The Digital Television Revolution and the Entrepreneurs and Media Titans Who Made it Happen


In his insightful new book marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the invention of digital television, Marc Tayer delivers a powerful first-hand account of how it all went down in Televisionaries: Inside the Chaos and Innovation of the DigitalRevolution (MediaTech Publishing, March 2015, $19.95 paperback/$9.95 e-book).

During the 1980s, conventional wisdom held that “Japan Inc.” would become the leading global economic power, with its new HDTV technology dominating the next-generation of consumer electronics. In response, thirteen European countries funded a billion-dollar advanced TV activity, designed to keep the Japanese at bay. But both solutions had a fatal flaw — they were based on analog technology.

With the world’s eyes diverted overseas, General Instrument, a Fortune 500 company, harbored a secret research project in its San Diego labs. The notion of transforming television from its analog roots to the zeros and ones of computers was deemed impossible at the time. Undaunted, GI boldly developed the world’s first digital television system, overcoming skeptics and upsetting the status quo on three continents. Digital TV soon became a reality for consumers throughout the world, and the media business was forever changed.

A quarter-century into the digital television era, the established media companies are navigating through an unprecedented state of flux. While they embrace the Internet, they confront a new breed — personified by Netflix, Amazon, and Google — aspiring to shape the future of video.

Televisionaries is a must-read for anyone interested in the history, technology, and rapid growth of the digital age.

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