Tracking the Trail of the Humble Television

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South Africa celebrates 40 years of colour, Samsung makes it brighter with SUHDTV By Matthew Thackrah, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics South Africa


2016 saw the South African Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, congratulate the South African television industry as it entered into its 40th year of broadcasting in colour. It was in January 1976 when the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) sent out its first colour show to the nation after spending several months transmitting experimental broadcasts. Times have changed since that pixelated analogue broadcast and the television has evolved into something remarkable.
For those who watched that first colour broadcast back in 1976, the quality was amazing and the experience utterly immersive. Today, few can imagine sitting clustered around such a tiny screen – a mere 11 inch, 90 degree Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) – and being captivated by tiny people in bright colour that the technology of the time could deliver. As the television’s popularity grew, so did its functionality. The last vacuum tube set was the Philco-Ford in 1973 and 1978 was the year in which the last black and white consoles were manufactured.
At that time, the screens felt perfect and the fact that the shows were in colour was a huge deal. Then, in the 1980s, things really began to take off with accessories, consoles and Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs). Yes, this was when people were inflicted by Betamax and Video Home System (VHS) and the tedious enjoyment of unravelling a cassette stuck inside the machine.
In the United States, cable television took off in the 1980s and marked the arrival of classics such as The Cosby Show, Married with Children and Rosanne. South Africa saw the first Digital Broadcast service in 1985 with Multichoice (Mnet), Africa’s first Pay TV Service. The 1980s also saw the release of the Sinclair Pocket TV set which could possibly be the first mobile device used for enjoying television viewing. It came with Polaroid power packs and had a two inch cathode ray tube screen. After the launch of SuperSport in 1998 with Mnet, came the 1990s an era when the television and technology suddenly seemed to explode. The personal computer became more affordable, the Internet arrived and programmes such as Seinfeld, Friends and Twin Peaks settled into public consciousness and became cult classics. The firs Digital Satellite broadcast was also done in 1996 in South Africa. Additionally, the television received a makeover as plasma and Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD) entered stage left, although the weighty CRT remained dominant until the 2000s.
Towards the end of the 1990s and in the first half of the 2000 decade, televisions became so much more than just a way of watching movies and shows. There were new features built into sets such as sleep timers and parental controls. The chunky CRT was starting to be replaced by the slender LCD and Plasma screen which had far more screen real estate and went from functional tool to stylish addition.
The emergence of the home theatre mind-set and increased adoption of the TV saw the market change and mature. Owning a television was no longer a rarity and technology transformed viewing into an experience. Colour television had evolved from the limited resolution of the 1960s to the gorgeous 40 inch flat panel colour television from Samsung in 2007. It also saw televisions become connected; smart devices that could record TV and go a little bit further than the norm. In 2008 Samsung led the television market by introducing the first content-orientated television that allowed connection to internet services. Then, in 2009, digital took over from analogue and the old TV set went black And Samsung again made groundbreaking development by introducing Smart TV with internet-based widget services.
It has been seventy five years since the first television was trotted out to disbelief and laughter. Now it has evolved to become more than anyone could have expected back then. The Samsung Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) delivers pure 4K image quality – four times the pixels horizontally than that of Full HD – and abundant smart features, while being far more light-weight than the first colour sets from years ago. Now people can record television shows, use it as an alarm, control multimedia content across different rooms and spaces – taking complete control of their entertainment, all of it in rich, glorious and immersive colour.”
Samsung has been one of the leading manufacturers of televisions for many years, bringing both form and function to the living space and introducing revolutionary new concepts in design and capability. Its televisions consistently sit in top spots on leader boards – five spots in the Stuff Top 10 Best TVs for 2015, a top spot by WitsView as the best TV brand for 2014, as well as being the Global leader in television sales for 10 consecutive years, including the 10th consecutive year television leader in South Africa, according to GFK market and consumer information. In addition, Samsung’s KS9500 Series Curved SUHD TV managed to grace the title for “Best Innovation” which earned’s 2016 Editors’ Choice award, High Definition (HD) Guru’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Top Picks award and TechRadar’s Best of CES award with a focus on quality, colour and style.
Samsung is still finding ways of transforming the humble TV into something so much more. With exciting new developments that are set to transform the industry coming soon to South Africa’s shores, there has never been a better time to watch this space.

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