Individual media Reference department
Quotations department Media department Reference department
< previous | next >
1940 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.


links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 3  Radio International ends its transmissions and the International Broadcasting Company (IBC) ceases activity.  
January 5  First demonstration of FM radio transmission, developed by E H Armstrong, is given to the Federal Communications Commission.  
January 7  BBC Forces Programme begins.  
January  In US, Federal Communications Commission begins hearings on proposals for a television service. A National Television System Committee (NTSC) is set up to consider alternative proposals. > February
February 1  Frank Sinatra's first recording session as vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey Band in Chicago. > July 20
February 6  RCA demonstrates an electronic colour television system to the US Federal Communications Commission but the results are poor and a public demonstration is cancelled.  
February 7  BBC begins European Service broadcasting in Bulgarian.  
February 7  Premiere of Walt Disney's second animated feature film, Pinocchio, is given at the Center Theatre in Manhattan, New York. It goes on release two days later.  
February 12  BBC begins European Service broadcasting in Swedish.  
February 25  W2XBS-TV in New York broadcasts the first television coverage of an ice hockey game (New York Rangers v Montrιal Canadiens), from Madison Square Garden.  
February 28  W2XBS-TV broadcasts the first television coverage of a basketball game (between Pittsburg and Fordham universities, followed by NYU v Georgetown), from Madison Square Garden.  
February  Following hearings, the Federal Communications Commission's National Television System Committee (NTSC) declines to specify a television line standard. Saying that 'nothing should be done which will encourage a large public investment in receivers which ... may become obsolete in a relatively short time', it tells manufacturers to make sets that can be adapted to whichever line standard is eventually adopted. RCA had been planning a sales campaign for cut-price receivers to kick-start the market. Experimental television broadcasters will be allowed to seek programme sponsors from 1 September.  
March 2  W2XBS-TV broadcasts the first television coverage of an athletics track event, from Madison Square Garden.  
March 10  W2XBS-TV broadcasts extracts from I Pagliacci, performed by the Metropolitan Opera Company, the first US television presentation of opera.  
March 18  BBC begins European Service broadcasts in Finnish.  
•  UK cinema chief projectionists over the age of 18 are deemed to be in a reserved occupation and thus exempt from military conscription, as are senior film technicians over the age of 30, but not actors or junior technicians. Women start to offered special training as assistant projectionists to meet the employment shortage.  
April 9 06:00  Nazi mobile radio transmitter in a truck parked close to the royal palace in Copenhagen comes on air on the frequency of Radio Copenhagen, broadcasting news of the surrender of the Danish king, whose palace has been occupied and sealed off by invading troops since 04:00. Occupation of the country by German forces is rapidly completed. [0054]  
April 9  BBC begins European Service broadcasts in Danish and Norwegian.  
April 11  BBC begins European Service broadcasts in Dutch.  
April 16  Baseball is televised in the US for the first time by WGN-TV: an exhibition game between the White Sox and the Cubs.  
April 20  Radio Corporation of America (RCA) demonstrates the first electron microscope at its Camden NJ headquarters.  
April 21  First edition of Take It or Leave It quiz on the CBS radio network. Its highest prize of $64 gives rise to the catch phrase ‘the sixty-four [thousand] dollar question’. The series runs to 1948 but the phrase gains currency when the idea is later adopted in televised quiz shows on both sides of the Atlantic (eg, Double Your Money in UK).  
April 22  Radio station KSAN in San Francisco broadcasts the first programme for the Chinese community, entirely in that language.  
April 25  W2XBS-TV televises a circus from Madison Square Garden.  
April  Bell Laboratories demonstrate—in Carnegie Hall, New York—sound-on-film multi-channel recording: three tracks on 35mm film, with the fourth track expanding dynamic range by automatic gain control. A similar technique is subsequently used for Disney’s Fantasia, using 60 loudspeakers. > 1941
•  Four Wives and Santa Fe Trail, produced by Warner Bros, are the first commercial US film releases with stereophonic soundtracks.  
April  John Grierson visits Australia to advise on the foundation of a body similar to the National Film Board of Canada. His report is ignored until 1945. > 1945
May 11  BBC begins Overseas Service transmissions in Hindi.  
May 19  Winston Churchill makes his first radio broadcast as prime minister.  
May 19  CBS Radio broadcasts the first educational programme in the 15-year run of Invitation to Learning.  
May  Reuters received a payment of £64,000 from the UK government for 'propaganda services' to date. [0054]  
June 5  J B Priestley makes the first of his Postscript broadcasts on BBC radio. Listen Extract from typical talk [Source: BBC]
June 17  First public demonstrations in New York of Phonovision, a coin-operated 'video jukebox' developed by Sam Sax, former head of Warner in the UK and of the Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn, and Hollywood agent Frank Orsatti. The 16mm films are apparently screened by back projection within the cabinet. Initially using copies of old Vitaphone short films, the Phonovision Corporation intends to shoot new short-form musical material at the former Edison studio in the Bronx. The company claims to have received orders for 40,000 machines. [0055]  
June  UK's Newsreel Association agrees to include very short 'food flashes', produced by the Mindistry of Food. [0074]  
June 24  Television cameras are admitted for the first time to the Republican Party political convention in Philadelphia.  
June  German Post Office's local videophone service in Hamburg is being used for about 20 calls a day. However, plans to develop the network have had to be abandoned since the outbreak of war.  
June, end  As a war measure, Australia's Department of Information takes direct control over the 19:00 evening news programme. Following adverse public reaction, the ABC resumes responsibility in September.  
July 4  Dutch citizens are forbidden by the German occupation to listen to BBC and other foreign broadcasts.  
July 20  First US top 10 chart of ‘Best Selling Retail Records’ is published in Billboard magazine. First number 1 is by Tommy Dorsey.  
July 27  First appearance of Bugs Bunny in Tex Avery’s cartoon for Warner Bros, A Wild Hare, including his catchphrase, ‘What’s up, doc?’ He appears in over 160 cartoons in the next 24 years. > 1964
  First Tom and Jerry cartoon is produced for MGM by William Hanna and Joe Barbera.  
July 28  Radio Oranje begins transmissions from London to the people of the German-occupied low countries.  
July  UK's Ministry of Information puts into practice a scheme to make five-minute films to support the war effort, which members of the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association agree to show free of charge. John Betjeman is a script reader. [0074] > December
August 6  Columbia Records reduces the price of all 12-inch classical discs to $1.00.  
August 10  BBC begins broadcasting in Maltese.  
August 17  Germany bans screening of all American films in territories under its control. A similar ban is soon imposed by Italy. [0059]  
August 21  RCA Victor follows Columbia’s price reduction for classical 12-inch discs.  
August 24  German television pioneer Paul Nipkow dies two days after his 80th birthday. His state funeral ceremony is televised from the forecourt of the University of Berlin.  
August 28  CBS gives a public demonstration of a field sequential colour television system, devised by Dr Peter Goldmark, using Kodachrome films and slides. The scanning rate is 20 frames per second (fps) for each of the three primary colours (red, green and blue—RGB) in turn, making a total rate of 60 fps, twice the rate of the 441-line 30 fps monochrome system currently in use. Each frame comprises two interlaced fields. The scanning rate will be increased to 24 fps per colour, making the system incompatible with the existing system.  
August  Australian federal government establishes the Department of Information Film Division to cover Australia’s involvement in the Second World War. Its first war cameraman, Damien Parker, had been sent to Palestine earlier in the year.  
August  In the US, the White House tells the Justice Department's to settle its anti-trust case against eight Hollywood majors, to encourage their support for the president's foreign and defence policy. [0059] > November
September 1  Experimental television broadcasters in the US are allowed to seek programme sponsors.  
September 2  BBC begins Overseas Service broadcasts in Burmese.  
September 3  French television broadcasting facilities in Paris are taken over by the German Occupation.  
September 4  CBS begins broadcasting from its television station W2XAB in New York.  
September 16  BBC begins broadcasting to Cyprus in Greek.  
September 28  BBC begins broadcasting to Belgium in Flemish and French.  
September 29  Mutual Radio network launches the quiz show Double or Nothing. With a top prize of $80, it runs until 1952.  
October 15  Seven people are killed when a 500lb German bomb hits Broadcasting House during the BBC's 9pm news, read by Bruce Belfrage. It is BBC policy not to comment on-air on such interruptions. The picture [right] shows Broadcasting House next day [Source: BBC]. Live recording of the broadcast [Source: BBC]
> December
November 5  American election returns are shown on television for the first time.  
November  Forces Programme radio service is introduced by the BBC.  
November 13  BBC begins broadcasting in Albanian.  
November 13  Disney’s Fantasia animated feature, with stereophonic music recorded by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, is premiered in the US.  
November 30  BBC begins broadcasting in Luxembourgish.  
November  A consent decree settles the US Justice Department's anti-trust case against the eight Hollywood majors, who agree to a modest limit on the number of films in the packages offered to exhibitors. [0059]  
November  Scophony moves from London to Wells, Somerset.  
December 1  BBC begins transmissions in Icelandic.  
December 8  A landmine badly damages the BBC headquarters at Broadcasting House. < October 15
December 28  BBC begins transmissions in Persian.  
December 31  American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) imposes a ban on use of any of its licensed music by US radio stations. The ban, which is not matched by ASCAP's rival Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), lasts for 10 months.  
December  German occupying administration in Denmark bans the screening of British films.  
December  Michael Balcon dissociates Ealing Studios from the Ministry of Defence's policy of giving five-minute propaganda films free to cinemas. [0074] < July
December  An average George Formby comedy achieves over 2,300 bookings on general release with no more than 75 prints. [0075]  
•  John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (produced by Walter Wanger for Samuel Goldwyn) utilises some of the visual effects made more famous in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane—extreme deep focus, wide angle lenses, upward camera angles towards ceilings and strong side-light. The cinematographer is Gregg Toland (1904-1948).  
•  Blue-screen film photography—shooting a foreground scene against an evenly illuminated blue screen to create a matte that will allow the foreground to be inserted into a separately filmed background—is used by Lawrence Butler and Tommy Howard for the Alexander Korda production The Thief of Bagdad.  
•  Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) is formed in the US.  
•  Hollywood Foreign Press Association is established.  
•  General Electric Company (GEC) in UK demonstrates high quality 405-line mechanical elevision receivers.  
•  A cinema short film, Ted Husing's Television Revue, anticipates cinema-television as a news medium. 'No longer will you have to stay at home from the movies just to hear what's going on in the world. Come to the movies to see and hear.'  
•  By the year end J L Baird, working on his own and financed from savings, has developed a high definition colour television receiver that can project an image 2.5ft x 2ft onto a screen.  
•  RCA demonstrates 441-line large-screen television producing a 15ft x 20ft image, using reflective optics at the New Yorker Theatre. A Madison Square Garden fight and Brooklyn Dodgers baseball game are shown.  
•  US Federal Communications Commission decides that television shall have FM sound.  
•  Hollywood is investigated by US Congress's House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).  
•  London Calling Europe radio programmes started by BBC.  
•  Radio service begins in Iran.  
•  First US television programme to be networked—using automatic radio relay link—is shown on WNBT New York and WRGB Schenactady, where FCC members are watching.  
•  Of 507 films registered in UK, 108 (21 per cent) are British.  
•  By year end, 60 low-power stations had been built in UK to improve Home Service reception.  
•  In Canada, CBC begins regular schools radio broadcasts in Nova Scotia.  
•  In US 30m homes have radio receivers.  
•  Cavity magnetron is invented in England at Birmingham University.  
•  AT&T lays its first trans-continental coaxial cable link across the USA.  
•  At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Claude Shannon's  master's thesis on A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits propounds the idea that electrical circuits could carry out binary arithmetic functions using Boolean algebra. Shannon is offered a job at Bell Laboratories on the strength of this insight. > 1948
< previous | next >

Page updated 17 February 2009
© David Fisher