• The final year of sales of 9-inch sets coincides with
    the beginning of noticable sales of 17-inch sets.
  • TV licenses increase from 2 to 3 million over the year.

In April it is announced that the BBC's television broadcast monopoly is to end.

In his Budget speech on the 14th of April, British Chancellor of the Exchequer R A Butler reduces purchase (sales) tax on consumer goods such as radio and television receivers from 66.7 per cent.

Animation of new on-screen logo [58K]On December 2nd B.B.C. Television introduced a new on-screen logo, designed by Abram Games. Both static and animated versions were used, being produced in a moving version from a three-dimensional model. The animated version is beleived to be the world's first moving logo for a television service.

Over the last five years the safety of television sets had improved ; in 1947 it was estimated that one in a thousand televisions caught fire causing significant damage - given that there were ~35000 sets that was equivalent to 35 fires. Now things had improved by a factor of ten - but with so many more sets in use this equated to 250 fires !

The Coronation

  Typical scene from the coronation [14K]
Part of Ekcovision advert [100K]   An off-screen photograph

By far the biggest television event of the year was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the 2nd June.

The coronation is often described as the event that finally put television on the map. I suspect however that in reality this was not the case, although it may well have bought forward some peoples decision to buy a television. The coronation occured whilst the television service was rapidly expanded to cover most of Great Britain and it is this fact that accounts for the rising sales of sets. However the televising of the corronation still stands as a major technical achievement.

The television coverage of the coronation achieved a UK peak viewing audience of over 20 million, overtaking the radio audience (12 million) for the first time. As well as the audience in their home, a number of cinemas screened the event on large screen projectors and was also carried by 12 continental transmitters to an estimated 1.5 million people in Europe.

The event was televised throughout the day with the following schedule :-

10.15 a.m. ... Outside Buckingham Palace.
11 a.m. ... The Queen's arrival at Westminster Abbey
11.15 a.m. ... Service begin.
12.30 p.m. (approx) The Crowning.
1.45 p.m. (approx) Service ends
1.50-2.20 p.m. ... Interval
2.20 p.m. ... Outside the Abbey
2.50 p.m. ... The Queen leaves.
4.30 p.m. ... Return to the Palace.
4.35-5 p.m. ... Second interval.
5.0-5.20 p.m. ... Balcony appearance of the Queen and R.A.F. salute.
8.0-9.0 p.m. ... Film of Coronation service.
9.0-9.15 p.m. ... The Queen's broadcast (sound only)
9.15 p.m. ... Scenes at the Palace, newsreel of processions
10.20-11.30 p.m. ... Firework display

Follow this link for four articals on the
work involved in televising the event.


National Radio Show

9" sets were almost non-existant at the show with 12" sets not far behind. The most popular models were 14" and 17" sets with rectangular C.R.T.s and as a result of these larger tubes there was far less emphasis on projection sets than previous years. However several years after its introduction the 21" HMV 1820 was still the largest C.R.T. in a commercial set, although at the show Pye displayed a set with an enormous 27" C.R.T. manufactured by its subsidiary company Cathodeon.


Cathode Ray Tube Developments

9/10in 12in 14in 15in 16in 17in Projection
1950 40% 56% 2% - - 2%
1951 13% 80% 4% - - 3%
1952 4% 71% 9% 14% 2%
3% 47% 24% 11% 3% 11% 1%
- 25% 36% 14% 2% 20% -

The trend towards larger screen sizes had been rising consistantly since the start of the 50's. However the narrow deflection angle of CRT's would require very deep cabinets if the screen size were to be able to increase further.

Whacky electron gun on experimental Philips C.R.T. [17K]One solution to this problem was investigated by the Philips research laboratories in Eindhoven. They produced a prototype set using a special CRT in which the electron gun was bent back more than 90 degrees to it's normal axis. An additional magnet was then used to bend the electron beam back to what would be considered the "normal" direction rather like a very exagerated ion trap. Apart from reducing the necessary depth of the set it also had the advantage of allowing for an effectively much longer tube neck which in turn allows a long narrow focus coil to be used ; this produced a much more uniform magnetic field leading to imporvements in focus.

With the weakest part of a CRT being the neck I dread to think how many of these tubes would have accidently imploded during servicing with this neck acting as a lever.

Picture of electrostically CRT gun [8K] Experimental GEC CRT [7K]
Electrostatically focussed electron gun. Experimental GEC 12-inch 90-degree CRT.
However the electron gun is still quite long.

As well as increasing screen sizes, other develeopments included the introduction by Brimar of two C.R.T's using electrostatic focusing (the C14GM and C17GM). Although this avoided the mechanical complexity of previous focussing systems, the electron gun structure required much greater alignment accuracy during production with associated increased production costs. An advantage of the system was reduced defocussing at the edges of the screen, an increasing problem as deflection angles increased. The reuction was partly down to a reduced electron beam diameter and also by varying the focus electrode's voltage during the scan cycle.

With most C.R.T.s now having a 70-degree deflection angle, GEC took the next step and exhibited an electrostatically focussed 90-degree C.R.T. Being a 12" C.R.T., a size that was already considered very muchat the low-end, the C.R.T. was clearly an experimental design only.


The G.E.C.'s premisis at Welington Street in Leeds are destroyed by fire. It would take two years for it to be rebuilt.

News From Abroad

Picture of fully transistorised television [10K]
An experimental transistorised television.

In America, at the start of the year, an experimental television was shown which was fully transistorised. The single-channel 5-inch model used 37 developmental and experimental transistors and consumed a total of 14 watts (around 1/10th that of a typical valve table set). Sensitivity was reasonable, giving a clear picture five miles from the transmitter on the Empire State Building, using a self-contained aerial.

Norway's first television test transmissions commence on the 30th January.

On the 1st of February NHK’s Tokyo Television Station opens the first public television service in Japan. Broadcasting from mid-day to 1:30pM and then 6pM until 9pM, the 9pM closedown being so that "it will not interfere with childrens sleep". Initial estimates were that some 3-4000 sets had been installed, although later it was said that just 866 households had television. The first sets were apparemtly of American manufacture and were quite expensive, with 10" sets costing of the order of £110 and 17" models almost twice that. The station was subsidised by the Japenese government, and was followed by the first Japenese television station, NTV, which opened around six months later on the 26th August. Within the next five years, the number of television sets in use in Japen was to rise to near the million mark. From the outset, the TV service was seen as a good medium for education and on day one ten schools had been equipped with television.

In April, Venezuala opens it's first television station at Caracas. Over one-and-a-half tons of studio equipment had to be rushed out from Britain and was then the largest single shipment of TV equipment ever air freighted from Britain.

On the 2nd of June, Canada’s third television station, CBOT Ottawa, went on the air just in time to join the Montreal and Toronto stations in showing telerecordings of the coronation, the films having been flown across the Atlantic by the Royal Air Force.

On June 7th RCA make the first broadcast of its 'NTSC' colour television system, which was compatible with black and white receivers. The first commercial receiver followed in December ; manufacturered by Admiral it was exceptionally expensive, being priced at $1,175.

Also in the US the first cable pay-TV system is set up in Palm Springs, California. Another was constructed in the Carmel/Pebble Beach area of California and subsequently cable is introduced in a number of other US cities. However most operations prove unsuccessful.

In December the RCA Laboratories in Princetown, U.S.A., demonstrated a system for recording and reproducing colour television signals on magnetic tape.

Television services begin in Belgium, Hawaii, the Philippines and Switzerland. 

<1952 Gallery of Sets from 1953 1954>

Page copyright ©
J.Evans 2005
Last updated
16th October 2005