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Defining Vision: How Broadcasters Lured the Government Into Inciting a Revolution in Television, Updated and Expanded (Harvest Book) [Paperback]

Joel Brinkley , Brinkley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 18.07 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Rev Enl Su edition (July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005975
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,617,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Synopsis

Examines the competition by different companies, institutions, and Japan to develop a new high definition television, introducing all the key players. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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John Abel hadn't quite known what to expect, but certainly not this. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The story of the evolution of high-definition television surrounds us. Yet even now, at the dawn of its actual debut, few people really know much about it. Joel Brinkley's book is a teriffic way to learn about this undeniably fascinating story of the evolution of HDTV. He weaves tension, humor and science into an interesting tale of international and domestic political intrigue, all the while never losing sight of his mission. His ability to explain the political side of the scientific challenge, and how it comes together, is clever, no doubt about it. Mr.Brinkley's account offers readers a grand illustration of American know-how, creativity, politics and invention. I do plan to read it again.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Informative and fun. As an Internet consultant I'm intrigued by the possibilities of this digital age. The inevitable merging of telephony, internet, and televison require an understanding of each. Joel's book was a thoroughly enjoyable history of digital and HD TV. Sometimes reading like a soap-opera, this book brings the reader inside the decision making process of the TV industry and the FCC. It took me a day, maybe two, to read and I immediately started thinking about reading it again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly researched and elegantly written. 27 Aug 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
One minor shortcoming of this book is that it fails to investigate the leading role Japanese electronics companies will undoubtedly play in manufacturing television sets to the new American high-definition standard. But generally the book is painstakingly researched and elegantly written. A must for anyone who wants to get up to speed with the next great new consumer electronic product.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roller-coaster ride through digital TV history 14 Jan 2004
By Ralph D. Berenger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the early 1980s US broadcasters faced two major headaches spawned by greed and jingoism. Their comfortable, tidy, oligopolistic-and profitable-broadcast world was about to be shaken by the digital revolution, where foes and friends were often indistinguishable. New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Joel Brinkley takes the reader on a roller coaster through boardrooms, bureaucracy, technocracy, and hubris (individual and national) in "Defining Vision." It is a ride worth taking for broadcast students, educators, historians, and international political economists.
Represented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), radio and television companies considered the broadcast band spectrum their personal property. This largesse suddenly came under assault from the land mobile industry that wanted more spectrum space for a variety of public interest broadcast services such as police, firefighters, ambulance, quick response units, and other emergency services. Broadcasters, too, saw a new threat from across the sea. The Japanese spent $300 million and hundreds of thousands of engineering man-hours developing high definition television (HDTV). NHK unveiled its Muse system in 1986 to US policymakers and consumers. The picture quality was superior to the current analog systems in the United Sates, and Japanese-made monitors were designed to fit the wider formatted movies without the annoying letterbox effect.
Brinkley chronicles the scrimmages involving development of HDTV in the US like a general writing his wartime memoirs-if that general had access to the thinking of his opposition, that is. First the grand alliance-RCA, Zenith, AT&T, Phillips, General Instruments and MIT-had to admit that a victory by any one of them in the costly race to develop HDTV would be a defeat for the others. They were able to convince a willing FCC Advisory Committee that cooperation was possible in building a single system. Committee chairman Richard Wiley's role in HDTV cannot be understated (and Brinkley doesn't). His single-minded pursuit of high definition television as the national (and, it turned out, international) standard most probably resulted in its acceptance.
US broadcasters had worried privately and publicly as well, that the future of television would be dictated by a consortium of Japanese electronics magnates and NHK, the world's second-largest broadcasting company. Across the Atlantic, the European Union was equally concerned, and promised up to a billion dollars to Europeans to come up for a system on its own or else adopt the Japanese HDTV, since the Americans seemed not to be players in the game as the century's ninth decade unfolded. But the European effort never got off paper. US broadcasters at first fretted about a new "yellow peril" that posed as great a threat to them as it did to the automobile industry a decade earlier. Ever opportunistic, however, broadcasters found the Japanese an unlikely ally in their fight to snatch the unused frequencies from land mobile companies. HDTV, as the Muse system showed, required additional bandwidth space. Obviously, they reasoned, Congress and the FCC could not allocate precious broadcast spectrum space to land mobile users when they, the "rightful frequency heirs," needed the frequencies for HDTV.
At the same time, MIT's Nicholas Negroponte, who Brinkley treats somewhat derisively, was telling anyone who would listen that "HDTV had to be digital," not analog, which would allow for signal compression that would fit into existing frequencies. One naysayer echoed a common broadcast engineering complaint at the time: "we will have digital HDTV when we have anti-gravitation machines." Broadcast engineers at the major manufacturers nodded in agreement: digital high definition television technologically could not be done. The NAB, in its attempt to protect its space band largesse, inadvertently kicked off a race to develop HDTV in the United States that took on the trappings of a crusade to "rescue" the future of television in the United States from the hands of foreign interests. Along the way, General Instruments research engineer Woo Paik invented digital television (because, as a non-broadcast engineer, he didn't know that "it was impossible").
HDTV uses a compressed digital broadcast signal that not only remained within a single frequency but allowed broadcasters additional capacity to sell secondary services such as pager services, email, Internet connections, digital music, and pay-per-view movies. With such an entrée to new revenue flows, the reader would be surprised to learn the depth of NAB's animus to HDTV. Simply put, broadcasters used the HDTV concept to wrest away additional public airwaves spectra and then, among themselves, grumbled that they were unwilling to invest in new high definition cameras, monitors, and other equipment that would allow them to broadcast signals in both progressive scan (favored by the computer programming and manufacturing sector) and interlaced (favored by broadcasters) modes. Another opponent of a high definition television standard was the fledgling computer manufacturing industry in the mid-1990s, which didn't want the additional expense of adding interlacing decoding to what essentially was a dedicated proscan system.
After seven years of ups and downs in a process that often threatened to sputter, splinter, and spin totally out of control, HDTV in a digital form arrived in the US shortly after Thanksgiving in 1997. Despite all predictions to the contrary, the HDTV "turkey" arrived fully stuffed with enough goodies to ease its transition into the marketplace. The result was acceptance of the Americanized international standard by the European Union and the final, if not sad, acknowledgment by NHK that its analog Muse system was outmoded before it even got much beyond a toehold in its native land.
In "Defining Vision," Brinkley has crafted a highly readable, almost techno-mystery story with well-defined characters: heroes, villains, and rascals alike. At times he seems to get into the heads of the key players, which he explains as a literary device borne from extensive interviews with the principals who told him what they were thinking at the time. The effect rounds the edges of what could have been a highly technical, heuristic, and sloggish recitation of engineering reports, public hearings, and dreary diary entries from the participants. To his credit, the author explains his process to readers in an epilogue, thus enhancing the book's credibility. Furthermore, in this paperback edition, the author has updated and expanded several sections over the hardcover version, including an appendix and FAQ that are instructional.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job at tying together all the pieces and viewpoints. 31 Mar 1999
By waltlind@traveller.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Having had the opportunity to check the authenticity with several of the principles in the book, my hat's off to Joel Brinkley. He ties all the factions together that brought us DTV. It is a story with more twists and turns than you expect that comes mixing an industry that hates to change with new technology. Add in the governments of the U.S. and Japan, and it really becomes fun. Mr. Brinkley did a masterful job telling the story. This is a must read for anyone interested in television.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Wait for the Sequel 15 Oct 2000
By Steve Eitman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm reading this book a second time (a year later) because it's such a great introduction to players in the HDTV world. Brinkley chose a suspense style, and it really works well. I am excited about HDTV and turned each page holding my breath - hoping for a successful conclusion. Now I'm looking for more works that go beyond 1998, and can't find any more fulfilling...and the story isn't over yet!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspensful, humorous ... a great non-fiction read! 3 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The story of the evolution of high-definition television surrounds us. Yet even now, at the dawn of its actual debut, few people really know much about it. Joel Brinkley's book is a teriffic way to learn about this undeniably fascinating story of the evolution of HDTV. He weaves tension, humor and science into an interesting tale of international and domestic political intrigue, all the while never losing sight of his mission. His ability to explain the political side of the scientific challenge, and how it comes together, is clever, no doubt about it. Mr.Brinkley's account offers readers a grand illustration of American know-how, creativity, politics and invention. I do plan to read it again.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read if you want to understand the origins of HDTV 8 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I work in the television broadcast industry and this is a must read if you want to learn about the origins of HDTV, the players who made HDTV a reality, and how the standards for HDTV were defined. The author is an authority on the subject and provides an excellent description of the systems, history, etc. that both technical and business professionals can understand. At my company this has become required reading. I highly recommend this book.
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