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Television - Expo Brussels 1935

Television at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1935
© L'Epi

An inscription on the pediment of this pavilion brought together the inauguration of the first railway - in 1835 - and the first public experiments in television, in 1935. Cinema (at the Alberteum), radio broadcasting (at the I.N.R. Pavilion), television, a synthesis of these two marvels of modern times, were thus equally represented at the Brussels Exhibition.

The experiments took place in Brussels, before Paris, with the help of equipment from the Société des Compteurs de Montrouge, patented by Barthélémy, similar to that adopted by the French Minister of Posts and Telecommunications for the equipment of the State posts.

Inside the Pavilion, the visitor was in front of a small screen on which appeared the artist - singer or musician - who was in the neighbouring studio: the image was reduced and tinted green. The artist had to apply a special, unflattering make-up to his face, but the image was faithful and perfectly recognisable. The sound, on the other hand, was not altered in any way during the transmission; a short-wave set had been installed for this purpose inside the Pavilion by technicians from Radio-Schaerbeek.

The principle was as follows: the scene took place in a glass cage, under the light of eight powerful sunlights. In a camera, behind a lens similar to that of the camera, an aluminium disc perforated with spiral holes turned at 1,500 revolutions. It filtered the light and each ray struck a photocell, which in turn sent rays to the transmitter, which sent them back as waves.

A receiver station received these waves and transmitted them (at a rate of 60 lines, 25 images, 90,000 "pulses" per second) to a special screen, formed by a glass balloon covered at the top with a fluorescent substance. The contact of the electrons with this substance allowed the image to be reconstituted by successive points of light. The view transmitted and presented to the public measured about 20 square centimetres; about ten metres separated the "televised" artists from the screen.

If the method, in its early stages, still needed to be perfected, it was nonetheless the solution to a passionately debated problem. And the success of the Palais de la Télévision was very strong. It did not only attract the attention of the crowds. Among other official visits, it received those of King Leopold III, the Ministers Devèze, Van Isacker, Destrée, the Bus de Warnaffe; Messrs Adolphe Max, Van de Meulebroeck, Count Adrien van der Burch, Caspers, Charles Fonck; Mr Laroche, the French ambassador and members of numerous scientific and other groups.

© Le Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1935