• The first of four planned provincial transmitters
    opens at Birmingham on the 17th December.
  • Radiolympia disrupted by strikes.
  • Introduction of projection sets.
  • Almost a quarter of a million licenses by the end of the year

Early in the year Westminster Council in London approved the wiring of all of its flats in the Pimlico and Cambridge street housing estates for relaying television. Each flat had a single aerial which was amplified and distributed to each flat. the cost was 4s 5½d per week for the first year dropping to 3s 6d from then on. The resident would still need to provide their own television set, however the rental charge included the television license fee.

March sees Hugh Gaitskell, Minister of Fuel and power, relax the restrictions on shop window and advertisement lighting during the summer.

Also in march H.M.V. introduce what is claimed to be the cheapest T.V. in the world, the model 1807. H.M.V.'s policy of issuing sets with only 10" or 15" was maintained, this set using a 10" screen, and cost £46 8s including tax. H.M.V. had a reputation as an up-market brand, however they must have felt the need to try and compete with the likes of the Pye B18T. In retrospect this was a bad move as the 1807 proved unreliable and gained H.M.V. a bad reputation.

New BBC Test Card [8K]New tuning signal from July 24th. In addition, the preveious single frequency sound tone transmission was replaced with a series of tunes specially recorded on woodwind and string instruments ; presumably this gave a more representative sound by which to judge the performace of a set and marks the start of test card music.

Map of first 10 transmitters [16K]
Fig.1 : Location of high (1..5) and
proposed low (A..D) power transmitters.

On July 29th, the BBC televise the first live weather forcast.

In August the Board of Trade, on the advice of the Control Price Regulation Committe, frees wireless and television receivers from price control.

In October alone 28,000 televisions were manufactured, this figure exceeding the total number of sets produced in the whole of 1947 and raising the total number of sets produced since the war to a quarter of a million.

On the 9th Novemeber, plans were announced in the House of Commons for a further 5 low power transmitters (A to E in diagram) to begin filling the gaps in coverage that would not be covered by the five planned high power transmitters (1 to 5 in diagram). In total these transmitters were expected to provide coverage for over 80% of the country's population by 1954.

Plans for provincial transmitters had been aired back in 1939. Finally, on December the 17th the first of these transmitters began regular broadcasting from Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham.



Radiolympia poster [8K]Another Radiolypia poster [17K]Radiolympia opened on the 28th September and despite an initial un-official strike some 395,465 tickets were sold during the event.

Although 9- and 10-inch screens were still considered the "standard" for domestic televisions, 12-inch screens would begin to overtake these smaller screens by the end of the year. This trend was clear as over a third of the TV manufacturers at the exhibition no longer offered 9- or 10-inch screen models.

Presure on manufacturers for larger screen televisions also saw a significant number of projection sets on display. The majority of these sets utilised the new Mullard 2½ inch CRT housed in a Schmidt optical system that would form the bases of the majority of projection sets for the following five years. Projection sets were displayed by most manufacturers including Alba, Decca, Ekco, Etronic, Ferguson, Ferranti, Philips, Regentone, R.G.D. and Vidor.

Meanwhile, Pye demonstrated a colour TV system derived from an American idea involving the use of rotating coloured wheel.

During radiolympia, HMV demonstrated a television fitted to a car. The set was based on their model 1807 chassis fitted in a metal case, with power provided via a rotary convertor driven from the car's battery. A quarter-wavelength whip aerial was fitted to the rear of the car. However a test run from Olympia (where the event was staged ) to Victoria indicated that signal strength varied significantly (as did interference) and as such a paractical installation would require automatic gain control, a feature that was still many years off at least for vision.

EMI, using their H.M.V. and Marconiphone brand names, estimate that in total they received over £1,000,000 of orders at the exhibition.
Television installed in a Standard Vangaurd [12K]
HMV television demonstrated in
a Standard Vanguard car.

British Industries Fair

This fair was staged in both London and Birmingham from May 2nd to 13th. A notable attraction at the Birmingham section was the worlds first public demonstration of the 625-line system. The equipment was manufactured by Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Co. and consisted of a cloed circuit television system at the end of which the public viewed on a special 15-inch monitor.

The B.B.C.

The BBC came in for much critisicism when it emerged that the majority of a 1,750,000 government grant for development was earmarked for radio instead of TV. The BBC claimed they would need 500,000 to bring London station up to date (they considered that little had changed at Alexander Palace since it opened in 1936), plus 250,000 for each new regional station.


English Electric

Dealers advertising card from May 1950 [18K]English Electric announced their entry into TV market in September. Their first model, the 1550, followed in November and used a 15" C.R.T. in a chassis designed by Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co Ltd. The announcement was backed by a major advertising campaign, with English Electric offering to cover 50% of a dealers advertising costs.

An interesting feature was of the set was the way the chassis was split into sections(time base, R.F. and power supply), backed up by a service network to support the replacement of compete sections, a practice that would not see widescale use until the 60's. The chassis itself was manufactured by Plessey.

An unusal feature of the set was the inclusion of circuitry for the reception of F.M. sound. The B.B.C. had conducted several trials, and when launched in front of the press it was demonstrated receiving such a test transmission. However, it was to be a further five years before regular F.M. broadcasts were made by the B.B.C.

Perhaps the most important feature was the use of a circuit they referred to as "Synchrophase". This was a seperate plug-in unit that performed what would later be known as flywheel synchronisation, the purpose of which was to stabilise the picture in the presence of noise or interference, a paricular issue in fringe areas. Until now, it was usual to trigger the line oscillator almost directly from the video signal. However, in the presence of noise (perhaps generated by passing cars, or low signal levels in fringe reception areas) would result in the false triggering of the line oscillator leading to ragged vertical picture edge sometimes referred to as "line tearing". Instead of directly triggering from the video signal, the oscillator was allowed to run freely ; however its oscillation was compared to the video sync pulses and the difference used to generate an error voltage. This voltage was in turn used to modify the frequency of the of the line oscillator in such a way as to bring it's frequency back into lock with the video signal. Since the correction voltage was filtered, a single false sync pulse had no effect and any random noise would be averaged out. It was to be several years before other manufacturers implemented the system and even then only in their fringe models.


Regentone show their first television model in May at the British Industries Fair.

In January Scophony Ltd take over John Logie Baird Ltd.

News From Abroad

Early in the year Pye fly a complete equipment for TV transmission to Melbourne Australia for a demonstration in partnership with teh Australian company Electronic Industries Ltd.

More countries were beginning to provide television services but there was no standardisation between them with 405-lines in the UK, 441-lines in Russia, 525 in America, and 567 in Holland.

Not to be outdone, France had started with 455 lines and then moved to 441 lines, but that wasn't enough ; in April France begins experimental 819-line transmissions on Band II from Paris. Regular 819-line broadcasts began in November and within a month a second tranmitter began operation from Lille.and with France using 819 lines (having previously used 455 and then 441 lines!). 455 line were only transmitted from Paris and were maintained until the end of 1957. Meantime, as their television service expanded they increased the prices of both radio and television licenses, with the domestic television license costing 3,000f.

In Denmark, experimental television transmissions begin on May 1st. The transmitter was built by Philips and operated on a 567-line system.

During the year, Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) began an experimental television service in Italy.

Moskvitch TV [11K] Chassis being built and tested [17K]
In Russia the "Moskvitch" set was being mass produced
in Moscow. The set used a comparatively small
picture of 5.4in × 4in and had 441-line definition..
<1948 Gallery of Sets from 1949 1950>

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J.Evans 2005-2006
Last updated
15th January 2006