People really do still watch black and white televisions


My video camera is monochrome! If I want to see the signal in color, I just set thresholds to map colors onto the various brightness levels.


When I last purchased a piece of video equipment in the UK, the person at the till proceeded to ask me for lots of personal identification and address information. I protested, at which point a manager was summoned, and I was shown the Communications Act 2003 c. 21 Part 4 Section 367, which at the time required them to collect my name and address and forward that info to the TV licensing authority. Many shops continue to do this “on the sly” even though I understand it is not longer required by statute, as they have your address information via the credit-card authorisation or from your delivery instructions when you purchase the big-screen TV.
And I knew people at the time who were still using B&W tells – mostly elderly people who grew up with wartime deprivation, but a few young curmudgeons, who felt that the benefit of color was not worth three times as much £ for the annual license.


“People report that their televisions are B&W because the licensing is cheaper” does NOT equal “People really do still watch black and white televisions” - anywhere.
If your tool is showing a major discrepancy between expected results (in line with communities everywhere else) and the data collected the first response is NOT to assume that you are measuring an anomaly. The first response is to question the tool. Hello.


Or - you can ditch expectations - since if there are already many communities doing things a certain way, they might already be well-covered, and not need you to do it also. Groups of people sometimes act too similar to each other.


My dad still watched the news on a black & white tv here in the US, until maybe 2-3 years ago. I think it was my grandmother’s old tv, which they kept in the kitchen solely so he could watch the news during dinner.


My sister, in her 50s, refuses to watch any movie that is black & white. She was the perfect candidate for Ted Turner’s failed colorization process. She figures there’s plenty of other stuff to watch, why waste time on yucky b&w?

My nephew, in his late teens/early 20s, generally doesn’t bother with any movie pre-2000 on Netflix, although he will make exceptions if he’s heard the movies are cool or particularly violent. I guess that’s par for the course when you have full access to an embarrassment of riches when it comes to multimedia.


Well, they said easier, not better. :wink:


Yep. That’s what I do (well, DVD player, not VCR). The TV’s colour, but it’s still a CRT.

Not that I’ve watched broadcast TV, even via a PC, for years. Still pay the licence fee, though - it funds BBC radio (don’t use) and the BBC website (use multiple times a day) as well as just TV.


So how come these people are quaint and backwards, but people who maintain '80s computers are hip and retro?


Have you tried ‘Radio’?


Not surprising since Ian Anderson is a scotsman.


That would be the obvious choice if there still was radio entertainment. The closest is NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “This American Life”, apart from that not much fun on the radio nowadays.

Currently my black and white favorite is “The Late Show” with Stephan Colbert. After the first week in HD I “watched” nearly all episodes in black and white and like it a lot that way. I also “watched” Letterman and Craig Ferguson. All work very well in b&w. The late show if formatted in 16:9, so sometimes you lose content on the sides, apart from that it’s perfect for an old TV. But most of the time I don’t look at the picture, so I don’t mind.


Does she refuse to watch the black and white bits of the Wizard of Oz? Perhaps a test could be performed.

Black and white TV was a low res, flickering mess. Black and white photography is an art form.
Some of this guy’s work is really rather good


I wouldn’t necessarily say that they, in fact, are; but if I had to provide a reasoned justification; I’d say that “sticking with what you’ve always used because why change?” is what gets a “Lol, I found some luddites in a time-warp!” article; while “arduously reconstructing and maintaining what used to be; but largely died out” may well get you identified as a giant nerd; but involves that self-conscious anachronism that makes you ‘retro’.

For my own purposes, I’d really prefer to draw the line based on skill level:

One of the things that makes the retrocomputing scene fairly impressive(if wholly pointless aside from the recreational value to its participants); is that between the fact that the computers of the time were painfully limited even when they shipped and the fact that they are now suffering various sorts of hardware rot and peripheral scarcity, it takes a nontrivial amount of skill to play at retrocomputing well. Just firing up an emulator or buying a nice-shiny-refurbed 80s box isn’t impressive; but C64-demoscene or programming a microcontroller to emulate some long-buried and possibly ill-documented storage bus so that you can use SD cards rather than unavailable floppies of some weird size takes skill.

By that standard, some of the B/W TV scene is interesting(one does not just casually stroll into '50s-era all-analog-with-a-splash-of-high-voltage-and-RF designs with parts long past their life expectancy without some knowledge and moral fortitude, so anyone fixing or futzing with such gear would certainly count); but some of the later pre-color TVs are just old enough to be built to last; and new enough to have not fallen to pieces with age, so merely continuing to use them ins’t terribly interesting, though there is nothing wrong with it.


When I was working with medium voltages and currents (up to 25kV; up to 10kA)1 there was no shortage of technicians who were fairly safe around that stuff due to having worked with TVs. The biggest problem used to be electrolytic capacitors, but fortunately direct switched mode power supplies have brought them back into circulation. The next biggest problem was the HV capacitors which contained a very nasty transformer oil, and they were hard to replace. Resistors are OK because modern ones are much better and more reliable.
Electrolytics cannot really be built to last because they lose capacity as they gradually dry out, and some of the resistors in old B/W sets do burn out. Then there is sourcing tubes; some of them can be replaced with suitable FETs or even MOSFETs with circuit adjustment, but for some of them there is no semiconductor equivalent (hexodes, second grid control pentodes for instance).
So keeping those old sets going is far from trivial and takes skill. My guess is that some of these people with the B/W sets are probably actually using the portable 12V sets that used to be made for use on boats and RVs before LCD became cheap. These are fully transistorised/IC and would be maintainable with off the shelf components. (Edit - it also possible that in Scotlandsome of them are off grid or have unreliable power, and that’s why they use sets that run of a car battery)

1To avoid the imputation of bragging, not simultaneously.


Unfortunately, ATSC, DVB-T and ISDB-T all, because of the glacial pace of adoption, predate MPEG4. All three are updated from time to time, and now include at least a theoretical definition of how an MPEG4 stream is supposed to work; but the actual hardware in the field and what is being broadcast frequently does not reflect this(and since pretty much all tuners, embedded or external, are fixed-function boxes, ain’t no software update coming…)

Obviously, the broadcast video market is large enough, has enough fixed-function gear, and moves slowly enough, that we can’t just bump the standard every time an incrementally improved codec comes along; but it is kind of ugly that we have ‘fancy new digital’ standards that were drawn up around the time “DVDs” were still pretty cool because it has taken Just. That. Long. to get stuff switched out. Also a pity because substantial improvements were made between MPEG2 and MPEG4.

I think the issue with keyframes and tweening is still fundamentally the same; but MPEG4 makes it look better per unit bandwidth.

(Edit: There is also the unfortunate perverse incentive, as @tekk noted in the context of broadcasters not just using more keyframes, that broadcasters want to use digital to help them slice up the available spectrum more finely, to broadcast more channels of no-doubt-vital material in their slice of RF; but the two ways to get “more channels” are to reduce the bitrate of each channel until it looks like it was stop-motioned with Lego, and to reduce the amount of redundancy built in for error correction. In terms of picture quality per unit of RF spectrum, analog broadcast standards are vastly worse; but they were also largely frozen in time more or less since the advent of color(even then, color was hacked in such that B/W sets would be compatible), while receiver technology had decades to advance and mature.

The digital broadcast standards are much more efficient; but the change has allowed people to re-shuffle their allocation of resources for the first time in a long time; and (sadly but predictably), ‘Moar Channels!!!’ has frequently won out over ‘channels that don’t look horrible’ and ‘enough redundancy to glitchlessly recover from signal degradation’. Since this is broadcast only, no syn/ack and no re-transmit requests, the option to provide redundancy only when needed isn’t there, so broadcasters have to decide how much to provide without much granularity, and appear to dislike ‘wasting’ something that could be used to cram another channel in.)


Yeah, the era when “PCB” meant more than ‘Printed Circuit Board’ was one of those ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ things. Why are organohalogen compounds such assholes, anyway?


Ah, yes, analog B&W… Getting up every five minutes to “flip” the vertical sync control to keep the picture from rolling, having to watch all the ads (pre PVR, Betamax), and that nice 512-line resolution. The hipsters can keep it.


What I love is how digital TVs handle marginal signals. When you first turn them on or jump to a station, they can pull in a frame or two and a half-second of audio just fine, but then they decide that the signal is not good enough and freeze up.


512i to be precise