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Radical Software, Volume I, Number 2
The Electromagnetic Spectrum,
Autumn 1970


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Despite the 'Software' in the name, video hardware was still a mystery for many «Radical Software» readers in 1970. Many had no production skills at all, or any real notion of how television and videotape recording worked. Technical information in accessible form was at a premium.

At the time, most technical literature was written for engineers or engineering students. Eric Siegal, Parry Teasdale, Don Ward, Charles Bensinger, Ken Marsh, Videoforms, and others provided many short courses on the electronics and mechanics of video production, educating a generation of video tyros to a technical appreciation of the medium. Not being technical writers by profession, they made a real attempt to explain the principles of television and video in language that non-technicians could understand. Teasdale, Marsh, and Bensinger would go on to write accessible books on video technology.

Cable television was also a subject of great interest to early video activists. This issue begins with Beryl Korot's fine exposition of the ins and outs of Cable TV circa 1970.

In 1969, the FCC ruled that cablecasters with over 3500 subscribers had to originate some local programming. But cablecasters saw their job as relaying broadcast signals to clients with bad reception. Most were unwilling to take on the job of program origination. It just wasn't their trade.

But many video people saw an opportunity in the 'public access' channels that the FCC encouraged. Broadcast was not an option. Half-inch video signals could not be broadcast, even on PBS stations. They did not meet the signal set by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. It was illegal to broadcast a substandard signal. But cable TV did not come under FCC broadcast regulations, and could deliver a video signal without degradation.

Video activists could, they thought, gain an audience with their message of change using the public access channels. So FCC rules, cable TV economics, and the electromagnetic spectrum were important issues to the video community.

 

 
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