July 23, 2014

Horse 1719 - 5A

Tucked away in our garage is a black and white National television set (even from before the days of National Panasonic) and curiously it has in between channels 5 and 6, the mysterious channel 5A.


For reasons that I've never been able to ascertain, in VHF channels which carried sound and vision were stepped in 7MHz increments. Bands I and II, started in the mid 40s and 50s and kept on going into the lower range which coincided with FM radio, and then jumped 36MHz to go from Channel 5 to 5A and then 37MHz to go from Channel 5A to Channel 6.
Even more bizarre is that there is are two gazetted steps of 7Mhz in Band III which run from Channels 9 to 9A and then 10.

As I look at my telly in confusion, I also realise that I probably am officially "old". Let's just say that it's likely that the number of moons that I'm likely to see are probably fewer in number than those that I've already seen.
As we move to digital, the kids of today will never have the joy of tuning into 5A to avoid the snow and confusion on Channel 2 to pick up the ABC. How many people will remember that NBN in Newcastle was not Channel 9 but Channel 3? How about the odddity that Darwin didn't have Channel 9 but Channel 8 and for a very long time didn't even have a Channel 7?
Okay, I find the fact that 5A is a confusing thing but the fact that 9A apparently was a thing but never had a button or a turn dial space on televisions, is bonkers.

The fact that I have an old television which through change of technology is now useless, is entirely unremarkable. There must be lots of people who have old things which they haven't thrown away and no doubt, there probably is some residual value to some collector out there.
However, I'd like to express a little sadness for my old black and white telly.

"She (Random) brandished the watch at him. `You don't understand that there's somewhere this belongs? Somewhere it works? Somewhere that it fits?'
- Mostly Harmless (the fifth of the Hitchhikers' trilogy), Douglas Adams (1992)

My old old black and white telly through no fault of its own, doesn't perform the purpose for which it was intended. You can switch it on all you like but because all of the analogue transmitters are now silent, it will be intently listening for a transmission and never pick anything up ever again.
The somewhere this belongs, the somewhere it works and the somewhere that if fits is a place called the past. The opening line of L.P. Hartley's 1953 book "The Go-Between" says  "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

The label for Channel 5A remains a curious relic of the past with an ever increasing lack of context. Channel 9A which I didn't even know existed until I'd looked this up, probably already has passed out of the collective consciousness. I am showing my age here but the things I remember most about Channel 5A were Astro Boy and Sesame Street. Channel 5A was the other station that you could watch if Channel 2 wasn't working for some reason.
Today with a uniform channel allocation across the country, the ABC now lives on 2 and 21 but that all seems a bit mundane compared with the idea that there was a Channel 5A.

Oh yes, don't forget... Channel 8

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