Do Not Attempt To Adjust Your Television

I know this was the old Outer Limits line, but I have a question for those older than I. Did TV stations do weird stuff to the picture during technical difficulties and say something like this? Or was it always just a “please stand by”?

Also, the test pattern. I remember a clissic TV we had with the Red,Yellow,and Blue knobs on front that we could use to adjust tint. Was the test pattern used by individual television owners to improve their pictures, or was the test pattern just for the tv stations? What was all the stuff on test patterns?

Yes; in earlier days, televisions had an array of knobs and controls to alter not only the appearance of the picture, but the stability too; if the station knoew that there was a problem that was affecting the viewing, they would quite often announce “We are experiencing technical difficulties, please do not adjust your set”.

The test pattern was for TV stations to calibrate their equipment; they were left on the air if the station wasn’t broadcasting a show. The bars tested if the camera was set correctly; if the picture in the control room didn’t match the test pattern, something was wrong. For instance, if there was a smudge on the lens, some of the bars would be blurred.

I don’t know what the Indian was for, though. :slight_smile:

These were developed in the Black and White days. Once color came along, color bars were used (you still see these from time to time). But the stations kept using the B&W test pattern (with a little color added) when broadcasting it.

They still use the “Do Not Adjust Your Set” line from time to time. In periods of very high atmospheric pressure, TV reception is degraded. Within the last few years I’ve seen a message saying something like “Adverse Atmospheric Condtions: Do Not Adjust Your Set” displayed on the screen at such times.

There was a children’s series called Do Not Adjust Your Set in the 1960s, too, featuring some of the Monty Python team.

The Indian was to test for focus and resolution. Back in the day, the test pattern was literally on a slide that was in what was called the “film chain.” Engineers would manually set focus, then check the eqiuipment resolution. The TV stations didn’t have to do “weird stuff.” The equipment did it by itself, and the stations were just trying to get it fixed.

Why an Indian and not, say, a butterfly, I don’t know. But I do know the classic bullseye test pattern was specifically designed. It didn’t just evolve.

BTW, my screen saver is a test pattern and my wallpaper is the NBC peacock.

The classic BBC test card was this one - It has been rumoured that the girl in the picture was really left-handed and that the photo was flipped to make her appear ‘normal’, but apparently this isn’t quite true.