Baby Boomer Television
I don’t sleep as much as I used to. Why?
I watch television well past ten p.m. And after my mid-evening nap (about one hour), I can cruise show choices into the wee hours.
I told my younger neighbor that when I had a child, I couldn’t watch late TV because – at midnight – the stations “signed off.” He looked at me like I’d jumped out of a history book.
“What do you mean signed off?” he asked.
I explained that “An announcer’s voice would come on. He would say, ‘We now conclude today’s broadcasting.’
“After that, we’d see film of a flag waving while the national anthem played. Then the screen displayed a test pattern.”
My neighbor stared at me vacantly. In a kindly-older-person way, I told him that a test pattern was a series of lines and concentric circles that helped viewers adjust the horizontal, vertical, and fine-tuning knobs on the front of a television set.
“You had knobs on a TV?” he asked. I explained that in the late 20th century, a viewer adjusted knobs to enhance the picture. There was the on-off switch, plus additional knobs that controlled brightness and color intensity, Station choices were from channels two through 13.
“Wow,” he said, “you didn’t have many selections. And what if you wanted to stream a movie, or record something to watch later, or show a DVD?”
I explained that those options weren’t available. Back in the really old days BBC (Before Basic Cable), viewers received real-time broadcasts from giant towers that sent signals to an antenna on top of their roofs.
“But some people didn’t have antenna, so they relied on rabbit ears on top of the television.”
My neighbor had one more question. “How do you convince a rabbit to sit on a TV?”
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