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1959 Chronokey Chronomedia index
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  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
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January 4  Luna I is the first artificial satellite to leave Earth orbit.  
January 15  Tyne Tees Television logoNorth-east England area Independent Television begins; programme company is Tyne Tees Television.  
January  Educational Television Network inaugurated by NHK for Tokyo area.  
January 29  Disney's animated feature Sleeping Beauty is released in US cinemas.  
February 3  Buddy Holly crashSinger/songwriter Buddy Holly is killed in a plane crash in a snow storm near Mason City, Iowa. Also on the plane are Richie Valens and J P Richardson (The Big Bopper) who, with the pilot, are all killed. This is 'the day the music died' (Don McLean: American Pie).  
February 20  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that rival political candidates must have equal time on television news programmes.  
March 24  FCC invites applications for over-the-air pay TV experiments, limited to three-year period, only one trial to be permitted in any market which has at least four commercial television stations, including the one undertaking the trial.  
March  Television services start in Ecuador and Lebanon. Television service start dates
May 15  An intelligible voice message is bounced off the moon from Jodrell Bank in UK to the Cambridge Research Centre in Massachusetts, US.  
June 1  Juke Box JuryFirst edition of BBC Television’s Juke Box Jury, a recognition of the growing importance of pop music. On the panel voting new releases hits and misses: Alma Cogan, Pete Murray, Gary Miller and Susan Stranks. Subsequently, the replacement title music, Hit and Miss by the John Barry Seven, itself becomes a top 10 hit the following March. The programme’s highest audience (21m) is achieved in 1963 when the four Beatles form the jury.  
June 17/18  Cablefilm technique (transmission of news film sent by wire, recorded on film, perforated and telecined), developed by the BBC, is tested in a transmission from London to Montreal, Canada.  
June 26  Cablefilm is used for the first time west-to-east to show the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in Canada by Queen Elizabeth II.  
July 22  Opening of Krugovaya Kinopanorama, a specially-built cinema-in-the-round in Moscow.  
July 24  Khrushchev and Nixon at the Ampex standAt an international trade show in Moscow, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and US Vice-President Richard Nixon meet by chance near the Ampex stand. Their so-called 'kitchen debate' about the relative merits of capitalism and communism is recorded by Ampex engineer Phillip Gundy [left in picture] and shown to the two politicians.  
August 7  First photographs of the Earth from space are transmitted by the Explorer 6 satellite.  
August  KTLA-TV Hollywood transmits part of a live trial from a Los Angeles court (Judge Byron J Walters presiding), the first such transmission in the world.  
August  Grundig shows a simple monochrome video camera at the Berlin Radio Show (Funkausstellung). It costs 190 and is aimed at the amateur market. It plugs into the television receiver aerial socket.  
August  Radar signals of 10cm wavelength are transmitted from Malvern, England, reflecting off the moon to Texas. The 5msec pulses of 2MW power are sent at 250 a second from a 45ft diameter radio telescope.  
  Elizabeth Taylor is paid $500,000 plus 10 per cent of the gross for appearing in Suddenly, Last Summer (technically a ‘British’ film), which causes controversy on its release because of its themes of rape and homosexuality.  
September  WGAN-TV television transmitter mast (493m) opens at Portland, Maine, US—at the time the tallest structure in the world. < 1956
> 1960
September  Toshiba VTR1Toshiba of Japan demonstrates its prototype VTR-1 helical scan videotape recorder. Two-inch tape runs at 15 inches per second. The demonstration spurs Sony to start a research and development programme in helical scan video recording.  
September 15  Experimental Indian television service begins as an offshoot of All-India Radio on a limited and makeshift basis in Delhi. Television service start dates
> 1965
September  Television services start in Honduras and Panama. Television service start dates
October 4  Lunik III satellite, first to photograph the dark side of the moon, is launched.  
October 7  Lunik III sends the first pictures from the dark side of the moon.  
October 8  UK general election is the first to be covered extensively on television.  
October 9  JVC applies for a patent on a two-head helical scan videotape recorder.  
October 27  Anglia Television begins to provide the ITV service for the East of England from the Mendelsham transmitter—at the time the highest mast (1,000ft) in Europe.  
October 31  Ulster Television logoUlster Television begins the ITV service for Northern Ireland from the Black Mountain transmitter.  
October 31  Nigerian television started at Ibadan by West Nigerian government in collaboration with Associated Rediffusion. WN-TV has two transmitters, at Ibadan and Ikeja, broadcasting in English for about six hours a day, with main programmes at 18:30-23:00. Government has ordered 500 receivers from UK sources and plans to order 500 more; these will be placed in schools and community centres for educational programmes transmitted in the early afternoon. Click to see Schedule and ratecard
November 2  Australian Broadcasting Commission begins television transmissions in Brisbane.  
November 2  Charles Van Doren admits to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives that the quiz show Twenty One was fixed by giving him the questions and answers in advance.  
November  Television service starts in Bulgaria. Television service start dates
November  BBC buys television rights in 22 feature films from David O Selznick, who is promptly blacklisted by the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association.  
December  General Electric Company of America announces a new system of video recording called thermoplastic recording. The process uses a high-melting-point film base coated with a transparent conducting layer and a thin layer of low-melting-point thermoplastic. Video information is laid down by an electron beam and the film is then heated to deform the surface in accordance with the information. Playback is by means of diffraction optics.  
December 1  The Earth is photographed in colour from outer space for the first time.  
December  JVC completes KV-1, its first production VTR and the first two-head helical scan recorder.  
Rank Organisation's US subsidiary, Rank Film Distributors of America, is wound up because of 'difficulties existing in the industry'.  
First Indian film in Cinemascope, the Hindi production Kagaz Ke Phool (Paper Flowers), directed by Guru Dutt, is a commercial failure.  
Panavision is introduced and adopted by the majority of film studios for 'scope and wide-screen productions.  
For some first-run US screenings of the Vincent Price thriller The Tingler, some seats are shaken by vibrators.  
Aromarama, releasing smells into the auditorium during film screenings, is used for Behind the Great Wall, which features 72 different smells.  
Further cut is made in the number of American films that can be imported into Italy, including 185 a year from MPEA majors.  
First female newsreader on BBC Television: Nan Winton, who reads the regional news.  
Consolidation in the US of the Decca Record Company and Music Corporation of America gives MCA control of Universal Studios.  
US National Educational Television and Radio Center receives a multi-million dollar grant from the Ford Foundation to provide educational television stations with Ampex recorders. 3M also donates over $1m worth of videotape.  
Professor Okamura of Tokyo University of Electro-Communications patents the slant azimuth method of video recording later used extensively in all domestic video machines.  
British Film Academy merges with Guild of Television Producers and Directors to form Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA).  
Institute of Cinema Science (film school) is founded at Lodz, Poland.  
RKO Teleradio becomes RKO General.  
Sales of gramophone records for the year reach 101.257m in the UK.  
In the UK, advertisers spend 58m on buying time on ITV.[0063] < 1955
Television boom begins in Japan with the wedding of Crown Prince Akihito.  
In the wake of the Himmelweit report, BBC and ITV commission a report about television and the young from a committee, chaired by May O'Conor, chair of the Isle of Wight Education Committee. > 1960
First Australian television drama productions are the 15-minute soaps, Autumn Affair and Emergency on ATN-7 and GTV-9.  
Test transmissions of SECAM colour television are conducted in France.  
Radio service starts in African state of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso).  
Tyndwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, passes a Bill to set up a medium wave radio station, authorised to sell advertising time—the first commercial radio in the British Isles.  
First one-hour colour television western series, Bonanza, provides a hit for NBC.  
Philco 'Holiday' PredictaPhilco launches its Predicta television receiver range, featuring a distinctive oval screen, on the US consumer market but the format fails to catch on.  
British electronics company Ferranti agrees to back development at Manchester University of the Atlas project to create a computer capable of processing one million instructions a second. > 1962
Xerox 914 is the first photocopier introduced to the commercial market.  
Thomson Organisation buys Kemsley Newspapers, including The Sunday Times.  
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Page updated 19 February 2009
David Fisher