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Digutal HDTV Grand Alliance mebers

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

                                    Digital Hierarchy Concept                            |              Digital Future Without A Hierarchy

89-12-05 Future Without the Digital Hier

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

        Aug 8, 1990 - Multi-Media - Intersection of Computing and Consumer Electronics predictions (Reitmeier, Carlson) 

        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 

        Nov 12, 1990 - Schedule Acceleration Nov 9 meeting (Reitmeier)  

        Nov 28, 1990 - Attendee Plan for 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 

                                            Executive Session | Video Compression experts | RF Transmission experts


Dec 10, 1990 -  ATRC Video Compression and RF Transmission Technical Shootouts are conducted

                  ATRC Video Compression shootout welcome and intro   |   RF Transmission shootout welcome and intro


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

!!ATRC cover.jpg
!!Glenn and carlo
!!ATRC execs

              March18, 1991 -- ADTV project org chart


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

1991 ATRC NAB booth
1991 NAB Sarnoff gang
1991 NAB Glenn setup
1991 NAB Terry setup
1991 NAB Terry arms
1991 NAB monitors
1991 NAB ACTV Ray Joel
1991 ACTV at NAB
1991 NAB ScottK Cynthia
mike with chart
1991 NAB JimC PeteB JoeD
1991 NAB JoelZ Ray
1991 NAB Jack BobP Bain Scott MikeS
1991 NAB blue banana TV
1991 NAB Cynthia2
1991 NAB CharlieD TV
1991 NAB Cynthia
1991 NAB Glenn
1991 NAB Glenn Lauren CharlieW
ACTV group photo j

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  

     Sept 1991 - Prototype Hardware Racks Configuration  |  Rack Power Requirements  |  System Integration Plan  


AD-HDTV Prototype Hardware Design

1992 AD-HDTV System Integration and Testing

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

mayflower moving j

Jan 1992 - Philips equipment arrives (al Acampora and Glenn Reitmeier)

terry supervising j
Bruce Steve

Bruce Anderson, Steve Pruss

Charlie Bill

Charlie Wine, Bill Beyers


Bhavesh Bhatt


Al Acampora

Aldo Terry
Aldo Terry Charlie

Aldo Cugnini, Terry Smith, Charlie Wine

dec debug
enc debug
glenn and terry
Glenn Carlo tshirt 1
Glenn Terry Aldo
Glenn King Terry
conf table
Jeff Joel Todd

Jeff Cooper, Joel Zdepski, Todd Christopher

Lou Dick

Lou Stetz, Dick Klensch


Liston Abbott


Jeremy Pollack

Rich Carlo
Terry Jeff

Terry Smith, Jeff Cooper

Kuria Glenn
Olu debug
Terry thru racks

Terry Smith and lots of wires


Rick Bunting

terry by whiteboard
Steve Bruce

Steve Pruss, Bruce Anderson

trans enc
trans dec
Terry with board

Terry Smith

Glenn carlo tshirt 2
Glenn whiteboard
carlo Curt Terry

Carlo Basile, Curt Carlson, Terry Smith


Joe Donahue (Thomson)


Liston Abbott

Ron Terry

Ron Kolcynski, Kuriacose Joseph, Terry Smith

Todd Charlie
SSQAM demod
houdini top
houdini bot
ad-hdtv field lab team

Rocco Brescia

computer room

AD-HDTV at the Advanced Television Test Center

computer room

Lew Stetz


Rocco Brescia

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.

1992-09-30 AD-HDTV first digital simulcast
1992-09 AD-HDTV first digital simulcast at WRC
1992-09 AD-HDTV antenna
1992-09  AD-HDTV field testing

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.  

    Oct 30, 1992 - AD-HDTV System Improvements Submission to ACATS

    Nov 17, 1992 - AD-HDTV System Improvements Presentation

    Nov 24, 1992 - AD-HDTV Prototype Hardware Improvements

     Dec 21, 1992 -  ATRC internal status report 


!!93-01 AD-HDTV at NBC1.jpg

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

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