My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surfin’: An Extremely Long Delayed Echo

This week, Surfin’ discovers the truth about a radio urban legend that was too good to be true.


  1. Stan,

    You've broken my heart with the debunking of the Texas TV story. I've enjoyed it for years, and while not knowing how it could have happened, really liked it...

    Thanks for a good column, any way!


    David, WA1OUI

  2. David although I am not a big fan of I will say the point they made several paragraphs down (boy talk about burying the lead) was really all that needed to be said. Plain and simple the refresh rates of their TV and our were simple incompatible with each other. The need to have a stable timing source of to beginning and end of frames dictated the use of the frequency of the AC lines, and since they are 50Hz while we are 60Hz this simply would have made it impossible. I am not attempting one ups-manship being a GROL as well as an Extra Class, but this was part of our training in Broadcast to understand the format of a Broadcast TV Signal with things like Vertical & Horizontal Synchronization as well as Color Sync which obviously came later. I find it really interesting that even back in the 1950"s this wasn't the first thing someone brought up. Am I missing something about this early version as I was born in 1956? The fact the amount of lines per frame differ as well is important, but someone with even limited knowledge of the formatting of a TV signal should have jumped on the 50Hz vs. 60Hz even in the mid 1950's as many American had traveled to Europe during WW2 back in the days before TV was wide spread their still was the fundamental differences of 220V 50Hz vs. North American 110V 60Hz. Just seems odd this wasn't instantly debunked even without the OMG! Factor of how can VHF TV (54Mhz to 84Mhz for lower channels available back then) Travel that far? Again please let me know if I missed something or making bad assumptions.


  3. I am unsure if my previous post made it so again the 50Hz versus 60Hz should have immediately jumped out with anyone whole understand how a TV actually works as I assume the person at Houston should have.

  4. Although only said "incompatible" which I mentioned to include 50Hz versus 60Hz refresh rate I might have left out that the amount of lines per picture frame of 525 USA versus the 625 UK (and I believe Russia as well)would cause the picture to be incorrectly formatted which going from UK to USA seems to crop the picture, and going the other way seems to stretch it or not fill up the whole area.
    This I believe caused lots of problems in the early days for the likes of PBS which was among one of the first to show programming from the BBC in the USA. It is even more interesting that The Chrysler Corporation didn't see all these issues when doing their evaluation? Again WOW ! I guess P.T. Barnum really understood human nature better than we give him credit for.