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Western Electric Two-way Television Experiment


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Two-way TV in 1930

Bell Telephone Laboratories conducted experiments with "Two-way Television" culminating with a demonstration on April 9, 1930.

A "phone call" was held between the 195 Broadway headquarters and the BTL facility at 463 West Street in New York City, as representatives of the press looked on.  Signals were sent over normal phone wiring, suggesting that distance was not a limiting factor.

It was noted that while interesting, commercial prospects were "uncertain." 

Behind each booth was a room full of complex electrical and mechanical equipment, including water cooled neon receiving tubes, rotating scanning disks and racks of gear.  The bandwidth required for thousands of stations was well beyond the capacity of existing exchanges.

(Photos from The Northwestern Bell, May 1930.)
1930 Two-way TV, equipment
A. W. Horton and M. W. Baldwin, BTL engineers, monitoring circuits in the equipment room.

Control for the television and telephone apparatus required three racks.

There were also three large cabinets containing the neon  tubes, scanning disks and arc light.
Water-cooled neon tube
Water-cooled neon tube used for receiving television images.

In operation, the central rectangle glows with a pinkish light.

Two-way television system diagram

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©2009 paulf.  All rights reserved.