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1952 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.


links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 3  First television episode of police series Dragnet is broadcast by NBC. Produced and directed by its star, Jack Webb (right, who also writes scripts), it becomes the highest rated crime series on US television and an early programme export. It remains famous for its opening music by Walter Schumann (four ominous chords and a march) and its laconic opening statements: 'This is the city … I'm a cop' and 'The story you are about to see it true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent'.
Because of its stylised presentation it may also be the most parodied television programme of all time, comedy versions having been released on record by Spike Jones and Stan Freberg (the latter several times).
> 1967
January  Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) television service starts on regular basis in Italy See also 1949
January  First International Film Festival of India (Filmotsav) is staged in Bombay.  
  US Decca Record Company assumes control of Universal Pictures in a complex deal involving the purchase of J Arthur Rank’s shares.  
March 14  Opening of the BBC transmitter at Kirk O'Shotts brings television to Scotland. Many early broadcasts from Scotland have to be done as outside broadcasts from theatres and drill halls, including the former Black Cat cinema, Glasgow.  
March  Japanese broadcaster NHK makes a successful experimental colour television transmission.  
April 18  The Florida Theatre opens in Mexico City with seating for 8,000 and the potential for another 3,000 standing. It is part of the Granat brothers' chain and is the largest cinema in the world, outstripping New York's Radio City Music Hall (6,000 seats). [0078a]  
April  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifts its ban on allocation of new television broadcasting freqencies.  
April  Technicians at Canada's National Film Board devise a method of recording two adjacent but separate language tracks on film, which can be selected by means of a push-button adaptor on the projector. Each track is 1/500th of an inch wide. [0078a]  
May 22  House of Lords debates the possible introduction of commercial television in UK, producing Lord Reith’s famous quotation associating it with ‘dog-racing, smallpox and bubonic plague’.  
May 25  In Burstyn v Wilson—the Miracle case—the US Supreme Court rules that it is unconstitutional to deny a licence for exhibition of a film on the grounds that it is 'sacrilegious'. Films are, contrary to the Court's 1915 opinion, ‘a significant medium for the communication of ideas’ and thus entitled to protection of freedom of speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. [0032]  
May  British Lion agrees to sell Worton Hall Studios at Isleworth to the National Coal Board for its Central Research Laboratory.  
May  BBC broadcasts experimental schools programmes to six local schools in north London, the picture being carried by microwave and sound by Post Office landlines.  
May  Publication of the seminal report on The British Film Industry by Political and Economic Planning (PEP).  
May  Government memorandum proposes a second UK television service as an alternative to the BBC.  
June 29  BBC begins to research the size of television audiences.  
June 30  BBC Charter expires and is renewed.  
June 30  British Lion vacates Worton Hall Studios, Isleworth; the National Coal Board’s Central Research Establishment moves in next day.  
July 6  First use of an optical standards converter designed by the BBC for television transmission from Paris.  
July 8  First over-the-air cross-channel television link between London and Paris.  
July  Screen Actors Guild (president: Ronald Reagan) grants MCA a seven-year waiver from its prohibition on agents acting as producers, permitting rapid growth of the company’s television production subsidiary, Revue.  
August 15  BBC Wenvoe transmitter brings television to South Wales and the West of England.  
August  Television service begins in Dominican Republic.  
August  Ray Dolby (1933- ) joins the Ampex video recording project.  
•  Canadian government confirms establishment of a television service to be run by CBC, with all stations required to be CBC affiliates and no licensing of more than one station per region until national coverage is achieved.  
September 6  Canada’s first television station, CBFT Montreal, begins transmissions in English and French.  
September 8  Second Canadian television station, CBLT Toronto opens. These two stations can reach about 30 per cent of Canadian homes—more than the proportion possessing television sets. Each transmits about 18 hours a week.  
September 20  Independent station KPTV TV begins 10 days of trial transmissions on UHF channel 27 at Portland, Oregon—the first UHF television station in the USA. The mast [right] is shipped from Bridgeport, Connecticut, where it had been used experimentally by RCA. (KPTV becomes an NBC affiliate the following year.) [Thanks to Ron Dunevant for this update. Click on the picture for a link to his KPTV website.]  
September 23  Heavyweight boxing bout between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott is screened to paying audiences on large-screen television in 49 cinemas in 31 US cities.  
September 23  US vice-presidential candidate Richard M Nixon appears on television to deny that he has been accepting gifts, other than the dog Checkers.  
September  Pierre Toulon files a US patent application for photographic disc reproduction of television signals (granted August 1965).  
September 30  The first Cinerama production, This is Cinerama, opens to the public at the Broadway Theater, New York. It grosses $32m from few cinemas. Developed by Fred Waller, an inventor living in Long Island, Cinerama has a viewing angle 146 degrees wide, 55 degrees high. Three interlocked 35mm films are shot through 27mm wide-angle lenses positioned at 48 degrees to each other at 26 fps with six-perforation pulldown. The cinema installation has three separate projection booths, five speakers behind the screen and two more for surround effects, replaying magnetic stripe sound. All the early productions are travelogues. See also 1962
October 1  Regular transmissions begin from KPTV at Portland, Oregon, the first US television station in the UHF frequency band.  
October 2  Bing Crosby Enterprises achieves the first high-resolution recorded moving pictures through means other than photography, with an improved multi-track videotape recorder. The machine uses 12 recording heads—10 for the video signal, one for synchronisation and one for audio. The tape, with tracks laid longitudinally, runs at 100 ips and has a recording time of 16 minutes from one reel of tape.  
October  Ampex achieves an almost recognisable picture with its videotape experiments using an arcuate system with three heads on a spinning drum and two-inch tape running at 30 ips. This is soon superseded by transverse scanning system with tracks running width-ways across the tape and four rotating heads (quadruplex recording).  
October  EMI Records in the UK issues its first 33rpm vinyl LPs—over four years after the format is introduced in the USA and two years after rival Decca.  
October 27  Last issue of the Manchester Guardian without news on the front page.  
October 30  In UK the Cinematograph Act explicitly extends the provisions of the Act of 1909 (qv) to moral as well as physical safety, with special restrictions on admissions of children.  
October  Douglas Fairbanks Jnr leases British National Studios at Elstree, which are renamed National Studios. Fairbanks has a contract to produce 39 half-hour films for NBC Television and commercials. This is the first time a British company has been contracted to produce for American television.  
November 15  The first UK record hit parade (a top 12) is published by the recently launched New Musical Express (NME). The first number one is Here in my Heart by Al Martino. Radio Luxembourg starts to broadcast Top of the Pops, based on the chart. > 1954
November  Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart by Vera Lynn is the first British record to top the US record charts (for nine weeks), while also being a top 10 hit in the UK.  
November  Television service begins in Venezuela. Television service start dates
December 18  In Nice, Twentieth Century-Fox president Spyros P Skouras and technical director Earl Sponable see a demonstration of Henri Chrétien's Hypergonar anamorphic lens system (the option held by the Rank Organisation having just lapsed). Skouras buys the rights and the company conducts a series of tests in Paris. Paramount had previously approached Chrétien about acquiring his patents but withdrew. Warner Bros has also been trying to acquire Chrétien's lenses, the patents on which run out this year. Fox calls its commercialised version CinemaScope. American lens manufacturer Bausch & Lomb are commissioned to make some anamorphic lenses. > 1953
December 25  The new Queen delivers her first Christmas message to the peoples of the Commonwealth. 'Each Christmas, at this time, my beloved father broadcast a message to his people in all parts of the world. Today I am doing this to you, who are now my people.' > 1957
December  Television services begin in West Germany and East Germany.  
December  BBC forms the Television Transcription Unit to 'distribute abroad films made by the BBC TV Service and telerecordings of BBC TV plays'.[0060]  
December  NHK makes its first stereophonic radio broadcast using two transmitter networks.  
•  Rank Organisation’s Gate Studios at Elstree is sold to Andrew Smith Harkness, manufacturer of cinema screens.  
•  Arnold & Richter introduce the Arriflex 16ST camera, claimed to be the first professional 16mm film camera. Widely used for television production, around 20,000 cameras are manufactured of this model and its close variants.  
•  BBC engineering team led by Peter Axon begins work on task of developing a broadcast videotape recorder.  
•  British Film Institute takes over the Telekinema on London’s South Bank.  
•  Alba Films studios are opened in Albania by the communist regime.  
•  In the UK, the Crown Film Unit is disbanded.  
•  Large screen television systems are already installed in 75 theatres across America, with a further 122 reportedly on the way. In fact, fewer than 100 in all are ever equipped and rarely used. The phenomenon is already dying out. Paramount and General Precision Laboratories cease production of intermediate film television systems for cinema use. Hollywood is turning to other ideas, such as wide-screen, 3-D and stereophonic sound.  
•  Spending on advertising time on US television totals $288m, an increase of 39 per cent over the previous year.  
•  Rapid rise in the number of small US television stations coming on the air since 1946 slows to a net increase of only one station during the year.  
•  General Tire and Rubber Company acquires General Teleradio.  
•  US Federal Communications Commission reserves 242 channels, two thirds of them in the UHF spectrum, for use by educational television stations.  
•  Intergovernmental Conference on Copyright meeting at Geneva establishes Universal Copyright Convention.  
•  International Radio Regulations Stockholm Agreement allocates frequencies for development of Very High Frequency (VHF) radio and television broadcasting in Europe.  
•  Studio H at BBC's Lime Grove studios is brought into use. The first UK television soap opera, The Grove Family, is to be produced here.  
•  First UK television audience measurement research carried out by the BBC.  
•  US advertising revenue for the year rises 58.8 per cent in a year to reach $288m.  
•  Mr Potato Head is the first toy advertised on US television.  
•  Oklahoma farmer and seed salesman Bob Magness and his wife Betsy mortgage their farm to finance a move into the cable fledgling television business. At Casper, Wyoming, Bill Daniels, an oil insurance salesman, with Richard and Gene Schneider start to build a cable system, with $250,000 backing from local oilmen. Signals are relayed by AT&T microwave links from Denver (at $7,800 a month)—the first such use of microwave relays in the US. Because of AT&T charges for providing several channels, subscribers are asked to vote for the programmes they want and the single channel is switched between channels at the head-end for eight hours a day. The service costs subscribers $7.50 a month plus a $150 installation fee. [Cable systems set up by Daniels and sold on to others formed the basis of companies that later became Cox Communications, American Television & Communications (later still bought by Time Warner), TeleCommunications Inc (TCI) and Sammons Communications.] > 1956
•  Victor introduces a three-speed record player (33 rpm, 45 rpm and 78 rpm) on the US market.  
•  Cook system of stereophonic disc recording is developed using twin grooves and a dual-stylus pick-up.  
•  Through his company Cousino Electronics, Bernard Cousino of Toledo, Ohio markets an endless loop tape cartridge called the Audiovendor. Designed for use as a point-of-sale audio message delivery system, the quarter-inch tape is coated on one side with magnetic particles, on the other with colloidal graphite, a process patented by Cousino to reduce the build-up of static electricity in the tape loop.  
•  Rupert Murdoch inherits two Australian newspapers from his father.  
•  Dennis Gabor patents his ideas for holography.  
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Page updated 22 April 2009
© David Fisher