DTV Engineering Pioneer Charles W. Rhodes Dead At 88

LEAWOOD, KAN.—Well-known TV Technology author, broadcast engineer and DTV pioneer Charles W. Rhodes, 88, died March 20, following complications from a hip fracture.

Rhodes may be best known as serving as chief scientist of the Advanced Television Test Center from 1988 through 1995. There he designed the laboratory setup and ATTC RF Test Bed with one-of-a-kind equipment used to evaluate advanced television system performance.

“Charlie was one of those renaissance men. His knowledge was vast and wide. It wasn’t just about broadcasting,” said Mark Aitken, vice president of Advanced Technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group. “He was as interested in steam locomotives as he was in nuclear physics.”

Prior to joining ATTC, Rhodes worked for Philips Laboratories where he helped design and develop early HDTV systems and at Scientific Atlanta where he contributed to the B-MAC secure satellite television systems. From 1956 to 1982, Rhodes worked for Tektronix where he rose to chief engineer of the Television Engineering Division. There he was responsible for many products, including the RFA 300 8VSB measurement set.

In 1996, Rhodes was honored by the National Association of Broadcasters with the NAB TV Engineering Achievement Award.

While living in Marlboro, Md., Rhodes set up a private electronics/RF testing lab that Aitken describes as “just about equal to any other in the country.” Since 2000, he used the lab to investigate the fundamental nature of problems with the TV standard. Many of the articles Rhodes penned for TVTechnology examined his findings. Rhodes’ first TVTechnology article, which focused on the European MAC standard, appeared in 1985.

Rhodes and his wife Trudy moved to the state of Washington where he again set up his lab. There he continued his investigation of TV RF characteristics, focusing on the fundamentals of receiver design in today’s interference-limited environment. His findings have contributed to a better understanding how to build a receiver.

In a statement released this morning, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton lauded Rhodes for his contributions to broadcast engineering. “NAB is mourning the loss of one of television’s great engineers, Charlie Rhodes,” said Wharton. “Charlie had a tremendous role in leading the transition from the analog system of the 1950s to the digital television system we know today. NAB has continued to support his important work on spectrum sharing as television moves towards the Next Generation.”

To read Charlie's articles, click here.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.