When TV Technology
new technology editor
nine years ago this
month, we wanted not
only someone who
could bring the technical
background to the
job, but who shared
our love for this industry
and respect for the people who work
behind the scenes to make broadcasting
such an important part of our communities.
Who we got had those qualities and
so much more.
For many of us in broadcasting
and related media,
our jobs revolve around a
9–5 daily schedule, but for
a dedicated few, it’s a 24
hours-a-day passion. James
O’Neal, technology editor
for TV Technology since
2005, is one of the dedicated
few. It’s safe to say
that, apart from his family,
James’ main interest is in
technology in general and
the history and legacy of
broadcasting in particular.
James’ love for this industry is infectious
and he never hesitates to share that
passion with the rest of us, whether it’s
debating when the first radio broadcast
actually occurred (including debunking
many of the myths surrounding the
involvement of one Reginald Fessenden,
who, in many circles, is still credited with
the first voice and music broadcasts in
history), or discussing the differences between
HD and Ultra HD or how well the
DTV transition was handled.
James’ articles on broadcast history
in these pages often garnered the most
reader response—and debates—in this
magazine’s 35-year history. These included
his account of the introduction of the
first videotape recorder at the 1956 NAB
Show, to a profile of Stanley Lebar, who
developed the camera that documented
the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the introduction
of color television 60 years
|James gives a tour of his radio control room.
But his interests don’t just lie in the
legacy of broadcasting, either. James is
active in most of the broadcast organizations,
including SMPTE, SBE and IEEE-BTS,
of which he is currently the newsletter
editor. He has also built a fully operational
radio station in the basement of his country
home in central Virginia. In fact, James
was profiled about his project several
years ago, and you can catch the program
After nine years as technology editor,
James is stepping down from the post,
but in some ways, it’s a mere formality.
James will continue to write and contribute
to TV Technology on a regular basis.
After nearly 50 years in this business, he
says it’s hard to completely step away.
That suits us just fine because James
is not only an integral member of the
TV Technology team, he’s also a valued
friend to us all.
I asked James to come up with a list
of what he deems to be the five most important
milestones in broadcast history.
Here’s his list:
• Dec. 21, 1906 - Reginald Fessenden
conducts first public demonstration
of wireless speech and music transmission
and provides attendees with
a “handout” addressing broadcasting’s
• Nov. 2, 1920 – KDKA broadcasts presidential
election returns, stirring widespread
public interest and setting the
stage for radio’s entry into the home.
• Nov. 2, 1936 – BBC inaugurates world’s
first regular TV broadcasting schedule.
• July 12, 1962 – First use of satellite technology
(Telstar) to relay a transatlantic
• June 12, 2009 – The era of analog television
ends in the United States, with all
high-power stations required to transmit
Like so many lists of today, this is bound
to lead to some debate. Do you agree or
disagree with James’ assessment? Let us
We’ve also compiled a list of James’ most
popular article on the history of broadcasting.
You can access them at www.tvtechnology.com/jamesoneal.
Thank you, James for a job well done
and best of luck in your (semi-) retirement!