Battle for Color TV I

Lead: If Peter Goldmark had had his way, television would have never been broadcast in black and white.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By the late 1920s most of the technical problems of TV broadcasting were solved. A way had been found to convert light into electricity. The transmission of this electrical signal would be done just like radio, but the major obstacle proved to be the way in which the signal would picked up or scanned. Television is in many ways similar to a motion picture. Characters in a movie don’t move. Motion picture film is simply a series of still photographs put end to end and run so fast across the screen that the mind of the viewer gets the impression of movement. Television operates in basically the same way. Hundreds of frozen images per second are picked up or scanned by the camera, converted to electricity, and then sent on to the TV set which sits the next room or fifty miles away and reconverts the signal.


Lead: Evoking visions of the charming Dutch countryside, the tilting object of slightly confused Spanish knights, and fights between green power and wealthy islanders, one of things that modernized rural America was the windmill.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In 1854, Daniel Halladay, a New England inventor, submitted a patent application for a self-regulating windmill, an ingenious device that automatically closed its blades during high winds so as to protect itself from damage. According to essayist Stuart Leuthner, this inaugurated the era of the American windmill.

Spy Satellites

Lead: It was mid-August 1960. In a White House ceremony, President Dwight D. Eisenhower displayed a United States flag that been recovered from an environmental satellite orbiting the earth. He wasn’t exactly telling the whole truth.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Actually, the flag had been carried into orbit aboard Discoverer XIII and was returned to earth in an ejected capsule which was then recovered from its splash down point northwest of Hawaii by a Navy taskforce. It was the first time an object had been catapulted into earth orbit and brought back without mishap, but this exercise was far more than patriotic chauvinism. The Discoverer program was a ruse, a clever cover-up for a secret reconnaissance operation known as Corona.

Electric Chair

Lead: Caught up in the frenzy of competition in the early days of electric power, Thomas Edison gave impetus to development of the twentieth century’s most fearsome form of judicial execution, the electric chair.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1880s, inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist George Westinghouse were locked in a fierce competition over the future of electric power. The issue was transmission. Edison championed direct current, Westinghouse, in alliance with the brilliant and erratic Nikola Tesla, was an advocate of alternating current. Westinghouse eventually prevailed because AC, with its more efficient distribution over longer distances, was clearly the superior choice.

The Spruce Goose II

Lead: With Allied shipping in serious jeopardy due to German submarine attacks during the early years of World War II, military planners turned to aircraft manufacturers. Howard Hughes responded with the Spruce Goose.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Metal for the construction of experimental aircraft was scarce in 1942. Therefore, when the designers at Hughes Aircraft began their mock-up of the gigantic new cargo plane, they built their model using Duramold, lightweight plywood saturated with synthetic glue to make it waterproof and very strong. The basic airframe had no nails, screws or rivets, no metal at all. Skilled woodworkers crafted special joints that were bonded with glue for strength.

The Spruce Goose I

Lead: Of all the problems the Allies faced in the summer of 1942, none was more threatening than unrestrained submarine warfare. German U-boats were sinking transport ships faster than they could be built.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Fresh challenges seemed to inspire Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.. At the age of 17 he took control of the Hughes Tool Company upon the death of his father. This provided the financial base for Howard's other interests. In 1926 he migrated to Hollywood where over the years he produced numerous motion pictures and premiered actors such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell. Hughes eventually owned and later sold RKO Pictures.

Alan Turing III

Lead: After describing the modern programmable computer and helping break the German Enigma codes, British mathematician Alan Turing turned his attention to artificial intelligence.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the wartime emergency, Turing joined Britain’s National Physical Laboratory. There he helped finalize plans for an Automatic Computing Machine (ACE), which followed his 1937 theory advocating a device that could do many tasks depending on the information fed into it. Unfortunately, the National Lab was bogged down in bureaucratic inertia and, discouraged by the slow pace, Turing, in 1948, accepted a position at the University of Manchester.

Alan Turing II

Lead: A brilliant, well-respected, but at times controversial academic mathematician, Alan Turing helped crack the German Enigma codes in World War II.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After study at King’s College, Cambridge and a Princeton Ph.D., Turning had laid the theoretical foundation for the modern programmable computer. In a dazzling insight, almost a casual aside, in a footnote, he described in theory that one might construct an automatic machine that given the correct input or instructions, could do just about anything requiring computation. The device, later dubbed the Turing Machine, would read a series of ones and zeroes recorded on tape. These numbers would tell the machine what to do to solve a problem or perform a task. In the rather rigid world of computer theory at the time this was revolutionary. Up to that point most computers were dedicated, they were designed for a particular, usually narrow purpose. Turing was suggesting another approach. Later his idea would come to fruit as engineers would create a universal piece of computer hardware that could be told to do many different tasks by its software.