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Email the Author: Philip J Cianci

© 2011 Philip J. Cianci

High Definition Television

The Creation, Development and Implementation of HDTV Technology

by Philip J. Cianci


I still recall vividly the call from Phil Cianci in 2002. Like so many inquiries to our unit at the Smithsonian, it came out of the blue, but on a scale of zero to ten it didn't take long to realize that this was a ten. For some time my associate, Elliot Sivowitch, and I had been monitoring the checkered march of the electronics industry towards high-definition, and then digital high-definition, television. As museum people we were actively seeking to preserve some of the key prototype equipment. But racks of electronic parts don't have much meaning if you don't know what they are or how they came to be, and this information was in short supply.

Phil was offering to fill the gap, and then some.

Subsequent discussions - by telephone, email, and (in that old-fashioned way) in person - led me to believe that he was an ideal person to do so. He had had a ground-level view of the critical steps taken by the Grand Alliance, he knew the technology and the efforts that had to be taken at each step along the way to make it work, and although he was not afraid to make judgments about personalities, he was unbiased (as far as I could tell) in judging how things got done. The documents he subsequently sent us consisted of a rich mixture of newspaper clippings, promotional brochures, photographs, sketches, professional papers, test results, and so much more. With each shipment (they were roughly chronological) came a commentary about the events being covered; these, aside being richly entertaining, revealed that he had been intensely excited about being part of the project and that he could call upon a wry sense of humor in recalling what had occurred. The final package, number 21, arrived in 2006, and I was truly sorry not to be able to anticipate another anecdotal account, together with supporting evidence, of the adventures of HDTV.

But I needn't have been concerned. Now we have the long version, and I can't wait to read it. Also, as it turns out, I can expect more packages. Phil has promised to deposit his research papers at the museum, an extraordinarily thoughtful gift that will be food for historians for generations to come.

Bernard S. Finn, Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution

Email the Author: Philip J Cianci

View Mr. Cianci's Techno-Art

The author, Philip J Cianci, while with Philips Research, participated in the development of Advanced Television Systems, culminating in the Grand Alliance HDTV prototype. Mr. Cianci was with ESPN during the construction and commissioning of the Digital Center and the debut of SportsCenter in HD. He was the Editor of the Transition to Digital, a Broadcast Engineering Magazine e-Newsletter from 2005 through 2007 and is the author of two Focal Press Books. He currently serves on the SMPTE Journal Board of Editors.

McFarland is a leading independent publisher of academic and nonfiction books. McFarland is especially known for covering topics of popular appeal in a serious and scholarly fashion, and for going to great lengths to manufacture their books to the highest standards and library specifications.

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