Mass Media & Technology

Digital TV

Were you an early adopter? (April 2020)

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive

This changed in the Autumn of 1999 to the version with the current Sky wordmark, the satellite swoosh was removed in late 2000:

That's not the current wordmark.
JAS84 posted:
That's not the current wordmark.

Yes, I'm aware, though in spite of the modifications to make the logo appear softer, the overall principle has remained virtually unchanged for the past 21 years.
Last edited by ToasterMan on 21 April 2020 10:06am
Pete Founding member
We tried to get Sky however the installer was lazy. He tried putting the dish at the back door where there were trees blocking the signal. Despite the fact that the obvious solution was to put the dish at the apex of the roof round the corner he couldn't be bothered to get a big ladder.

So we ended up getting ITV Digital. I was annoyed as we got it during the only week that they were not giving out the Monkeys Sad

Had the Philips box, which of course was a lump, and a relatively low level subscription but it was a complete revelation compared to analogue.

Course it didn't last long and we were left in the strange limbo period between ITV Digital going bust and Freeview launching. We did not send our box back...

We then had the joy of the pre-freeview experience, The Hits barker channel of a dozen songs on repeat, various static cards etc. Then eventually freeview came along.

Next was the Goodmans GDB2 for my bedroom, an amazing little box that was lightning fast, and amazingly had a full firmware upgrade mid life that vastly improved the user experience. Plus if you charmed the right person on digital spy they'd send you the better remote control out for free. A GDB3 followed for my bedroom with the 2 moving downstairs. Eventually the ITV Digital box died at about the same time Lidl were selling STBs for a tenner, so the rest of the TVs got converted en-masse at the same time we replaced that.

I should point out that, at this time, there was only one widescreen tv in the house: a "reoc" (a Beko TV rebadged for Safeway) with the oldest TV being a rock solid philips 14" one in the kitchen from 1989 which amazingly had a scart lead.

Obv since then TV's at mum's house have been replaced with LCD models with freeview / freeview hd built in.

I meanwhile have had Virgin for the past 13 years. Started with a scientific atlanta V box, before upgrading to V+ (amazingly managed to get the vastly superior Samsung box first time). Got TiVo when it was brand new (and got to keep the V+ in a second room) although that little freebie has long since expired meaning there's a redundant and annoying cable in my bedroom.

The V6 box is lightyears ahead of the original TiVo and shows what Virgin can do when they bother to spend money on hardware. Shame they can't do the same with their routers.

Meanwhile I only recently got rid of my old TV table, which was silver, to match the TVs of that time. Since then we had the gloss black period, the matte black period and seem to be moving towards some accessories being white, as bezels from the TV's themselves become ever more invisible.
I couldn't persuade my parents to get Sky or cable throughout my youth and was stuck with analogue till I was about 11. I was mesmerised whenever I went to my grandad's house as he had Sky and I found it magical! We ended up getting a Panasonic TUCT20 box from Argos just before it was branded Freeview and, I'm not even over-stating this, but as proper TV obsessive as a kid it was honestly up to that point the most exciting day of my life!

Having grown up with only four channels and the occasional whiff of C5, the thrill of suddenly having access to ITV2, BBC Choice and the like was genuinely overwhelming! I absolutely loved watching the platform grow and seeing stuff like FTN launch, waiting to see what would happen to the CBN channel that never launched, even joining was exciting. I was posting on the DS Freeview forums all the time and I'd rush home from school if I'd spotted that a rescan was available, even if it was just for some dull radio channel. And the only way was up for Freeview, E4 launching and EPG slots suddenly going for £12 million was a real turning point and it was all fascinating to watch. Freeview ended up being a big part of my teenage years!

I've still only ever had Freeview (and now a TV that can also receive Freesat) and have never seen Sky as something I'd need, especially as I have the streaming services to top it up.
ToasterMan and VMPhil gave kudos
A former member
We got NTL Digital sometime around 1997/1998 or so, as I remember using the keyboard to send e-mails to a friend. The choice of channels was amazing for the time and I remember watching the launch of ITV2 with interest.

Also, some of my captures of Digital Teletext (with the original logo) are preserved for posterity on MB21. My captures date from September 2000 but there is another set of captures from someone else in December which showed the newer logo and a re-vamp of the pages.
I must have been quite early getting an ondigital box.
We had been doing some tests and were doing the early red button feeds of a different court from Wimbledon when I first saw one. We were using it as our off air monitoring feed,
The tests went reasonably well, until it was noticed that although the pictures were generally fine, the coding struggled to encode the net, and it tended to disappear......
We then started to do programmes for the new BBC Choice, such as 110%, and Row Z, both sports talk, and Backstage, a behind the scenes show.
To do that we built a small satellite uplink truck with an on board genny, vision mixer and racks position, sound desk and position for a producer. That little truck (R16 SAT) paid for itself many times over very quickly, and became the blueprint for many others.
It ended up getting used for bigger shows, such as Blue Peter once a week, when they couldn't run to paying for a studio, so an OB was cheaper! It also did the remote side of Springwatch - driving it to Shetland was quite a run, and it did many others in its time.
So, to see what my colleagues were up to, it was worth getting ondigital at home.
I did receive the upgrade badge to ITV Digital, but don't think I bothered applying it to the box itself......
Another memory of early digital was the World Cup from Japan - so must have been 2002.
We had been doing the England team hotel (interviews with players and the manager etc), but were also to assist at the England games.
We had been behind the scenery during transmission, and were able to view the pitch through the windows.
After the enivitable defeat to Brazil, and with the BBC 1 programme over, we all crawled out, and were chatting on set, when someone's phone rang.
"What do you mean we are still on air?" pause - "What on earth is the red button??!!"

Ah, nobody seemed to have clocked that we were actually doing an after show so we all went and hid elsewhere, while some sort of programme went out. I suspect it didn't have many viewers at all, as it would probably have been mentioned somewhere.
We got Sky Digital in 2001. Before that we'd only had the 5 analogue channels. This thread has reminded me how revolutionary it all felt back then, even by that point. With the EPG and even stuff like Sky Box Office with films starting every half an hour or so on demand for the most popular releases. Would sound ridiculous these days but was impressive back then.

My Grandparents had OnDigital and ITV Digital until it closed, as they seemed to be in one of the few places where the signal was good (living not many miles from the Waltham transmitter). I remember enjoying the Carlton Kids channel on there. The ITV stuff that didn't go onto Sky until much later made it feel like you were getting something exclusive.

I also had a few friends who got the NTL digital service around 1999/2000, but a lot were stuck with the analogue cable service with the old Jerrold boxes into the 2000s. I remember it seeming a shame that the selection of European channels (Sat.1 and RTL being the ones I remember) were never carried on the digital service, even though technically it would have been trivial to provide them from the same satellites as before.

That always seemed like something we lost with digital, the international channels like TV5, DW and TVEi that we did get for various times on Sky Digital were never the same. I the stuff available on the analogue platforms was what first sparked my interest in that kind of thing (now I have dishes dedicated to getting various continental channels)!
Pete Founding member
My Grandparents had OnDigital and ITV Digital until it closed, as they seemed to be in one of the few places where the signal was good (living not many miles from the Waltham transmitter).

Oh I forgot about that 64QAM / 16QAM or whatever it was. When Freeview changed the transmission style for the muxes it made such a difference to the stability of the broadcasts.

I've also now started to remember the various awful incarnations of digitial teletext. From the BBCi bar, to the thing down the side, to them bringing back page numbers but confusingly having them with 4 digit versions too.
Neil Jones Founding member
Pete posted:
I've also now started to remember the various awful incarnations of digitial teletext. From the BBCi bar, to the thing down the side, to them bringing back page numbers but confusingly having them with 4 digit versions too.

The problem was the BBCi thing was tooted as the digital replacement to Ceefax, just without any page numbers, but people were too used to dialling page numbers and wondering why it didn't work.
The page numbers were added respectively, where possible mirroring the page numbers on Ceefax, and four digit numbers were for the extra pages that didn't appear on Ceefax - that and the sub pages.

In fact they did everything possible to make it look, behave and feel like Ceefax, but probably didn't help they didn't know what they wanted to call it - text, BBCi or Red Button.
They really should've called it Digital Ceefax.
bilky asko
JAS84 posted:
They really should've called it Digital Ceefax.

Except Ceefax was already digital.

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