The Funeral for Analog TV

(Photograph by Kevin Steele.) Alexander Rose of The Long Now Foundation says, "Long Now is holding an event I thought the Boing Boing crowd might enjoy: The Funeral for Analog TV with Bruce Sterling and Paul Saffo. The service will take place at the Berkeley Art Museum, Tuesday, February 17, at 7:00 PM." The website for this event explains, "In a soap-operatic melodrama fit for TV itself, Congress has debated changing the official date for the switch to digital television; however our event will proceed on Feb. 17 because we prefer to bury a fresh corpse rather than wait for the walking dead to fall over."


  1. It will indeed be a sad day.

    I plan to hook up the 2 VCRs I have left to antennas to record the last day.

  2. I was planning a live viewing of the last sign-off, but using a VCR is a nice touch. A nice collectible.

    Will there BE a sign off? Like in the olden days, when WPIX TV in New York ran an old B&W film of B-52s flying about while the national anthem played? And then a slide and a voice intoning “concludes its broadcast day”?

    I hope so. I hope the screen just doesn’t go to static.

  3. I’m going to collect ALL the old sets because one day they’ll be valuable! (do you have a basement?)

  4. “I’m going to collect ALL the old sets because one day they’ll be valuable! (do you have a basement?)”

    I’m the same way about my (very) old sliderule. Someday…

  5. My wife didn’t understand the pleasure it brought me to hold the Monkey Wards POS over my head and slam it against the brick wall (in the dump). It hadn’t last but six months.
    I always wanted to produce Downhill Television Races. Down steep and rocky banks, just for the joy of watching them fly apart. The voices said I probably shouldn’t.

  6. I’m finding it terribly amusing that the side blurb says “MRSMITH on THE FUNERAL FOR ANAL…” I thought it was going to be a story related to the porn broadcast during the Super Bowl. ;-)

  7. Yeah, just think:

    Someday somebody will do a sitcom called “That Nineties Show,” and the prop department will have to come up with period-appropriate TVs to stick in each room.

  8. I still don’t understand why we should feel so glad that poor and elderly people who relied on their antennae are now pressured to sign up-and pay- for cable , on limited incomes.

    Why exactly is this a public good again? The extreme botch-job of the rollout seems designed to drive The Poors to pay for what had formerly been free.

    No one has properly explained why this isn’t a naked bid to marginalize poor people just a bit more, nudge them into the “free market”.

  9. not nudge them into the free market: the organ market. Gotta think ahead boy, gotta think ahead. Got two words for ya: “plastic” and “organs”.

  10. When I hook up my converter box I get about half the channels I get with analog reception. Digital broadcasting can’t cope as well with data dropouts due to poor reception. Analog will come through even if the reception is crappy. Watching most of these “superior” channels is like watching a very scratched dvd. This is truly a severe blow to broadcasting since they will lose much of their market and hence advertising dollars. I wouldn’t be surprised if many broadcast stations go out of business. I’ve been trying to tell people that this was a terrible idea ever since I first heard about it.

  11. This “transition” was not an if but a when. It’s currently the When being debated. The why will eventually emerge as the crime it was from it’s beginning. Or a series of crimes. Frequency Spectrum is a resource nearly unique for it’s LACK of respect WRT borders/property lines etc. Thus things that propagate outwards in the RF spectrum both are going to enter unshielded spaces and be of utility in so doing. Unless deliberate encoding is used that is. the penetration of walls etc property is a feature valued about NonDirectionalBroadcasts. and that’s where the TV spectrum is potentially that proverbial “Dog in the Manger” All the DTV transition has done is shuffle the misused spans of spectrum around. With little apparent regard for dare I pun- “the bigger picture” Let’s leave it for those more expert in Low VHF thru UHF propagation to explain the details. Me, I just barely recall such mnemonics as “up frequs down lengths” and “sundown go down” for LF propagation improving after local sunset.

  12. It happens on my birthday. I’m thinkin’ me and my friends will have a last analog day first adult day with smokes and strippers.

  13. I’m less worried about HAARP and more worried about all those new walkie talkie frequencies Blackwater’s gonna have access to. Did I say blackwater? I meant – isn’t it great all our first responders can all talk to each other now, and that all it took to make happen was the retooling of every broadcaster in the nation? Look at the free market in action!

  14. speaking of Blackwater, I heard something the other day about armed posses murdering people after Katrina. “If it moves I shoot it”

  15. We’ve entirely stopped watching TV….killed our Comcast subscription last week. It’s all via computer now.

  16. I just cancelled my Comcast subscription, partly because they said after the transition, our current analog limited basic cable will only be available by upgrading to digital cable or buying a digital converter. But other contradictory statements on their website and on our bills have said that no one with Comcast service will need to get a converter. But partly because the limited basic package has too few channels for a price that’s too high.

    The digital transition will have a bigger and worse impact on people in the US than Y2K. I suppose that’s not saying much.

  17. Why build pirate TV transmitters? Shouldn’t all this stuff end up being sold off in a short matter of time?

  18. @Takuan

    I’ve smoked before. This will just be a “hey I can legally buy them!” smoke day. I don’t really see what the lure is, generally…

  19. Tenn: if there is one vice I could take back and undo of the myriad I’ve followed, fucking tobacco would be it. And I don’t mean having sex with it.

  20. I’ve smoked before.

    Shocked and appalled! Missy, you will march yourself right up to your room and stay there til you are ready to swear of smoking forever!


    What kinda strippers?

  21. hi all, i put together a newsletter for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, an organization dedicated to harnessing the potential of dig media to help children learn. we would love to do a round up of all events commemorating the transition to pure digital TV. if you happen to know of any good candidates to include, I would love to hear about it! thanks so much

  22. @35 I wonder how much useful TV transmission gear will be sold? Even it’s free, big stuff will be useless to the average pirate (3 phase power etc.)
    Could it be modified into other stuff? Jammers? EMP devices?

  23. Finally, here’s a mainstream news article that actually talks about how digital broadcasting can’t compete with analog robustness and so many people will lose stations instead of gain stations:

    Hey, who wants to look at the United States frequency allocation chart? Oh, man, it’s so obvious that bandwidth for emergency services could only come from a massive overhaul of the tv spectrum!

    Does anyone else have a radio scanner and find it odd that the vast majority of the available frequencies in your area are not used? Because I do. I’m telling you, this whole switch is a business scam/conspiracy.

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