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I think it is safe to say that everyone here has been in a home, as a child, watching TV with rabbit ears. I’m only 55 and can remember the first time my dad brought home a color TV. I can remember trick or treating with my dad and ringing the doorbell on a neighbor’s home that had a color TV in the living room – they were watching Flipper and the water was blue!!! I just about crapped my pants and it was all I could talk about the rest of the night. Funny the things you remember. Well the next day my dad came home from work with a brand new color TV – our family sat there watching it in total amazement (my mom liked it to but thought that the old black and white set was just fine).

Fast forward to a wife, two rug rats and cable TV. Another epiphany – never again would I have to adjust the rabbit ears in order to get a good picture. Next purchase in TV land was TIVO. What an amazing invention. I can record what I wanted to watch, zip pass the BS and get on with the show – it was worth its weight in gold. Next major mile stone was a wide screen LCD TV we purchased a few years back. Watching the Masters on the LCD screen was the next best thing to being there, you could just about smell the flowers as they took you along through the 18 holes. My other must watch is F1. When they would place you in the pit, doing a few laps with Michael, it was almost like riding along.

Fast forward again. My cable box was acting up and it was time to upgrade. I couldn't really understand all the fuss about HDTV as I remembered the rabbit ears and how far we had come. Well…. OK. Count me in, I’ll try HD. I went out and upgraded to a HD TIVO as well. I hooked everything up and turned on the set and I was immediately blown away again! I couldn't believe that the picture could get any better than cable but I was wrong.

I’m not a big TV fan by any stretch – I only watch a few selected things on the tube however I highly recommend HDTV. All I keep saying is “wowâ€

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Jeez, those are some memories,

When I was a kid we didn't have rabbit ears because the nearest TV stations were New York City, Albany or Hartford and all of them were on the other side of mountains. Reception was spotty and depended a lot on atmospheric conditions.

The first set we had was a square black box on top of some welded steel legs. We got channels 3, 4 and 7 and sometimes could pull in 5. I always wondered about those mysterious channels 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

It was around 1955; my mom had taken my little brother and I up the street to the Doctor's to get booster shots and we were walking home when we saw a commotion on the street in front of the apartment house where we lived - there was our set on the front lawn with dense black smoke pouring out of it and the fire company pouring water onto it! Jeez, was my father pissed! We'd only had the thing a short time. After that we always unplugged our set at night or when someone wasn't home.

In addition to the volume and channel knobs, there were three little adjustment knobs - horizontal hold, vertical hold, and brightness. Remember how aggravating it was when a plane flew over or a big truck with a broken spark plug wire would roll by and cause the set to go on the fritz? We'd smack it a couple of times to see if that would stop it and then we'd fight with the horizontal or vertical controls to try and stop the picture from rolling.

Howdy Doody, Rin-tin-tin, Hopalong Cassidy and Fran and Ollie in the mornings, Arthur Godfrey, Grouchho Marks, Perry Como and Lawrence Welk in the evenings, Sky King, Whirlibird, The Frisko Kid, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and the Lone Ranger, along with cartoons, on Saturdays and Superman, Ed Sullivan and Walter Cronkite's "The 20th Century" on Sundays.

The damned TV tubes burned out all the time. When I was old enough to walk downtown on my own, every couple of months my mom would have me take the cover off the back of the set, pull all of the tubes and cart them all the way downtown to the drugstore where I had to test them on this thing that looked like a fortune teller's scale at the county fair; and purchase new ones if any tested in the yellow or red zones.

I once touched the wrong thing in the back of the TV set when I was removing the tubes and got knocked clean across the room. I have no idea what it was but the set was unplugged at the time. My old man grumbled something about, "Unplug the damned thing next time,: and refused to believe that it had been unplugged when it had zapped me. My hand tingled for days.

I once bought a set of rabbit ears and an old red-and-white "portable" B & W TV from a junk shop in town when I was about 10. The TV worked after I'd replaced the tubes by raiding the pile of scrapped TV's at the town dump but the rabbit ears were useless - where I lived, they'd only pull in a garbled voice and a speckled black and white staticy mess with some ghosts on it - that was it. I had to climb up onto the roof and splice into the family set's antenna wire. It worked great when I was watching the same channel as the family but it sucked when I wanted to watch something on another channel and the antenna was pointed the wrong way.

Where I lived, everyone had really long antenna masts (Hell, they didn't finally get cable until about 10 years ago.) and the larger and higher the antenna the better the reception. The antenna was strapped to the side of the chimney at the crest of the roof. The evening ritual was to go out, climb up onto the roof and turn the antenna back and forth to get the best picture while someone down below yelled up at you to "hold it there" or "a little to the left." I remember how relieved I was when Dad finally bought the antenna motor and "remote" control - which was actually hard-wired to that motor - so that the antenna direction could be adjusted from a large box with a dial on it sitting on top of the television set. I didn't have to climb up on that roof in the winter anymore - neat!

I was so accustomed to black and white television that I never bought my first color set until 1980 - an Emerson with a remote control. That was the year I brought Yung over from Korea. She never had a TV growing up and she'd been fascinated by US Forces TV at the Rec Center on Camp Red Cloud. I'd bought a little 12-inch black and white set off base and she used it to watch Korean TV along with three or four other Korean families that would crowd into our hooch to watch. Yung had heard about those wonderful color television sets in America and wanted one. She didn't realize that color TV's had been commonly used for about 3 decades by then and I had just been a cheap son-of-a-bitch by not having one. When I finally did buy one, it was the cheapest one I could find.

The set that's up in my bedroom now, I bought in 1992 - it won't even operate around here anymore unless it's hooked up to a cable converter. The set in the living room is a projection type big screen from the mid-1990's that took six guys to get up the stairs into the house. It needs a converter too. It cost about 10 times what a similar sized set today would cost and today one person could carry the inch-thick similar sized set up the stairs. The one down here in my office is about 20 years old and makes a buzzing noise that sounds like a vacuum cleaner is running in the room above. The picture is beginning to wash out and everyone on the screen looks like they have rotten teeth. I'm sure it's probably microwaving my brain as I write this and that one of these days it's going to explode and take me with it.

I watch more TV these days on my computer than on the telly. I can type a report on one screen while I have a show going on the other. The commercials are only 30 seconds long and I can pause the show to answer the phone or go to the can. My wife uses her I-phone to stream her Korean dramas direct from Seoul to her telephone in color.

The tinitus I hear 24/7/365 now sounds exactly like the background noise we used to constantly get in those old black and white sets when I was a kid.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Yeah, good stories.

I remember the TV repairman; had his own store and truck, and it was a big deal when he came to the house. There were discussions, in muted tones, reminiscent of a life and death debate, on whether the TV could be saved on site, or whether he had to "take it into the shop".

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Mike, I think that was the Cisco Kid you were watching?, although the story did take place around Frisco. [:)]

Edit: Wrong, it was supposed to be New Mexico. www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/children/west ... scokid.htm

The power tubes in those old TV's would run at 350 Volts or more, and there were big capacitors in there which would hold the charge for a long time after the cord was pulled - that was the zap you got.

Nowadays, there'd be no way any company could sell those deadly things without getting their arse sued for all the shocks and burns involved with operating them. [:)]

Edit: Thanks, Marc. It could also have been a kick from the flyback transformer on the picture tube.

We had the antenna on a pole off the porch, and one kid would turn the pole till somebody yelled "Hold it there!""No, turn it back!""Hold it there!""No, turn it back!"[:)]

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Mike, I think that was the Cisco Kid you were watching?, although the story did take place around Frisco. [:)]

The power tubes in those old TV's would run at 350 Volts or more, and there were big capacitors in there which would hold the charge for a long time after the cord was pulled - that was the zap you got.

Nowadays, there'd be no way any company could sell those deadly things without getting their arse sued for all the shocks and burns involved with operating them. [:)]

It could have been the hot terminal on the picture tube also. B&Ws from that era had maybe 8,000 to 12,000 volts on them depending on the size of the tube and some picture tubes could hold it for days after the set was turned off. It wasn't much charge, just at a very high potential. Didn't have to touch it either, just come too close and it'll arc over to you even if you are not grounded. It's called a capacitive shock. A shock from an electrolytic capacitor would need for you to be grounded at some point as it's voltage isn't high enough for a capacitive shock, but that still could have been what got Mike if he had his other hand on the chassis, which is grounded.

I had one color set that I was servicing long ago that pegged my probe at it's 40,000 volt limit before it even made physical contact with the picture tube 'button'. I could feel the hair on the top of my head standing up and tingling, so I slowly backed off, pulled the plug on the set and worked on something else for a while.

Marc

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We got our first B&W set in the '50s and the closest TV station was ~90-100 miles distant. Adjusting the antenna, as shared above, was ongoing.

Also the one TV station rotated through various 'network' offerings so it wasn't all once network signal: IE: CBS, ABC, NBC. It was a bit of a mixed bag from a little of each from one station.

That changed years later when a 2nd TV station was licensed and put on the air, then we had to get an 'add-on' antenna to the original.

Ahhh ... the memories.

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