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Digital switch happens Friday



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Friday will be a significant day in the history of television: It's the day that all TV stations in country have to turn off their old analog transmitters and broadcast a digital-only signal.

You've seen the count-down graphics each night on your TV screen; you've seen the public service announcements; and there have been countless news stories about the switch to digital TV. You can't procrastinate any longer. The switch happens Friday.

It means if you don't use a cable or satellite provider, or don't have a digital converter box on your old set, then you'll not have a picture on your screen.

TV has changed a lot since it was first introduced in the United States 81 years ago. Back then, not many people had them or could afford one. Folks would gather in front of store windows and stare at the images coming from the box.

There were only a handful of channels then, and the picture was black and white. Even so, it was a technological marvel, invented by Philo T. Farnsworth of Rigby, Idaho.

KSL found a YouTube video of Farnsworth's 1957 appearance on "I've Got a Secret," a game show where celebrities would try to guess someone's profession. They couldn't determine what Farnsworth did on this episode, and he won a cash prize and a carton of cigarettes.

But even back then, Farnsworth talked about the future of TV, which we are seeing today. "We think we can eventually get 2,000 lines instead of 525," Farnsworth said, explaining that would create a much sharper picture.

Farnsworth may not have envisioned color TV, High Definition and digital broadcast signals back then, but he certainly knew TV would change.

And so Friday, we change yet again. The old analog broadcast signal that made TV possible will step aside for a digital signal that will be clearer, sound better and provide many more viewing options. Here's hoping you're ready!

Salt Lake's TV stations will be shutting down their analog signals at various times Friday. KSL plans to go digital-only beginning at 1 p.m.

That switch also comes on a special anniversary for KSL Channel 5: It was 60-years ago that we signed on the air for the very first time.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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Keith McCord

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