AD-HDTV Origins (Sarnoff, Thomson, Philips, NBC)
1982 - 1985 Early Work on HDTV
Following NHK's demonstration of HDTV at the SMPTE convention in 1982, work begins at Sarnoff/RCA Labs on subsampling and and analog component signal transmission, using approaches similar to what would become NHK's MUSE system and the European HD-MAC system in the late 1980s.
1985 - 1987 Digital Video Interactive
Pioneering work in digital video compression was underway at Sarnoff, in the context of an RCA Home Computer project. The team developed the DIgital Video Interactive (DVI) system and demonstrated the world's first video playback from a CD-ROM. Following the purchase of RCA by general Electric, the DVI technology and team was spun out to Intel.
1989 - Work on Digital Television System Concepts Begin
1989 - Work on digital television system concepts begins and visionary concepts are articulated
1990 - Key Technical Elements for Digital Simulcast System Emerge
early 1990 – Work on digital simulcast concepts and key technical elements is underway, with vigorous internal debate
July 7, 1990 - Progress Report to Erich Geiger (Reitmeier) reports parallel efforts underway at Sarnoff and Briarcliff to find the
best technical approaches. There are seven projects on video data compression and three projects on digital data transmission
July 13, 1990 - Digital Hierarchy data packet concept (Reitmeier) articulates the concept of scalable coding
Aug 1, 1990 - RF modem project plans memo (White) details project plans for 16-QAM and work towards 64-QAM
Aug 3, 1990 - ATRC August 1 meeting summary (Ng) reports on the progress of the various video compression efforts
Sept 1, 1990 - ATRC Digital Simulcast Steering Commitee Aug 31 meeting summary (Reitmeier) executive progress report
Sept 6, 1990 - ATRC Sept 5 meeting summary (Ng) reports on the progress of the various video compression efforts
Oct 10, 1990 - ATRC Digital Simulcast Report to Wiley (Reitmeier) outlines ATRC vision and approach for a digital simulcast system
Oct 31, 1990 - ATRC Digital Simulcast Project Review (Reitmeier) ATRC Video Compression and RF Transmission shootouts
Dec 4, 1990 - Digital Simulcast and Skycable project discussion (Reitmeier) Skycable was the beginning of DirecTV
Dec 5, 1990 - ATRC Tech Shootout Invitations are sent to key executives and technical experts
Dec 10, 1990 - ATRC Video Compression and RF Transmission Technical Shootouts are conducted
Dec 12, 1990 - ATRC discusses the results of the Video Compression and RF Transmission shootouts, evaluates its Strategic Options and makes key decisions about its key Digital Simulcast system technologies.
The Video Compression shootout results, conclude that 20 Mbps should be sufficient for HDTV and that MPEG-1 should be the basis for video compression, but with compression improvements and adapted for a two-tier transmission system in order to avoid the "digital cliff" failure effect.
The RF Transmission shootout results conclude that QAM can achieve a better low-signal level performance than OFDM. For a simulcast system, low-power digital operation is critical to achieve low interference into NTSC co-channel signals. However, signal signals are especially vulnerable to interference from the higher-power analog NTSC signals, especially the picture carrier. A twin-QAM approach is selected to provide immunity to analog interference and also to allow for two different digital power levels, one withe more robust transmission.
1991 - Advanced Digital HDTV System
1991 - ATRC positions its Advanced Compatible Television (ACTV) system as it proposes Advanced Digital HDTV (AD-HDTV)
Jan 04, 1991 - PR planning for NAB messaging begins (Gray)
Jan 04, 1991 - Advanced Digital Television 1991 project plan presentation (Reitmeier)
Jan 30, 1991 -- NAB preparations begin
Feb 12, 1991 - Digital TV OSI Layers chart
Feb 5, 1991 - ADTV Progress Report summarizes project accomplishments
"... During the past six months, the concept of digital HDTV has moved from a few small technology development activities to a major development program. Setting the stage for this transition were advances in both data compression and RF transmission that showed the basic feasibility of a digital approach. In RF transmission, two independent efforts (at Sarnoff and Thomson-LER) showed that data rates on the order of 20-30 Mbps could be transmitted in the 6 MHz broadcast channel. In data compression, independent computer simulations (at Sarnoff, Philips-Briarcliff, TCE-LA, TCE-Hannover, and Philips-Paris) showed that both DCT-based and SubBand-based compression approaches could achieve HDTV picture quality within the bit rate of the RF transmission. By August 1990, it became clear that digital was the right way to achieve HDTV..."
Feb 06, 1991 - Rationale for ADTV white paper explains fundamental system design principles
Feb 27, 1991 - ADTV Pre-Certification System Description is submitted to ACATS
March 21, 1991 - ADTV system pre-certification presentation to ACATS (known as "hellweek") - Reitmeier
March 26, 1991 - Response to questions from ACATS SS-WP1 committee members
April 1991 - ADTV system presentation at NAB 91 (Reitmeier, Basile)
May 10, 1991 - internal design review
May 20, 1991 Prestation to Erich Geiger (Thomson)
1991 – full descriptions of the four digital systems are submitted and presented to ACATS for "certification" as being deemed viable and worthy of testing
Advanced Digital HDTV
April 1991 - AD-HDTV and ACTV at NAB 91
NAB 91 was the first public demonstration of simulated picture clips from the AD-HDTV system. Advanced Compatible Television (ACTV) remained the primary focus of the ATRC
May - Sept 1991 - AD-HDTV enters the harware design phase. It is a massive "moon shot" effort to design a prototype implementation for what was probably the most complex television system that had ever been conceived at the time
May 10, 1991 - internal design review kickoff (Reitmeier)
May 20, 1991 - System Design Progress Report Presentation to Erich Geiger (Thomson) - (Raychauduri)
June 17, 1991 - Approach for Digital Television on Cable systems (Reitmeier)
Aug 24, 1991 - Mid-course corrections to AD-HDTV project plan
AD-HDTV Prototype Hardware Design
1992 AD-HDTV System Integration and Testing
Jan 31, 1992 - ATRC press release AD-HDTV certified for testing
Feb 18, 1992 - ATRC plan to enlist computer industry support for AD-HDTV
April 1992 - AD-HDTV at NAB 92
NAB 92 unleashed a tremendously competitive set of booths and demosnstrations, as the competing proponent systems
Jan - June 1992 - AD-HDTV System Integration at Sarnoff Field Lab
AD-HDTV at the Advanced Television Test Center
First HDTV - NTSC Simulcast at WRC-TV
1992 – After completing its testing, ATRC demonstrates the world’s first simulcast of analog NTSC TV and digital HDT, at NBC's WRC-TV station in Washington, featuring WRC's live news and up- and down-conversion between high definition and standard definition. This was the precedent for the industry's subsequent analog to digital transition.
Proposed System Improvements
Nov 1992 – After its test results are released, system improvements are proposed to demonstrate more system flexibility in the prototype hardware and to correct performance issues encountered in testing.
Dec 21, 1992 - ATRC internal status report
AD-HDTV at NBC
Jan 1993 – After its demonstration of simulcasting, ATRC moves AD-HDTV to NBC headquarters at 30 Rock to perform intergration tests with digital VCRs.
The ACATS Special Panel
Preparation for the Advisory Committee's Special Panel was intense. Each proponent was playing to win and making their best case.
ATRC assesment of AD-HDTV vs. competing digital systems | ATRC introductory remarks to the Special Panel (Reitmeier)
Feb 1993 – The ACATS Advisory Committee “Special Panel” convened to review test results and select the winning system. It concludes that the digital systems are superior to analog proposals, but it fails to select a winner among the four competing digital systems
Back to: Competing Digital Systems