The Evolution of TV

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Tokyo Olympic Games Cancelled

1935 Tokyo Denki K.K. constructs the first domestic iconoscope tube
1936   Live relay broadcast from the Berlin Olympics: “Ganbare Maehata (Come on Miss Maehata!)”
1937 Over 10 engineers, including Takayanagi, move to NHK
1937 Takayanagi constructs a 441 scanning line, 30 frames/second TV set that is almost equivalent to the present TV system
1937 Hamamatsu Industrial High School completes TV vehicles
1938 Completion of Tokyo Broadcasting Hall in Uchisaiwai-cho
1939 Completion of experimental TV station at STRL
1939 Successful experimental TV broadcast from STRL to the new Broadcasting Hall
1940 First TV drama production in Japan
The first Olympic Games to be held in Asia were scheduled for 1940. NHK had decided to provide TV relay broadcasting of the Games. Kenjiro Takayanagi and others participated in the TV relay broadcasting project for the Games, but so far, they had fabricated only one image pickup tube and one receiving set .

1940 Planned TV Relay Broadcast of Tokyo Olympic Games Serves as a Spring Board

“Tokyo Olympic Games TV Relay Broadcasting Project”
With the decision to hold the Olympics in Tokyo, NHK formulated a policy to work toward the implementation of full-scale TV broadcasting in May 1936. A national project that could have been called the “TV Relay Broadcasting Project for the September 1940 Tokyo Olympics” was established at the Technical Research Laboratory.
Meanwhile, Takayanagi’s TV had become virtually equivalent to the present TV set; It had 441 scanning lines operating at 30 frames per second.

From the Laboratory to Implementation

However, these results were in laboratory only; there were still an overwhelming number of problems to overcome in order to provide actual TV relay broadcasting to the public. These included the improvement of equipment’s performance, the manufacture of various equipment, the construction of broadcasting stations for regular broadcasting, and the development of TV automobiles and mobile cameras for outdoor use. The staff was expanded in order to move TV from the laboratory to actual implementation. Many of the engineers who participated in the project came from radio equipment manufacturers. The budget for two years of research reached approximately 3 million yen. The Ministry of Telecommunications (presently Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications) decided on the TV standard system and prepared a relay line between Tokyo and Osaka.
Although the Olympic Games were officially cancelled in July 1938, research on television continued, fueled by the zeal of those involved in the project.

Public TV Image Reception Experiments

Because of the Tokyo Olympic TV Relay Broadcasting Project, TV broadcasting in Japan achieved a practical implementation level within a short period. May 13, 1939 saw the first public television transmission experiment in Japan, between the newly completed Broadcasting Hall in Uchisaiwai-cho, Tokyo, and STRL. This was followed by another public experiment using two image receiving sets on August 19 and 29 at the “Koa Telecommunications Exhibition” held at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Later, in March 1940, a number of TV experiments were performed, including one held during the “Splendid Technology Exhibition” at the Industrial Hall in Ueno, Tokyo.

Ground Work Laid for Post-war Electronics Industry

TV experiments proceeded with improvements to existing equipment and the fabrication of small lightweight cameras and lighting for capturing images while on the move. A variety of programs, such as movies, entertainment and music, were produced. The production of TV dramas also started. The foundation for the post-war TV and electronics industries was laid during this time.
However, during the war, many of the TV industries were switched to munitions industries, and TV broadcasting was interrupted even in the United States. Research on TV systems was suspended in Japan.

1. “Can you see me clearly?” Public TV image reception experiment (1939)
2. The first TV dramas: the 12-minute, “Yuge-mae (Before Supper)”


Outside broadcasting vans called TV automobiles (from left to right, image receiving vehicle, sound transmitting vehicle, video transmitting vehicle, and imaging vehicle)


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