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Britain's Oldest Working Television For Sale 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-cable-ready dept.
If you happen to be in London on April 19th you have a chance to own a piece of history. A Marconi type–702 television set, which was built using England's then secret radar research, is going up for auction at Bonhams Mechanical Music and Scientific Instruments sale. Built in 1936, the set is believed to be the oldest working television in Britain. From the article: "The machine was bought for almost £100 three weeks after television transmissions began. But Mr GB Davis of Dulwich, south–east London would have only been able to able to watch it for a few hours. The nearby Crystal Palace and its transmitter burned down three days after Mr Davis bought the Marconi type–702 set on November 26. The area could not receive pictures again until 1946."

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Britain's Oldest Working Television For Sale

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  • .. perhaps
  • a device I can use my Wii on without getting bleeding eyes!
  • Bleeding edge (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:44AM (#35721264) Journal

    "The nearby Crystal Palace and its transmitter burned down three days after Mr Davis bought the Marconi type–702 set on November 26. The area could not receive pictures again until 1946."

    That, to me, is the definition of bleeding edge.

  • Rear projection (ok, bottom projection) and a flat screen (the mirror is flat, isn't it?). Next you're going to tell me it is high def!
    • by spongman (182339) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:22PM (#35721716)

      well, it was capable of receiving both the 240-line Baird and the 405-line EMI systems. so yes, in it's day it was high-def! [screenonline.org.uk]

      • by quenda (644621)

        well, it was capable of receiving both the 240-line Baird and the 405-line EMI systems. so yes, in it's day it was high-def! [screenonline.org.uk]

        Both obsolete, so it really is not "Working" any more without 625-line ability.

        • by mikechant (729173)

          Both obsolete, so it really is not "Working" any more without 625-line ability.

          Depends what you mean by 'working'. I expect there's still a few 625 to 405 lines converter boxes around (I had one provided in a grotty rented flat in 1986). Maybe you even get one thrown in free if you buy this TV.

          And when the analogue signal is turned off across the whole UK next year you'll still be able to use it if you get a freeview box with coax output and run the output of that through the 405 line converter box...

  • Not quite. (Score:4, Informative)

    by leathered (780018) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:47AM (#35721316)

    TV transmissions were moved to Alexandra Palace and continued up until the outbreak of war when there were almost 40,000 TV sets in London. Coverage was fairly widespread so I find it hard to believe that Mr Davis couldn't receive a picture in Dulwich.

  • Interesting use of a mirror. So are the people correctly oriented because of this? (IIRC everything in TV land is reverse due to the camera recording)
    • That mirror will be performing a vertical flip, so I'd expect the picture to be the same way round horizontally as any other TV.

      • by spongman (182339)

        vertical flip

        wow, how does it know to do a vertical flip and not a horizontal one?

        • It doesn't. You need an upside down concave or convex mirror depending on the hemisphere you are in. I can't remember which one was used and I can't find it on goggle. I guess the tv maintenance instructions are lost as no one has scanned a copy. If you find it let me know.
    • Re:Mirror, Mirror! (Score:4, Informative)

      by NixieBunny (859050) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:57AM (#35721448) Homepage
      You can make the people appear any which way you like, by reversing the leads to the deflection yoke.
    • You are wrong. Buy a camera. Use the camera. Notice how things are not horizontally flipped.
      • Mirrors don't flip horizontally or vertically, jeepers. They flip 'inside out'. *We* flip people horizontally because it makes more sense for us to use their left-right symmetry, imagine that we are where the image is, and keep the image standing on its feet. Take a mirror you think of us being a 'horizontal flip' mirror and stand in front of it; yep, that looks horizontal. Now lie on the floor in front of it. Horizontal or vertical? It's *your mind* doing the flipping...
  • ...does it come with 3D glasses?
  • What is a "television" in the first place? I'd heard about it from time to time -- mainly as something that old people watch, or that my parents used to talk about watching. One explanation I've gotten is that it's like "youtube with streaming-only, and a number of channels limited to the hundreds".

    That must have been pretty boring.

    • Dunno either, I flunked ancient history.

    • Back in my day, we couldn't even participate in massive racist troll wars in the comments section, because there was no comments section.

      Also, our version of rickrolling was to call someone on the phone and get them to change the channel to VH1.

    • What is a "television" in the first place?

      What's needed is a definition of the word. Taking the word apart, into tele and vision, and comparing with known words should get us close. A telescope is something used to watch the neighbors have sex. A scope is used to see distant targets, so the tele part must be the bit about sex. So we can guess that the vision part of the word must make the definition sex vision. Fairly descriptive of what that box is usually used for.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      It's like YouTube, but given that this is in the UK and not america, it's used to watch things called "programmes" instead of ads, and the viewing area isn't surrounded by hordes of drooling morons with their egos permanently rammed into the shift key.

      It's unsurprising you might find it a bit strange.

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:02PM (#35721512)

    Yeah, that's why it was so much harder to invent the telephone. You can invent only one television if you want, but you have to simultaneously invent two telephones.

    ~Loyal

    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > You can invent only one television if you want, but you have to simultaneously invent two telephones.

      Ehh ? Not sure what you mean, but surely to 'invert' TV you also have to 'invent' the transmitter and the programming to be aired ?

      • by 91degrees (207121)
        Actually that Baird's innovation. The receiver design is really fairly simple. essentially a spiral rotating in front of a perpendicular line to create a vertical scan. What was needed was a photosensor fast enough to do this for the transmitter.
      • by sjames (1099)

        How hard can the programming be? Just film gorillas chest thumping and chimps flinging poo and you have CSPAN covered.

  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <[rich] [at] [annexia.org]> on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:10PM (#35721590) Homepage

    If you track down The Secret Life of Machines Series 1, The Television Set [youtube.com] you can see this sort of set (perhaps even this very set) being demonstrated.

    AIUI you wouldn't want to turn this on for very long, or at least not without a fire extinguisher handy. Some of the electronics (capacitors I think?) are made of paper and after all this time have dried out and are prone to catching fire.

    Rich.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      It's worth pointing out that on theSecret Life of Machines website [secretlifeofmachines.com] it tell you that you are explicitly allowed to download copies from the Internet. It's worth getting all three series.

    • Some of the electronics (capacitors I think?) are made of paper and after all this time have dried out and are prone to catching fire.

      You're thinking of electrolytic capacitors. These have one plate made of rolled up metal foil, the other of a conductive liquid, and a thin insulator made as a coating on the metal plate by electrochemical reaction between the metal and chemicals in the liquid, driven by the applied voltage. They don't dry out unless the seals fail. Minor defects in the insulating coating

    • One of my all time favourite shows! You can download (legally) every episode here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/SLOM/index.html [exploratorium.edu]

  • more details (Score:4, Informative)

    by spongman (182339) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#35721678)

    What a crap article, they couldn't even find a http://www.earlytelevision.org/images/marconi-702-hd.jpg [slashdot.org] of the thing.
    here's [blueyonder.co.uk] some more technical info on this TV.

  • That looks like a CRT. Surely there is a working mechanical TV left somewhere in Brittain. One of those could be something like 10 years or so older! Maybe that is the oldest which can receive PAL?
    • It doesn't do PAL - I think colour broadcasts at that time would be optimistic (OK, Baird did mechanical colour TV in 1928, and electronic in 1939).

      It's the long-obsolete 405 line standard.

  • I've got a working 701. And I'm not selling it. Or your offer should be really high!!!
  • The television is one of those products which has had a price of about £100 to £1000 for more than 50 years. It is cool to see that it applies to the Marconi type 702 too!

  • by Chemisor (97276)

    Such irony that it is being sold at a time when TV is no longer worth watching.

  • >The nearby Crystal Palace and its transmitter burned down three days after Mr Davis bought the Marconi type–702 set on November 26.

    Didn't I see that on Dr. Who?

    • by wrencherd (865833)

      Didn't I see Dr. Who on that?

      FTFY

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        You are absolutely right.

        Continuing the original thought, one of the problems of an American watching Dr. Who is that we don't get some of the more obscure British historical references.

    • by LizardKing (5245)
      Not sure, but an episode of Dr Who was filmed at the Alexandra Palace transmitter.
  • "There are more 18th century Stradivarius violins in existence that pre-war TVs "
    I think THAT is telling. Were there ANY television broadcasts in the US in 1936? I think there were some experimental stations in NYC, and maybe in LA but other than that.....

    • There's a list of old stations here [wikimedia.org]. Apparently there were quite a few, although most of them seem to have been set up for mechanical tv sets.

  • If you buy this as an antique do you still have to pay the tv tax?

  • that the Brits even made televisions. I thought they could never figure out how to make them leak oil. Thank you, I'm here all week!

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