Memories of Analog TV: The 60s (Feb 11, 2009) Back in the 60s, we didn't have all those digital channels, but we had access to a 12 channel cable system. Over the air, we picked up channel 6, 8, 10, and 12. The Los Angeles VHF TV stations were very tricky to pick up, but with a lot of rabbit ear tweaking, we could get 7 and 11, but 2, 4, 5, 9, and 13 were more difficult to get if at all.

KCST (now KNSD) Channel 39 was broadcasting for a short while until a fire destroyed their building and they were off the air until 1968, the year that KEBS (now KPBS) channel 15 signed on as a public TV station.

I'm not sure of the Mission Cable lineup, but I believe that they carried KCET 28 on 12, the Los Angeles VHF channels on the actual dial positions, and channels 6, 8, and 10. KCST still had cable 3 reserved for them while they were off the air. I'm not sure what cable 3 was filled in with while KCST was off the air.

When KEBS and KCST signed on in 1968, KEBS assumed cable channel 12 in place of KCET, which was a Los Angeles public TV station. KCST was back on cable 3. Both of their schedules were from about 4pm-10pm. KCST was independent. KEBS was an affillaite of NET (National Educational Television), which would morph into the current PBS network.

Channel 12 was on from about 4 to 10pm. It was the lone Spanish language station in the Tijuana area at the time.

ABC was on channel 6 in Tijuana, so people who had FM radios in their cars and homes could listen to the audio portion of ABC's programming whereever they were. CBS has been on 8 for the longest time. Channel 10 was an NBC affilliate. In Los Angeles, in the past as well as the present, CBS was on 2, NBC was on 4, and ABC was on 7. 9 was and still is independent. Channels 5, 11, and 13 were all independents.

On Mission Cable, reception of KPBS on cable 12 had some ghosts from XEWT channel 12 leaking into the reception. Viewers closer to Tijuana had it worse. Cable channel 6 had ghosting coming from the broadcast channel 6, so XETV was ghosting its own cable signal.

If you lived in El Cajon valley where reception of 6 and 12 was far more difficult, you didn't get the ghosting.

Mission Cable did, however, repeat XETV's signal on cable channel 7 whenever KABC 7 and XETV 6 had the same programming, so it provided viewers of XETV a cleaner picture on cable 7.

Whenever KNXT (now KCBS) 2 and KFMB 8 had the same CBS programming, cable 2 was replaced with something like a BBS banner saying that this program is blacked out and you need to tune in channel 8 to view it or something like it. Same thing for cable 4 when KNBC 4 and KOGO (now KGTV) 10 had the same NBC programming.

Most TVs didn't yet have the current coaxial connection to hook up cable TV to, so they used a 75 to 300 ohn converter so they can be connected to the TV sets. The 300 ohm connectors are basically two screws that connect the wiring from an antenna (indoor or outdoor) to the TV.

The TV tuners were mechanical, with the VHF dial going from 2-13 and U for UHF. The VHF tuner made a click when you changed the channels. When you turned on "U", you could use the UHF dial, which went from 14 to 83 in the old days. The UHF tuner, unlike the VHF tuner, didn't have stops like the VHF tuner did, so you had to guess where channels 15 and 39 were approximately by spinning the UHF dial until you came over a 14 or a number close to it for channel 15. For 39, you had to spin the dial to where it was approximately, something like between 38 and 44 on the UHF dial. In the 70s, the UHF tuners were click stopped, so you could know better where all of the UHF channels were supposed to be.

For most of us, 13 channels (7 from L.A., 6 from San Diego/Tijuana) were enough. To get XEWT if you had cable, you had to temporarily disconnect the cable so you can view it on 12. You could also get a cleaner KEBS on channel 15 instead of watching it on 12 if XEWT's ghosts were interfering with KEBS's picture there. If you could get XETV in the clear over the air, you could just disconnect the cable and watch it. You could reconnect the cable to watch the Los Angeles VHF stations.

Oh what fun we had in the 60s with analog TV!


Burwell Feb. 25, 2009 @ 10:29 p.m.

In the mid 1960s most of the houses in my neighborhood in Clairemont had a 30 foot tall TV mast with an antenna that was connected to an electric motor called a rotor. The rotor was connected by wires to a control box inside the house. The control box had a knob that rotated in the center of a dial that was laid out like a compass. If you wanted to watch Channel 13 in LA, you merely turned the knob to the correct compass heading and the antenna rotated to that heading on command. Channel 13 would gradually come into focus as the antenna slowly rotated. It was the same for the other LA stations. I don't know if San Diegans use rotors anymore, but with cable TV rates hitting $100 per month or more, replacing cable with a rotor antenna might be the way to go.


davidtanny Feb. 26, 2009 @ 10:30 a.m.

I would drop cable entirely since I much never bother with the cable channels. The extended cable package is $35 a month. Too expensive for 1-2 channels I watch. I would keep limited because I can't receive KFMB and KGTV at my place. I'd like to see someone come up with a way for an upstart company to compete with Cox by offering just a package of local stations (all of the full powers, low powers, and Tijuana stations) and all of the local and TJ AM and FM stations. Cox likes to cherry-pick the local stations and I don't see everything the locals have to offer. Cable was better when all it had were the local and L.A. channels.


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