1989: HDTV

Photo montage: HTDV pioneers. HDTV is a challenge to the 1951 broadcast standards that still ensnare the U.S. Its color and visual clarity approach that of 35mm film, and its sound is equivalent to a CD.

The problem with HDTV is its need for very high speed signal processing. To decode and expand HDTV signals, an HDTV receiver needs more computer power in a very specialized sense than an IBM mainframe. AT&T Bell Labs with its experience in high speed digital switching, accepted the challenge of solving this problem, as well as of assembling a simulation system that could be shown to the FCC.

HDTV offers great financial promise to American consumer electronics manufacturers, as it is expected that U.S. consumers will buy nearly eight million HDTV receivers in the first five years of HDTV broadcasting, whenever that may be.