TOP PAGE > P9 Intended Coverage of the Cancelled Tokyo Olympic Games of 1940

Intended Coverage
of the Cancelled
Tokyo Olympic
Games of 1940

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 nearly equivalent to present-day TV systems
1937 Hamamatsu Industrial High School completes "TV automobiles"
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 to take place in Tokyo in 1940. NHK decided to provide TV relay broadcasts of the Games. Kenjiro Takayanagi and others worked on the TV relay broadcasting project for the Games, but at the time, they had completed only one image pickup tube and one receiving set.

1940 Cancelled TV Relay Broadcast of Tokyo Olympic Games Serves as a Springboard

"Tokyo Olympic Games TV Relay Broadcasting Project"

Following Tokyo's selection as Olympic host city, in May 1936, NHK formulated a policy aimed at implementation of full-scale TV broadcasting. A national project known as the "TV Relay Broadcasting Project for the September 1940 Tokyo Olympics" was established at STRL.

Meanwhile, Takayanagi's TV had become virtually equivalent to present-day TV system; it had 441 scanning lines and operated at 30 frames per second.

From Laboratory to Implementation

These research results were laboratory-exclusive, and there were still an overwhelming number of obstacles to overcome before true TV relay broadcasting could be made available to the public. These included improving equipment performance, manufacturing necessary equipment, constructing broadcasting stations for regular broadcasts, and developing TV automobiles and mobile cameras for outdoor use. The staff was expanded in an attempt to expedite the move from laboratory to actual implementation. Many engineers joining the project were from radio equipment manufacturers. The budget for two years of research reached approximately 3 million yen. The Ministry of Telecommunications decided on a TV standard, and prepared to construct a relay line between Tokyo and Osaka.

Although the Olympic Games were officially cancelled in July 1938, the research on television continued, fueled by the zeal of those involved in the project.

Public TV Image Reception Experiments

Thanks to the R & D generated by the Tokyo Olympic TV Relay Broadcasting Project, TV broadcasting in Japan achieved practical implementation very quickly. The first experimental public television transmission in Japan, between the newly completed Broadcasting Hall located in Uchisaiwai-cho, Tokyo, and STRL, was conducted in May 1939. Public TV experiments followed one after the other.

Laying Groundwork for the Post-War Electronics Industry

TV experiments proceeded with improvements to existing equipment, the construction of small lightweight cameras, and lighting for follow shots. During this time, production commenced on a variety of new programming, including movies and serial dramas as well as entertainment and music programs, paving the way for post-war TV and electronics industries.

However, during the war, many factories switched from TV-related production to wartime production (munitions, etc.). TV broadcasting was interrupted, even in the United States, and research on TV systems was suspended in Japan.