system. And it's an impressive story of companies and nations working out differences to create a common standard for all of our sanity.

And HDTV is a success story -- the final compromise standard is holding up well, bridging between broadcast to cable to satellite, and on to discs and to the Internet and computers.

Cianci has done a great job of telling the story and showing how all these pieces fit together. Visit his HDTV Archive Project site for the extensive bibliography and his related artistic projects.

    Find High Definition Television on Amazon.com.

Contents and more details below ...

High Definition Television:

    the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology

by Philip J. Cianci

McFarland, January 9, 2012, $45
    Paperback, 383 pages, ISBN 0786449756


1. "Being There" 13
2. Road Blocked 27
3. Techno-Industrial War 50
4. America’s International Competition 71
5. All-Digital Makes the Scene 96
6. Domestic Tranquility 130
7. For the Greater Good 164
8. Launch Preparations 182
9. On the Appointed Day 209
10. HD’s Highlight Moment 234
11. A Resolution Renaissance 259
12. An Unknown Factor 278
13. Exceeds All Expectations 300
Notes 315
Annotated Bibliography 343
References 349
Index 361

Manifest Tech Site


This entry posted on August 20, 2012.

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