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The New

Fifth Edition
The New
Policy, and Impact
Fifth Edition

Michael M. A. Mirabito
Barbara L. Morgenstern
With a Foreword by Mitchell Kapor


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To our families.

To the men and women of the Space Shuttles Challenger

and Columbia and all their fellow travelers.
May their dream live forever in the minds, hearts, and works
of the present and all future generations.
Foreword xi Chapter 4: Computer Technology:
Legal Issues, Y2K, and Artificial
Intelligence 49
Legal Issues 49
Preface xiii Y2K 51
Artificial Intelligence 52
References/Notes 55
Suggested Readings 57
I Foundation 1
Glossary 58
Chapter 1: Communication in
the Modern Age 3
Basic Concepts 3
Systems Approach: Electromagnetic II Information Transmission 59
Pulse Biometrics 8 Chapter 5: The Magic Light:
Conclusion 11 Fiber-Optic Systems 61
References/Notes 12 Overview 61
Suggested Readings 13 Applications 63
Glossary 14 Conclusion 65
References/Notes 67
Chapter 2: Technical Foundations Suggested Readings 67
of Modern Communication 15 Glossary 68
Basic Concepts 15
Digital Technology 18 Chapter 6: Satellites: Operations
Advantages of a Digital and Applications 69
Communications System 21 Satellite Technology 69
Disadvantages of Digital General Satellite Services 75
Communications 25 Direct Broadcast Satellites 77
Standards 26 Satellites, Journalists, and the News 80
References/Notes 28 Conclusion 83
Suggested Readings 29 References/Notes 85
Glossary 30 Suggested Readings 88
Glossary 89
Chapter 3: Computer Technology
Primer 33 Chapter 7: Satellites: New
Hardware 33 Developments, Launch Vehicles,
The Microcomputer 35 and Space Law 91
Computer Software 38 Future Satellite Technology 91
Printers and Local Area Networks 43 Launch Vehicles 94
Conclusion 45 Space Exploration 99
References/Notes 46 References/Notes 102
Suggested Readings 47 Suggested Readings 104
Glossary 48 Glossary 106


Chapter 8: Wireless Technology Applications and Implications 157

and Mobile Communication 107 Production Considerations 159
Wireless Systems 107 References/Notes 161
Mobile Wireless Services 108 Suggested Readings 162
Cellular Telephone and Personal Glossary 163
Communication Services 108
Conclusion 113 Chapter 12: The Production
References/Notes 114 Environment: Personal
Suggested Readings 116 Computers, Digital Technology,
Glossary 117 and Audio-Video Systems 165
Production Equipment and
Applications 165
Digital Recording 168
III Information Storage 119
Information Management and
Chapter 9: Information Storage: Operations 172
The Optical Disk and Conclusion 175
Holography 121 References/Notes 175
Optical Disk Overview 121 Suggested Readings 176
Nonrecordable Media 122 Glossary 177
Recordable Media 125
Other Issues 128 Chapter 13: Digital Television
Holography 130 and Digital Audio
References/Notes 132 Broadcasting 179
Suggested Readings 132 High Definition Television 179
Glossary 133 Digital Audio Broadcasting 185
References/Notes 187
Suggested Readings 189
Glossary 190
IV Production Technologies 135
Chapter 10: Desktop Publishing 137 Chapter 14: The Production
Hardware—The Computer, Environment: Colorization and
Monitor, and Printer 137 Other Technology Issues 191
Scanners 139 Colorization 191
Digital/Electronic Still Cameras 140 Image Manipulation 192
Software 141 Multimedia Legal and Broader
Desktop Publishing Guidelines 143 Implications 193
Applications 144 Virtual Reality 194
Conclusion 145 Electronic Music 197
References/Notes 146 Paperless Society 198
Suggested Readings 147 The Democratization and Free
Glossary 148 Flow of Information—
Maybe 200
Chapter 11: Desktop Video and Conclusion 201
Multimedia Productions 149 References/Notes 203
Multimedia 149 Suggested Readings 204
Desktop Video 152 Glossary 205

V Information, Entertainment, & References/Notes 261

Communications Services 207 Suggested Readings 262
Glossary 263
Chapter 15: The Cable and
Telephone Industries and Your Chapter 19: First Amendment and
Home 209 Online Obscenity 265
Video-on-Demand 209 The Communications Decency Act 265
The Entertainment-Information Child Online Protection Act 269
Merger 210 Filtering 271
Conclusion 214 International Response to Online
References/Notes 215 Obscenity 274
Suggested Readings 216 The V-Chip and the First
Glossary 217 Amendment 276
Conclusion 278
Chapter 16: Teleconferencing and References/Notes 279
Computer Conferencing 219 Suggested Readings 281
Teleconferencing Introduction 219 Glossary 282
Videoconferences 219
Audioconferences 221 Chapter 20: Other First
Other Considerations 221 Amendment Issues: Libel, Hate
Personal Videoconferences 223 Speech, Cyberstalking, and
Advantages of Teleconferencing 223 Copyright 285
Computer Conferencing 224 Introduction 285
Conclusion 227 Online Libel 285
References/Notes 227 Hate on the Internet 291
Suggested Readings 228 Cyberstalking 295
Glossary 229 Copyright 296
Conclusion 302
Chapter 17: Information Services: References/Notes 302
The Internet and the World Wide Suggested Readings 305
Web 231 Glossary 307
Introduction 231
Other Systems 232 Chapter 21: New Technologies:
World Wide Web 233 Wiretapping, Privacy, and Related
Internet and Web Growth 235 First Amendment Issues 309
Other Considerations 240 Wiretapping and Encryption 309
Conclusion 245 Surveillance Beyond the Year 2000 312
References/Notes 246 The USA PATRIOT Act 313
Suggested Readings 248 Conclusion 315
Glossary 250 References/Notes 316
Suggested Readings 317
VI The Law 253 Glossary 318

Chapter 18: E-Mail and Privacy 255

Federal Case Law 255 Afterword 319
Federal Legislation 258
State Legislation and Case Law 259
Conclusion 260 Index 323
The accelerating pace of innovation in who owns one.” In today’s world, in which
technology over the past several decades has every personal computer can be a digital
brought about profound changes, perhaps printing press (as well as a recording studio
nowhere more than in the information and and duplication factory), it is not always
communication media which pervade our simple to distinguish Constitutionally pro-
lives. I am tempted to say we live in a truly tected acts of expression from commercial
wired world, except that the pace of devel- infringement. Nor is it easy to decide how
opment in wireless local area networks and far the government is justified in increasing
advanced cellular transmission is rendering surveillance on its citizens in the name of
the actual presence of wires increasingly national security.
superfluous. Whether wired or wireless, we It is therefore all the more important
live in a connected world, whether we want today that people be well informed about
to or not. Being disconnected and anony- the social and legal issues arising out of new
mous is less and less an option. media technology. In this new edition, Pro-
The audiovisual media of radio, television, fessors Mirabito and Morgenstern continue
movies, and music are increasingly being to provide a comprehensive account of the
created, stored, produced, and distributed technical bases of modern information and
through digital means with profound impact communication technology and its appli-
on the choice and experience of consumers cation. Equally important, the reader will
and the economics for content creators and benefit from their significantly increased
producers. A new medium, the Internet, focus on the critical social and legal issues
has become indispensable for electronic arising out of new technology. The New
commerce, social interaction, and the deliv- Communications Technologies makes a valuable
ery of news, information, and entertainment. contribution to our understanding of the
All this has profound implications in the forces shaping our lives in the twenty-first
civic sphere as well—for our privacy and century.
freedom of expression as citizens. The First
Amendment of the Bill of Rights guarantees Mitchell Kapor
freedom of the press and freedom of expres- Cofounder Electronic Frontier Foundation
sion. As A.J. Leibling famously observed, (
“freedom of the press belongs to the person Chair, Open Source Applications Foundation

WHAT’S NEW logy’s appropriate or inappropriate use and
Readers who are familiar with The New Com-
munications Technologies will see a number of
changes in the fifth edition, including the What’s Unchanged
following: As in previous editions, the book still ex-
plores new technologies from a broad per-
spective. This includes the convergence
• Chapters have been updated to explore factor—the relationships among different
new applications and technological trends. fields and how developments in one area can
• Topics have been updated where affect developments in another area.
appropriate. Applications and underlying concepts
• The chapters contain new illustrations. also remain a focal point. The latter is par-
• The chapters have been reorganized to ticularly salient.Although new products may
enhance the subject flow. be introduced, fundamental principles may
• Legal discussions have been expanded, remain unaltered. Thus, by learning the
with topics ranging from First Amend- concepts now, you may be able to work with
ment issues to copyright and privacy. new applications well into the future.
This is one of this edition’s most impor-
tant improvements. The legal discussions
also cut across social and political issues. THE POTENTIAL READERSHIP
For example, in Chapter 1 we discuss
how biometric technology is used to The book is appropriate for communi-
create more secure identification systems cations technology courses in TV/radio,
(e.g., to restrict access to a computer’s communication, journalism, and corporate
data) and how these systems can have an communication departments. It can also
impact on our individual privacy. serve as a primer for graduate courses in the
same departments and as a supplementary
text for legal, public relations/advertising,
It is also important to note the World
management, and instructional technology
Trade Center tragedy plays a central, but
sometimes hidden, role in certain scenarios.
The book may also prove useful to com-
For example, this event has given birth to
munications professionals, including jour-
numerous government initiatives to combat
nalists, who want to gain a broad overview
terrorism. But while this may be the articu-
of the field. We also hope it will appeal to
lated goal, some individuals believe there
those who are interested in the communica-
are attendant civil liberty implications. It
tion revolution and its impact.
appears this is a growing challenge brought
about by new technologies: the same tools
used to protect our freedom have the potential ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
to curtail our freedom. As communicators,
it’s important to be aware of these issues as As with the first edition, we want to
we make determinations as to a techno- acknowledge those pioneers, those individ-


Figure P.1
The new
technologies have altered
the way we can gain
access to information.
For example, you can
now explore the
world—such as
Stromboli and its active
volcano—via the
Internet. (Courtesy of
Juerg Alean and

uals, who helped launch the communication experience spans the technological, legal,
revolution itself. and economic arenas.As one of the “sparks”
Our students deserve thanks for their of the communications and information
willingness to serve as sounding boards revolution, he shares many important
when new material was introduced and for insights.
providing us with valuable feedback.We also The editorial and production staffs at
want to thank the readers whose comments Focal Press also helped make this book a
about the various editions proved insightful. reality.The fifth edition is a milestone for us.
We also appreciate the ongoing efforts The New Communications Technologies has
and support of Ayn Miralano, our col- been in publication since 1990, and we are
leagues, and the numerous individuals at dif- particularly grateful to a number of individ-
ferent companies who responded to photo uals that we had the pleasure and privilege
requests.Thank you all. to work with over the past 13+ years.
Mitchell Kapor was also gracious enough They include our first editor, Phil Suther-
to write the book’s Foreword. We deeply land, Marie Lee, as well as the editor of
appreciate his taking time out of a busy this edition, Amy Jollymore. Amy has been
schedule for this project. As the founder of extraordinarily gracious and insightful in
the Lotus Development Corporation and guiding the book’s design. We would also
cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foun- like to acknowledge the valuable contribu-
dation as well as the Chair of the Open tions of Kyle Sarofeen, this edition’s produc-
Source Applications Foundation, Mr. Kapor’s tion editor.

DISCLAIMER We also mention the New York Yankees at

different points in the book when exploring
Some of the companies and products a given topic. While this does not imply an
mentioned herein are trademarks or service endorsement or affiliation, we will admit we
marks. Such usage of these terms does not are fans of the most storied team in the
imply endorsements or affiliations. Adobe annals of professional sports. This is, of
product screen shots reprinted with permis- course, a personal opinion . . . and just some
sion from Adobe Systems, Inc. The com- food for thought.
pany’s Premiere®, Photoshop®, PageMaker®,
and Acrobat®, programs are covered in
various chapters.
1 Communication in the
Modern Age

Much has been written about the com- ucts. Together, they have brought about
munication revolution—some of it realistic, massive changes in the world around us.
some of it not.Years ago, authors predicted Chapters 1–3 provide a foundation for
that we would be using videophones, that the exploration of these topics and changes.
satellites would create worldwide commu- These chapters introduce key concepts as
nications nets, and that we would be watch- well as explore digital and computer tech-
ing 3-D television and using personal nologies and applications, the driving force
computers (PCs). Although all of these behind many of the technological changes
predictions have not fully materialized, we see today.
many have. Sophisticated satellites ring the
globe and PCs have forever altered the way
we work.
We are clearly living during a commu- BASIC CONCEPTS
nication revolution. New and existing tech-
nologies and applications are shaping the The Communications System: An
communications industry and society. For Extended Definition
example: A communications system is one such concept.
It provides the means by which information,
• The latest generation of PCs can produce coded in signal form, can be exchanged.
sophisticated multimedia presentations. If we decide to telephone a friend, the
• Optical disks offer increased storage and communications system would include the
production capabilities. telephone receivers, the telephone line, as
• Telephone lines are channels for vast well as other components. We use a variety
information pools. of communications systems to exchange
• Satellites can serve as personal communi- information. As covered throughout this
cations platforms. book, they range from satellites to under-
water fiber-optic lines.
Yet despite this revolution, some changes In the context of this book, the term com-
are actually evolutionary. As we’ll discuss in munications system also has a broad definition.
this book, these changes include the upgrad- (That is, it isn’t limited to a description
ing or modernization of an industry’s infra- of information exchange systems.) It also
structure. Consequently, the communication includes the communications tools we use,
revolution can actually be viewed as a mix their applications, and the implications that
of revolution and evolution—the influx of arise from the production, manipulation,
new and the enhancement of older prod- and potential exchange of information.


discuss noise, another element, in the next


Information as a Signal. When coded in

signal form, information—a person’s voice or

a video camera’s view of the Grand Canyon

—is also compatible with communications
equipment. For example, the camera’s pic-
ture can be transmitted, stored, or altered by
The communications system is also quite
flexible in the representation of informa-
tion. For example, in a fiber-optic system,
light conveys information. In optical storage
media (such as CDs and DVDs), a laser’s
light is used to retrieve information. We’ll
cover these topics in Chapters 5 and 9,
Figure 1.1 Information
PC software can be used respectively.
Information can be defined as a collection of
in ergonomic design— If you’re interested in reading a more
symbols that, when combined, communi-
the practice of developing detailed explanation of what constitutes in-
cates a message or intelligence. When you
equipment and systems formation, see the books by Shannon and
write a note to a friend about the New York
around people. Such Weaver and by Rogers listed at the end of
Yankees, you combine letters and numbers
software can also create this chapter.These books also cover the his-
images suitable for other
to convey your thoughts or ideas, a message
torical and technical elements of informa-
applications. (Courtesy that has meaning to both of you.The com-
tion theory and the mathematical theory of
of Biomechanics Corp., bination of the letters W-o-r-l-d S-e-r-i-e-s
communication and information.
HumanCad Division; is not just a collection of letters: It represents
Mannequin.) a concept.1
In our communications system, this infor-
mation may be coded in a standardized Information: An Extended Definition.
form: in an electronic or electrical signal Information extends beyond the definition
analogous to the coding of information by used in the general communications indus-
the printed letters and, ultimately, words in try. Information is not just television pro-
the note. grams, telephone conversations, and movies
Next, the information can be relayed via stored on digital versatile disks (DVDs).
a telephone line, satellite, or other commu- Information can also take the form of pic-
nications channel. After it is received, it can tures manipulated by a computer that high-
be decoded or converted back into its orig- light details of the human body. Informa-
inal form. tion can also take the form of a library of
This series of steps follows the traditional books stored on optical disks or stock
model of a communications system devised market facts that can be accessed at home
by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver.The with a computer.
system consists of an information source, a Information can also be viewed as a
transmitter, a channel to deliver the infor- commodity. Traditionally, a television pro-
mation, a receiver, and a destination. We’ll gram has a financial value that varies accord-
Communication in the Modern Age 5

ing to its ratings.The information generated

by nontraditional tools is also valuable.Com-
panies use the telephone system to sell finan-
cial data to computer owners. Television
networks purchase images created by remote
sensing satellites to shed light on national
and international news events.

Finally, information can be equated with
power. If you know how to use a computer,
you will be able to tap a greater wealth of
information than a nonuser will, giving you
a political or economic edge.

Figure 1.2
Information Society. Some technological Implications of the Communication Software and hardware
developments, including the notion that Revolution developments provide us
information can be equated with power, The new information and communications with new tools to
have contributed to the creation of an technologies have also profoundly affected manipulate audio and
information society. Even though this term our social structure, and there is a growing video information.
has become cliché, it is nevertheless an interdependence among technology, infor- (Courtesy of Sonic
accurate one. The information society is mation, and society. And new technologies Foundry; Sound Forge
driven by information, be it the latest inter- have raised a series of ethical questions. As Studio.)
national news needed to keep abreast of a described later in Chapter 10, we can now
volatile world market or the creation of use scanners (devices that input graphic
databases that can be accessed by computers. information to a computer) to copy some-
The information society has also created one else’s work.
new job categories, such as web designers In another scenario, some people are afraid
who use computers to create Internet that automation will accelerate the loss of
sites and technical specialists who are hired jobs.This idea is typically linked to the belief
to retrieve information from computer that our society is becoming increasingly
databases. dehumanized as the market is flooded with
The information society has also influ- computers and computer-controlled systems.
enced the U.S. economy.We are becoming a The communication revolution has also
nation based on service rather than manufac- given birth to a global social class. In the
turing. Tubing and steel plants have given past, distinctions between social groups were
way to the service industry. Hospitals, banks, typically influenced by economic, political,
and computer information companies fall and educational factors. These same forces
into the latter category. For many businesses, are present, but our information society may
using and processing information are inte- make these distinctions even more pronou-
gral elements of the services they offer. Still nced.This is especially true if you do not have
other companies produce the tools needed information- and computer-management
to sustain this information-based society. skills.
Meanwhile, new highways are constructed. Look at the world around you. Banks
But instead of carrying cars and trucks, these are shifting to computer-based teller sys-
new “information highways” relay informa- tems, and communications lines are the keys
tion to our work sites and homes. to information pools. But unless you know

political, or educational resources to partic-

ipate in the information age, may be simi-
larly affected on a broader scale.
This situation presents us with a paradox:
More people have access to information
than at any other time in human history, yet
entire slices of our society may not be able

to partake of this information bonanza as we

accelerate toward a world in which infor-
mation is a lifeline.
Yet the communication revolution does
have numerous positive implications. The
same computer systems that some people
fear can improve medical treatment through
enhanced imaging techniques. Other com-
puter systems help individuals with physical
handicaps to better communicate with the
world around them. It can also be argued
that more people have greater access to in-
formation today than ever before, despite its
unequal distribution.
The new technologies also have societal
implications. While one of the book’s focal
points is technology’s applications, the other
is the communication revolution’s fallouts,
ranging from ethical to legal to political
considerations.These considerations play key
roles in defining our information society.
The next section serves as an introduction to
some of these topics, which are discussed at
greater length in subsequent chapters.

Other Factors
Figure 1.3
This drawing highlights the interrelationships between photonics technology and its Convergence of Technologies. The commu-
various fields. As stated in the caption, “photonics—the technology of generating nication revolution accelerated the conver-
and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the
gence of technologies and applications. As
photon.The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to
communications and information processing,” some applications of which will be
described in Chapter 11, powerful PCs,
covered in the book. (Courtesy of Photonic Spectra; Diane L. Morgenstein in when combined with appropriate hardware
Photonics Spectra.) and software, have created integrated desktop
video systems.These tools allow us to create
how to tap these resources, you may join video productions. By combining this capa-
the ranks of the “information poor” and bility with desktop publishing and other
lack the skills necessary to compete for jobs applications, we are able to be more than just
that require computer proficiency. Entire media consumers. We also become produ-
nations, which may not have the economic, cers and editors.
Communication in the Modern Age 7

This newfound capability also has aes- in most cases, undesirable to monitor their
thetic implications. Simply stated, the techni- use. For example, such monitoring could
cal capacity to create a project does not supplant lead to censorship. Copyright laws address
underlying aesthetic principles. these issues, and violators can be prosecuted.
The difficulty, however, may lie in enforcing
The Democratization of Information. The the laws.
communication revolution has also pro- There’s also a problem with recognizing

moted the free flow of information.You can intellectual property as actual property. To
use a desktop publishing system to print a many people, intellectual property is intan-
newsletter, and, when combined with other gible. You could spend a year creating a
equipment, to keep the world community computer program that fits on a CD. On
apprised of fast-breaking political events. the surface, it may not look like much,
This concept has also been extended to just a single disk you can hold in your
other media. As outlined in Chapter 17, an hand. But in reality, it may represent the
electronic democracy can be supported by “product of the creative intellect”—that is,
holding electronic meetings between groups intellectual property, another form or type
of people thousands of miles apart. A key of property.3
element in this process is providing broad,
affordable access to the system. First Amendment Issues. The new com-
munications technologies have also raised
Economic Implications. The communica- First Amendment questions that are covered
tion revolution has economic implications in different chapters. The following are a
and can affect entire industries. In the number of such questions:
United States, one issue is concerned with
“spectrum allocations.”We use the spectrum • Should an electronic information service
as a means to relay information. In our be treated as a publisher or a distributor?
society, this capability also has an economic • What legal measures can help ensure
fallout. that First Amendment rights are sup-
ported and nurtured?
Intellectual Property. The new communi- • How do you reconcile First Amendment
cations technologies raise intellectual property rights with potential censorship?
questions as well, which are essentially the • Has global censorship become more
“rights of artists, authors, composers and prevalent?
designers of creative works.”2 These ques-
tions include the electronic copying of Privacy. As our communications systems
another’s works as well as copyright and become more sophisticated, so too does the
patent issues. potential to invade our privacy, as covered in
A related factor is the malleability of the next section of this chapter. Other facets
information. In our current system, infor- of this topic are subsequently explored in
mation can be readily manipulated. While later chapters.
this capability can be used for creative
purposes, it also highlights a problem: the Other Issues. Our information society
same family of tools that can create a graphic will also be influenced by other factors.Will
or other product can be used to copy it ille- teleconferencing and telecommuting reduce
gally. Because computers and other such human communication to a machine-do-
tools are ubiquitous, it’s also impossible and, minated format? Do computers dehuman-

ize the creative process? Or do they extend in the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS)
our creative capabilities by helping us to and other communications centers. Theo-
transform an idea or vision into an actual retically, if a nuclear burst ever paralyzed our
product? communication capabilities, the protected
EBS stations would be activated to supple-
ment the damaged channels. A potential
problem, however, is the receiving device.To

pick up a broadcast, you may have to rely
on a portable, battery-operated radio, which
is one of the few modern electronic devices
that may not be “readily damaged” by
To wrap up this chapter, it’s important to
the EMP.6 But many modern radios are
discuss one technique the book uses to ex-
actually part of a stereo system, which may
plore the communication revolution: a sys-
itself be damaged. If not, there is a good
tems approach.4 Although you can examine
chance the power plant that supplies the
individual applications and implications, you
electricity to run the stereo would not
should also explore related areas to gauge
interrelationships and their impact on the
Thus, as a society that depends on and is
overall communications system. Without
driven by information, the very tools we use
this broad perspective, you may be looking
to create, manipulate, and deliver this infor-
at an incomplete picture. Two examples
mation would be disrupted, if not rendered
illustrate this point.
inoperable, by a nuclear explosion.The issue
is multifaceted, and a broad systems per-
spective enables us to examine it from dif-
Electromagnetic Pulse ferent angles. We can also cover the key
Our society’s vulnerability to world events implications both inside and outside the
highlights the importance of a systems communications field.
approach. It also points out the interdepen- In keeping with this approach, it’s also
dence between technology and our infor- ironic to note that vacuum tubes are rela-
mation society. In brief, our information tively impervious to EMP effects. But in our
and communications infrastructure could be contemporary communications system, such
crippled and silenced by a single high- tubes have been universally replaced by solid
altitude nuclear explosion.5 This paralysis state chips, one of an EMP’s favorite snacks.
would be caused by a powerful electromag- Thus, as our communications system was
netic pulse (EMP), a by-product of a nuclear modernized, it was also made more vulner-
detonation. able to world events and, potentially, to
Scientists have observed this phenome- random acts of terrorism.
non during weapons tests. They have sub-
sequently used simulations to gauge the
vulnerability of electronic components, equ- Biometric Systems
ipment, and systems that could be affected Biometrics, by their nature, are generally inconsistent
by such a pulse, with the goal of developing with anonymity.Yet the starting point for privacy is the
protection mechanisms. ability of citizens to go about their business freely and
A step in this process was the Federal unobserved.
Emergency Management Agency’s —Malcolm Crompton, Australia’s third
(FEMA’s) program to protect radio stations Federal Privacy Commissioner7
Communication in the Modern Age 9

The importance of adopting a systems

approach is also illustrated by biometrics.
Biometrics can be defined as the “automatic
identification of an individual based on
[his/her] physiological . . . traits.”8 Examples
of biometric systems include fingerprint
identification and voice recognition systems.

Some biometric systems compare and sub-
sequently match the unique characteristics
of a person’s eyes to stored information.
One goal of biometric systems is to verify
a person’s identity without using passwords. carries with it a broad range of technical, Figure 1.4
In another application, law enforcement legal, and ethical implications. Biometric System
agencies have employed biometric technol- Operation.This diagram
ogy in an attempt to identify criminals on highlights, in a
city streets, in airports, and in other locales. Technological Implications. Electronic bio- simplified form, a
In the wake of the World Trade Center metric systems employ various technologies biometric system’s
attacks, the widespread adoption of such and tools. For example, facial recognition operational steps.
security and identification measures has systems involve “the use of a highly au-
been offered as a partial solution to this tomated computerized process to measure
problem. angles and distances between geometric
We have actually seen biometric systems points on the face—eye corners, the nostrils,
in use for years in the movies. Often, a char- the ends of the mouth—to identify an
acter places his or her hand on a sensor next individual.”9 A typical system is composed
to a locked door. The sensor then scans the of a camera that is linked to a computer
hand for specific characteristics and opens system running specialized software. A
the door upon identification. photo taken with the camera is processed so
However, biometric systems didn’t enter that it is compatible with the computer.
mainstream society until the late 1990s and Next, the computer’s software controls the
early 2000s. A common example is a small identification process to determine whether
unit that scan fingerprints and compare the photo matches the individual’s photo
the data against stored information.Targus, a stored in the computer’s database.
company that specializes in computer acces- Some organizations and critics have ques-
sories, recently introduced such a unit for tioned the technological accuracy of these
under $125 for portable and desktop com- systems. The American Civil Liberties
puter systems.With this device, you can limit Union (ACLU), for one, contends that such
other users’ access to your computer, much systems may be inaccurate. In one trial use
like you would use a password to restrict in Tampa, Florida, a facial recognition system
access. was set up to help police at a specific locale.
The field of biometric technology calls However, during this trial run, the system
into focus the collision between technolog- produced a number of false matches (that is,
ical developments and their societal impli- individuals were not properly identified).10
cations. As such, it should be explored from In essence, while this type of system may
a broad perspective to accurately gauge its work well in a controlled environment, it
current and potential impact. Thus from a may not work as well in the real world.
systems perspective, biometric technology Lighting conditions may not be optimal or

the angle in which a given individual information-based initiatives that raise addi-
is “shot” may make proper identification tional questions. In a position paper about
difficult. Total Information Awareness (TIA), a govern-
Other critics have questioned what ment-sponsored program that would pur-
would happen if the information in the portedly compile volumes of personal, me-
database is compromised or inaccurate.11 If dical, and, potentially, biometric information
such stored information is compromised, it about U.S. citizens, the ACLU states:

would be analogous to an individual steal-

Virtual dragnet programs like TIA . . . are based
ing your password to gain access to your
on the premise that the best way to protect
computer. Once a password is compro-
America against terrorism is for the government
mised, the door to your private information to collect as much information as it can about
is unlocked. Likewise, biometric systems are everyone.14
dependent on the quality of the stored data.
Information may be inaccurately keyed, or, According to the ACLU, these informa-
from a technological standpoint, it may have tion pools would have a detrimental effect
defects (such as a poor-quality photo of a on privacy and could be used for moni-
suspected criminal stored in a database). toring our buying habits and for other
commercial enterprises.The ACLU says this
Legal Implications. Such technological would “represent a radical departure from
developments produce legal implications, the centuries-old Anglo-American tradition
such as privacy concerns.While a biometric that the police conduct surveillance only
system may help identify criminals, what where there is evidence of involvement in
is the cost in regard to privacy? Is the wrongdoing.”15 By weighing this factor with
technology too invasive? Or does it have a other surveillance capabilities, some critics
legitimate law enforcement role if used believe Orwell’s notion of “Big Brother”
appropriately? Such systems pose important may become a reality.
Fourth Amendment implications.12 It is also important to note this issue
is somewhat fluid. For example, Senator
Ethical and Political Implications. Bio- Russell Feingold introduced legislation (the
metric technology raises an ethical, and, Data-Mining Moratorium Act of 2003) to
by extension, a political question. Since bio- “immediately suspend data-mining in the
metric systems can be used for identification Department of Defense and the Department
purposes, the data they generate can track of Homeland Security until Congress has
an individual’s movements from place to conducted a thorough review of Total Infor-
place over time.According to the Electronic mation Awareness and the practice of data-
Frontier Foundation (EFF), this has serious mining.”16 Data mining, in this context,
implications since a “society in which every- refers to a comprehensive computer search
one’s actions are tracked is not, in prin- for a particular commodity. In this case, that
ciple, free. It may be a livable society, but commodity is information itself.
would not be our society [current U.S. Much like the ACLU and EFF’s view-
society].”13 point the concern was over privacy and
other matters. The Act did, however, recog-
Broader Implications. From a system’s nize technology’s role in combating poten-
perspective, biometric systems should also tial terrorist activities. The key question
be viewed as components of broader was how broadly this tool would be used
Communication in the Modern Age 11

without the appropriate constraints and, ulti- case of the TIA and similar initiatives, these
mately, Congressional oversight and review. questions include:

• Where do you draw the line between

Supporters and an Update. While the TIA
protecting an individual’s rights and en-
program has critics, others believe it and
suring that a law enforcement agency can
related programs do not put our personal
conduct its work effectively?

privacy at risk. Such supporters contend that
• How do you strike a balance between a
privacy measures were integrated in the TIA
program’s accountability and the need for
when it was created. According to one
flexibility in a rapidly changing world
report, the TIA will keep “the protection of
civil liberties at its forefront while providing
• How do you prevent the misuse of col-
a valuable tool for investigating suspected
lected data?
terrorists and improving communication.”17
• Are there safeguards to correct errors
The TIA program was also renamed the
(such as innaccurate data)?
Terrorism Information Awareness program.
• Can the same technology base that en-
Supporters believe this name more accu-
hances our lives provide a government
rately reflects the program’s original intent:
with unprecedented power and tools to
to participate in antiterrorism activities
delve into our private lives?
rather than collecting information about
ordinary U.S. citizens.18 Thus, from a pro-
These and other similar questions are diffi-
ponent’s perspective, such new technologies
cult to answer. Nevertheless, they are ques-
and their applications actually protect and
tions that are relevant to any free society.
enhance our “open society” as well as our
However, despite assurances from TIA
supporters, the U.S. House and Senate voted
to impose operational limitations and to
This chapter has served as an introduction
eliminate funding for the TIA program,
to the new technologies universe and some
respectively.While a joint conference session
of the implication raised by the communi-
will make the final determination, privacy
cation revolution. The next chapters focus
issues and the government’s slow response to
on more specific topics and will follow
such concerns helped trigger this reaction.19
a preset pattern. When relevant, we will
discuss the technical underpinnings of a
Summary. Biometric technology has nu- given technology, which will help us explore
merous applications and implications. Much and understand its applications.This knowl-
like the EMP, we must explore the topic edge may also prove valuable when decid-
from a broad systems perspective to fully ing whether a technology could be used for
understand its applications and societal im- a specific application and, possibly, for devel-
pacts. If we only examine one facet of the oping applications that are as yet undiscov-
field, such as its technological developments, ered.We will then examine the implications
we ignore other key issues. raised by the technology and its applications.
A systems approach can also help generate an Finally, it is important to repeat a point raised
information pool so we can ask pertinent ques- in the Preface: While new products may be
tions about technologically driven issues. In the introduced and new implications may sur-

face, fundamental principles may remain the

same.The same scenario can play out in the
social, political, and legal fields. For example,
the TIA may not be an issue five years from
now. Nevertheless, the underlying forces
that drove the program’s design as well as
proponents’ and opponents’ arguments may

remain. Thus, if you understand these con-

cepts now, you may be able to work with
their implications well into the future,
regardless of the program’s name.

Figure 1.5
A computer-generated
image of Mount St.
Helens.You can use
computers to create REFERENCES/NOTES
realistic and surrealistic
views of the earth and 1. Frederick Williams, The New Communica- 8. Anil K. Jain et al., “Biometrics: Promising
other worlds. (Software tions. (Belmont, CA:Wadsworth Publishing Co., Frontiers for Emerging Identification Market,”
courtesy of Virtual 1984), 9. Computer 33 (February 2000), downloaded.
Reality Laboratories; 2. Westlaw, Intellectual Property Database, 9. Roberto Iraola, “Dedication to the Small
Vista Pro.) downloaded. Town Attorney: New Detection Technologies
3. “Patents: Protecting Intellectual Property,” and the Fourth Amendment,” South Dakota Law
OE Reports 95 (November 1991), 1. Review, 47 D.D.L. Rev. 8, downloaded from
4. For more information, see Ervin Laszlo, LEXIS.
The Systems View of the World. (New York: 10. American Civil Liberties Union,
George Braziller, Inc., 1972). “Drawing a Blank: Tampa Police Records
5. A single nuclear explosion could theoret- Reveal Poor Performance of Face-Recognition
ically blanket the United States and parts of Technology,” Press Release, January 3, 2002,
Canada and Mexico. It could disrupt the downloaded from
countries’ communications infrastructure even Privacy.cfm?ID=10210&c=39&Type = s.
if the weapon did not cause any direct damage. 11. Mandy Andress, “Biometrics at Work?”
6. Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, The InfoWorld 22 (May 28, 2001), 75.
Effects of Nuclear Weapons. (Washington, DC: U.S. 12. Please see Roberto Iraola, “Dedication
Government Printing Office 1977), 521. to the Small Town Attorney: New Detection
7. Malcolm Crompton, Australia’s Third Technologies,” for an in-depth discussion about
Federal Privacy Commissioner,“Biometrics and Fourth Amendment Implications for a variety
Privacy: The End of the World as We Know It of identifications systems, including those that
or the White Knight of Privacy?,” downloaded tap biometric technology. The Fourth Amend-
from ment itself is more fully defined in this book’s
cro mptonspeech1.htm. e-mail chapter, Chapter 18.
Communication in the Modern Age 13

13. See Electronic Frontier Foundation, 17. Michael Scardaville, “No Orwellian
“Biometrics Who’s Watching You?,” down- Scheme Behind DARPA’s Total Information
loaded from Awareness System,” WebMemo #175, Novem-
lance/biometrics.html. Basically, how much ber 20, 2002, downloaded from www.her
surveillance is too much surveillance?
14. American Civil Liberties Union, “Q&A 75.cfm.
on the Pentagon’s ‘Total Information Awareness’ 18. “Executive Summary: EFF Review of

Program,” downloaded from www/ May 20 Report on Total Information Aware-
Privacy/Privacylist.cfm?c=130. ness,” downloaded from
15. Ibid. TIA/20030523_tia_report_review.php.
16. Congressional Record, “Statements in 19. Dan Verton,“Senate Votes to Kill Antiter-
Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions,” January ror Data Mining Program,” Computerworld ( July
16, 2003 (Senate), pp. A1071–S1085, down- 18, 2003), downloaded from
loaded from
gold-s188.php. ry/0,10801,83205,00.html?nas=AM-83205.


Balaban, Dan.“Should Smart Cards Carry Their Press, 1984. These publications examine
Own Biometric Sensors?” Card Technology different elements of the EMP issue.The first
(November 2001), 24–28; Paul Festa. “All provides a good overview of the creation and
Eyes on Face Recognition.” (March 26, technical implications of an EMP as well as
2003), downloaded from different equipment and protection schemes.
com/2100-1105-99111.html; J.R. Wilson The second covers a wide range of subjects,
“Airport Security Designs Revolve Around including the role of statistics in trying to
Biometrics.” Military & Aerospace Electronics 13 predict potential equipment and system
(September 2002), 15–23.These publications failures.
examine biometric systems and their applica- Inglis, Andrew F. Behind the Tube. Boston: Focal
tions. A smart card is a credit-card–sized Press, 1990; National Telecommunications
information system that may include personal and Information Administration. Telecommu-
and financial data as well as a built-in finger- nications in the Age of Information. NTIA
print biometric sensor.You insert the card in Special Publication 91–26, October 1991;
a reader, touch the sensor with your finger, John V. Pavlik. New Media Technology. Boston:
and are subsequently identified via a stored Allyn and Bacon. 1996; Lenore Tracey.
print. “A Brief History of the Communications
Carter, A.H., and members of the Electrical Industry.” Telecommunications 31 (June 1997),
Protection Department. EMP Engineering and 25–36. These publications provide excellent
Design Principles. Whippany, NJ: Bell Tele- coverage of the communications industry and
phone Laboratories, Inc., Technical Publica- various issues.
tion Department, 1984; John R. Pierce, Mazor, Barry,“Imaging for Biometrics Security:
Chairman, Committee on Electromagnetic The Impact of the Privacy Issue.” Advanced
Pulse Environment; Energy Engineering Imaging 17 (August 2002), 10–11. A round-
Board; Committee on Engineering and table discussion of industry experts about the
Technical Systems; National Research privacy issues raised by biometric systems.
Council. Evaluation of Methodologies for See the ACLU and EFF web sites
Estimating Vulnerability to Electromagnetic Pulse ( and for addi-
Effects. Washington, DC: National Academy tional information about biometric systems

and their legal implications. Also see www. The book about information theory. Also for what may be, at times, oppos- see Ramachandran Bharath. “Information
ing viewpoints. Theory,” Byte 12 (December 1987), 291–298,
Rogers, Everett M. Communications Technology. for a discussion of the information theory;
New York:The Free Press, 1986.An excellent and Edward Tufte. Envisioning Information.
reference and resource, this book examines Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, for an indepth
the history of communications science, the examination of the visual representation of

social impacts of communications technolo- information.

gies, and research methods for studying the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 104th Con-
technologies. gress, 2nd session, January 3, 1996.
Shannon, Claude, and Warren Weaver. The Vonder Haar, Steven.“Censorship Wave Spread-
Mathematical Theory of Communication. ing Globally,” Inter@ctive Week 3 (February
Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1949. 12, 1996): 6.


Biometrics: The automatic identification of an electromagnetic energy that can disrupt

individual based on physiological traits or and destroy integrated circuits and related
characteristics, including fingerprints. components.
Communications System: The means by which Information: A collection of symbols that, when
information, coded in signal form, can be combined, communicates a message or
exchanged. In the context of this book, the intelligence.
communications system also encompasses the Information Society: A society driven by the pro-
communications tools we use, their applica- duction, manipulation, and exchange of infor-
tions, and the various implications that arise mation. Information can be viewed as a social,
from the production, manipulation, and economic, and political force.
potential exchange of information. Intellectual Property: The rights of artists, au-
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): A by-product of a thors, and designers of creative works; the
nuclear explosion; a brief but intense burst of products of the creative intellect.
2 Technical Foundations
of Modern

This chapter introduces the technical acts as a link between our communications
elements that are the foundation of our system and the natural world.
modern communications system. It is also a Certain transducers can also be consid-
continuation of Chapter 1, but concentrates ered extensions of our physical senses.They
more on technical information and digital can convert what we say, hear, or see (for
communication. example, a camera) into signals that can be
The chapter concludes with a discussion processed, stored, and transmitted.2
of the importance of technical standards.
Standards can promote the growth of a
communications technology and industry. The Characteristics of a Signal
If standards are not adopted, the industry’s If a microphone’s operation were visible,
growth could be hampered. we would see what appears to be a series of
waves traveling through the connecting line.
The waves, the electrical representation of
your voice, have distinct characteristics.
BASIC CONCEPTS Two that are pertinent to our discussion are
amplitude and frequency.
The Transducer The amplitude is a wave’s height, and
A transducer is a device that converts one in our example corresponds to the signal’s
form of energy into another form of energy. strength or the volume of your voice. The
When you talk into a microphone, it con- frequency, the pitch of the voice, can be
verts your voice—sound or acoustical energy defined as the number of waves that pass a
—into electrical energy, or in more familiar point in 1 second. If a single wave passes the
terms, an electrical signal. A speaker, also a point, the signal is said to have a frequency
transducer, can convert this signal back into of 1 cycle per second (cps). If a thousand
your voice. waves pass the same point, the signal’s
The “spoken words,” the sound waves, can frequency is 1000 cps.
also be considered a natural form of in- The frequency, the cps, is usually expressed
formation, information that our senses can in hertz (Hz), after Heinrich Hertz, one of
“perceive.”1 the pioneers whose work made it possible
A transducer can convert this category for us to use the electromagnetic spectrum,
of natural information, among others, into a keystone of our communications system.
an electrical representation. The transducer Hence, a frequency of 10 cps is written as


10 Hz. Higher frequencies are expressed in For example, if the snow on a television
kilohertz (kHz) for every thousand cycles screen—the noise distorting the relayed
per second, megahertz (MHz) for every signal—is very severe, it may become im-
million cycles per second, and Gigahertz possible to view the picture.
(GHz) for every billion cycles per second. Noise can be internal, introduced by the
communications equipment itself, or exter-
nal, originating from outside sources. The

Modulation, Bandwidth, and Noise noise may be machine generated or natural.

Modulation is associated with, but not Lightning is one such natural source.
limited to, the communications systems that Lightning is fairly common and may be
are the most familiar to us, including AM manifested as static that disrupts a radio
and FM radio stations. It can be defined as transmission.The sun is another source, cre-
the process by which information, such as a ating interference through solar disturbances
DJ’s program, is superimposed or impressed and other phenomena. Machine-generated
on a carrier wave for transmission.3 A phys- noise, on the other hand, can derive from
ical characteristic of the carrier is altered to the electric motors in vacuum cleaners or
convey, or to act as a vehicle to carry, the large appliances.
information. Prior to this time, it did not When discussing noise relative to a com-
convey any intelligence. munications system, the term signal-to-noise
After the signal is received, the original ratio is frequently encountered. It is a power
information can be stripped, in a sense, from ratio, that of the power or strength of the
the carrier.We can hear the DJ over the radio. signal versus the noise. For information to
For the purpose of our discussion, a com- be successfully relayed, the noise must not
munications channel’s bandwidth, its capac- exceed a certain level. If it does, the noise
ity, dictates the range of frequencies and, to will disrupt the exchange to a degree depen-
all intents, the categories and volume of dent on its strength. It will have an impact
information the channel can accommodate on a communications channel’s quality and
in a given time period.4 transmission capabilities.
A relationship exists between a signal’s
frequency and its information carrying cap-
ability. As the frequency increases, so too The Electromagnetic Spectrum
does the capacity to carry information.The The electromagnetic spectrum is the entire col-
signal must then be relayed on a channel lection of frequencies of electromagnetic
wide enough to accommodate the greater radiation, ranging from radio waves to X
volume of information. A television broad- rays to cosmic waves. Infrared and visible
cast signal, for example, has a higher band- light, radio waves, and microwaves are all
width requirement than either a radio or well-known elements and forms of ele-
telephone signal.5 Consequently, under nor- ctromagnetic energy that compose the
mal operating conditions, a standard tele- spectrum.
phone line cannot carry a television signal. We tap into the spectrum with our
During the information exchange, noise communications devices and use the elec-
may also be introduced, potentially affecting tromagnetic energy as a communications
the transmission’s quality. If the noise is tool—a means to relay information. For
too severe, it may distort the relayed signal example, radio stations employ the radio-
or render it unintelligible, and the infor- frequency range of the spectrum to broad-
mation may not be successfully exchanged. cast their programming.
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 17

Spectrum space, allocated to television

stations and other services, can also be
viewed as a commodity in our information
society. It can generate income, and like oil,
gas, and other valuable natural resources, is
scarce. In this light, the spectrum has an
intrinsic worth and monetary value.

The issue of spectrum scarcity, which has
also been used as a basis for broadcast regu-
lation, is a reflection of our communications
system. We cannot use all the spectrum
for communications purposes, and the
available portions are divided nationally and
New and emerging technologies are
exacerbating this situation. The demand is
so great that when a small portion of the
spectrum opened up for mobile commu- Figure 2.1
nications services in 1991, the Federal Com- period, broadcasters would relinquish the Electromagnetic
munications Commission (FCC) received old allocation, valuable electronic real estate Spectrum. (Courtesy of
approximately 100,000 applications for this that could be auctioned to other users. the Earth Observation
space in 3 weeks.7 It should also be noted that the idea of Satellite Company,
Because the spectrum is such a valuable selling spectrum space is not a new one. In Lanham, MD.)
resource, government agencies called for 1964, for instance, Ayn Rand wrote about
new spectrum management policies. These the broadcast industry that “the airwaves
included imposing fees for spectrum usage should be turned over to private ownership.
and auctioning allocations. The only way to do it now is to sell radio
Proponents initially claimed that auction- and television frequencies to the highest
ing would generate additional revenues, bidders (by an objectively defined, open, im-
and mechanisms would ensure that the partial process).”9 Rand, an author, philoso-
public interest mandate, an important regu- pher, and advocate of capitalism, indicated
latory ideal, would still be met.8 Opponents that private rather than public ownership of
countered that auctioning would conflict the airwaves would have protected the elec-
with the notion that the spectrum was a tronic media from government regulation
public resource. It was not private property and would have ensured an open, competi-
that could be bought and sold. tive, and free marketplace.
Regardless of the viewpoint, Congress In another twist, some individuals called
and the FCC embraced auctioning. In the for switching services: Television should be
late 1990s and the early 2000s, the situation delivered by cable, thus freeing the spectrum
also heated up. Traditional television alloca- for wireless communication. This proposal,
tions became a prime target as high defini- also called the Negroponte switch, after
tion television (HDTV) and other digital Nicholas Negroponte, the director of the
television services were slowly imple- Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s
mented. As described in a later chapter, Media Lab, was offered as a potential spec-
broadcasters received new spectrum space to trum scarcity and management solution.10
host such services. After a specified time This type of switch, though, could not

take place overnight. Over-the-air television Digital and analog signals, and ultimately
is also “free.” Will we still receive free pro- equipment and systems, are generally not
gramming if it is relegated to a cable-based mutually compatible.This mandates the use
delivery system? of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog
conversion processes. They help us to use a
mixed bag of analog and digital equipment
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY in the overall communications system. This

capability is crucial. Digital information has

Digital technology has fueled the develop- certain advantages, and the conversion pro-
ment of new communications lines, in- cesses allow us to tap these advantages even
formation manipulation techniques, and when using a microphone or other analog
equipment. Preexisting communications devices.13
channels and devices have also been affected. Different elements of our communica-
It is one of the communication revolution’s tions structure are also somewhat based on
driving forces. an analog standard. The conversions allow
us to integrate digital technology in this
Analog and Digital Signals: An Finally, different categories of informa-
Introduction tion can be represented and consequently
Many communications devices, such as tele- transmitted over the appropriate channels, in
phones and microphones, are analog devices both analog and digital forms. An analog
that create and process analog signals. As audio signal, for instance, can be converted
stated by Simon Haykin in his book Com- into a digital representation and subse-
munication Systems,“Analog signals arise when quently relayed.
a physical waveform such as an acoustic or
light wave is converted into an electrical
For a microphone, this signal, an electri- Analog-to-Digital Conversion
cal representation of your voice, is said to In an analog-to-digital conversion, the analog
be continuous in amplitude and time. The signal is converted into a digital signal.
amplitude, for example, can assume an enor- Binary language is the heart of digital com-
mous range of variations within the com- munication. It uses two numbers, 1 and 0,
munications system’s operational bounds. arranged in different codes, to exchange
The signal is an “analogue” (analog); that is, information.
it is representative of the original sound The 1s and 0s are also called bits, from the
waves.As the sound waves change, so too do words binary digits, and they represent the
the signal characteristics in a corresponding smallest pieces of information in a digital
fashion. system. They are also the basic building
A digital signal, in contrast, is “a noncon- blocks for a widely used digital information
tinuous stream of on/off pulses. A digital system, pulse code modulation (PCM). A
signal represents intelligence by a code con- simplified description follows.
sisting of the sequence of discrete on or off Pulse code modulation is a coding
states . . .”12 A digital system uses a sequence method by which an analog signal can be
of numbers to represent information and, converted into a digital representation,
unlike an analog signal, a digital signal is a digital signal.14 PCM information consists
noncontinuous. of two states, either the presence or the
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 19

Figure 2.2
A PCM operation.The
diagram has been
simplified for illustration
purposes.The two
sampling points have
been indicated by

samples 1 and 2 (A).
Sample 1 is 2.8 volts
and is assigned to the
nearest step, 3 volts.
Sample 2, 1.1 volts, is
assigned to the nearest
step, 1 volt. Based on
the chart (B), the
samples are coded as
1–1 and 0–1,
respectively.The result is
the PCM signal (C).

absence of a pulse, which can also be ex- step, in turn, corresponds to a unique word
pressed as “on” or 1 and “off ” or 0. composed of binary digits (for example, 11
When the analog signal is actually digi- or 01).
tized, it is sampled at specific time intervals. A sample is then coded and represented
Rather than converting the entire analog by the appropriate word. The word can be
signal into a digital format, it is sampled or relayed as on and off pulses, and when the
segmented, and only specific parts of the information reaches the end of the line, the
signal are examined and converted. Enough receiver detects it. Ultimately, a value corre-
samples are taken, however, to obtain a suf- sponding to the original analog signal at the
ficiently accurate representation of the orig- sampling point has been transmitted since
inal signal. the word represents a known quantity. (Note:
The samples are then compared to, for For more specific details, see the books and
illustrative purposes, a preset scale composed articles at the end of this chapter.)16
of a finite number of steps.The steps repre- Morse code functions in a similar fashion.
sent different values or amplitudes the orig- Information, a message, is coded as a series of
inal analog signal could assume.15 A sample dots and dashes. Following its relay, an oper-
is assigned, in a sense, to the step that ator can reconstruct the original message
matches or is closest to its amplitude. Each since the code represents a known value.

Sampling and Frequency. The sampling resented. Derived from the binary system, an
rate, which is the number of times the 8-bit code is the equivalent of two to the
analog signal is sampled per second, is cen- eighth power (2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥
tral to the reproduction process.The primary 2). A different combination of eight 1’s
goal of sampling is to reflect accurately the and/or 0’s represents each step.
original signal through a finite number of An increase in the number of steps can
individual samples. lead to a more precise representation of

A survey conducted to predict the out- the original signal. Certain communica-
come of a presidential election can serve as tions systems and data also require a large
an analogy. A sample of individual voters number of steps, and consequently levels,
represents the voting population just like the for an accurate representation. Neverthe-
samples of the analog signal represent the less, they’re limited in comparison with the
original signal. range an analog signal could assume.
The sampling rate is based on a signal’s
highest frequency in a given communica- Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog
tions system. If a signal is sampled at a rate Converters. For the purpose of our dis-
that is at least twice its highest frequency, cussion, the analog signal is converted into
the analog signal could be accurately repre- a digital format by an analog-to-digital con-
sented. This is called the Nyquist rate. verter (ADC). Once the coded information
For a standard telephone line, the com- is relayed, it can be reconverted into the
munications channel carries only frequen- original analog signal by a digital-to-analog
cies below 4 kHz, and the sampling rate is converter (DAC) to make the signal com-
8000 samples per second. Enough samples patible, once again, with analog equipment
are generated to reproduce the analog signal and systems. ADCs and DACs act as bridges
and a person’s voice. Note that higher sam- between the analog and digital worlds.
pling rates can also be employed.
The Transmission. After the analog signal
Steps. In many communications systems, is sampled and coded, the final transmission
when the analog signal is digitized, it is gen- can be composed of millions of bits. In
erally coded as either 7- or 8-bit words. A one format, the telephone industry has em-
relationship exists between the number of ployed an 8 bit-per-word code when the
bits in a word and the number of steps: As analog signal is digitized, and a telephone
bits are added, the number of steps that can con-versation can be transmitted at the rate
represent the analog signal increases in kind. of 64,000 bits per second (64 kilobits/
With an 8-bit-per-word code, essentially second). Other digitized analog signals sim-
256 levels of the signal’s strength can be rep- ilarly generate high bit rates.

- -
Figure 2.3
An ADC and DAC
operation. An analog
signal is converted into a
digital domain via the ADC DAC
ADC, and back into
analog, with the DAC.
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 21

This high volume of information poses a

problem for some communications systems.
They may not have the capacity to transmit
the information, and special lines are used.
One such line is the T1 carrier. It can trans-
mit 24 digitally coded telephone channels
at a rate of 1.544 million bits per second

(1.544 megabits/second).This data stream is
also composed of bits that ensure the data’s
integrity and satisfy other technical and
operational parameters.
The T1 line is one of the workhorse
channels of the communications industry, the gray scale.The gray scale refers to a series Figure 2.4
and transmissions take place both inside and or range of gray shades and to the colors The visual effect of
outside of the telephone system. It is also a black and white, all of which compose and reducing the number of
flexible standard and can integrate voice and reproduce the scene. A pixel is represented gray levels in an image.
data so one communications channel can by a binary word that is equivalent to a level
carry different types of information. It can of this scale.19
also accommodate video.17 The actual number of gray levels is deter-
mined by the number of bits assigned to a
word. If too few bits are used, only a limited
ADVANTAGES OF A DIGITAL number of gray shades will be supported,
COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM and the image may not be accurately
Digital communications equipment and Once the picture has been digitized, it
systems have numerous advantages. These can be computer manipulated. A special
features have and will continue to provide effect can be created, or in a science disci-
the impetus for their continued use and pline, picture qualities and defects can be
growth. enhanced and corrected—an unfocused
picture can be sharpened.
Information in digital form also lends
Computer Compatibility itself to mass storage, and the information
Once digitized, a signal can be processed by can be duplicated, as is the case with video
a computer. The capability to manipulate copies, without generation loss. Both topics
digitally coded information, such as a video are covered in later chapters.
camera’s pictures, is central to the video
production industry and other industries.
For a camera, the video signal, an electri- Multiplexing
cal representation of the light and dark Digital and analog signals can be multi-
variations, the brightness levels of the scene plexed; that is, multiple signals can be relayed
the camera is shooting, is converted into a on a single communications line.The signals
digital form. The digital information repre- share the line and, thus, fewer lines have to
sents picture elements (pixels); a number of be constructed and maintained.
small points or dots that actually make up Two advantages offered by multiplexing
the picture.18 In a black-and-white system, are its cost and labor-saving properties. In
a pixel assumes a specific level or shade of frequency-division multiplexing (FDM), a

signal may be “. . . degraded in this process

because of the ever-present noise . . .”21
Noise can also accumulate, and the signal’s
quality can progressively deteriorate.
Digital systems are not similarly affected.
Instead of boosting a signal, the pulses
are regenerated. New pulses are created and

relayed at each repeater site. This process

makes a digital transmission much hardier.A
digital transmission is also less susceptible to
noise and interference in general, further
contributing to its superior transmission
Figure 2.5 communications line is divided into separate capabilities.
The Mariner 4 space and smaller channels, each with its own This factor led to the adoption of a digital
probe. As described in unique frequency. For a telephone system, relay by the National Aeronautics and Space
the text, Mariner 4 the various signals are assigned to these sepa- Administration (NASA) during the 1964
helped pioneer the rate channels, processed, and relayed. Mariner 4 mission to Mars. Mariner 4 pro-
exploration of Mars.
In time-division multiplexing (TDM), vided us with the first close-up views of the
(Courtesy of the
National Space Science
time, not frequency assignments, separates planet, and the digital relay helped preserve
Data Center— the different signals. A TDM scheme can the information’s integrity as it traveled
NSSDC.) make for a very effective relay when con- through millions of miles of space.22
ducted in the digital domain. An example is
the T1 line as employed by the telephone
industry. Flexibility of Digital Communications
The T1 system is digital in form, but Systems
the typical telephone receiver and parts of Digital systems are flexible communications
the local telephone system work with analog channels that can carry information ranging
information. This requires the analog signal from computer data to digitized audio and
to be digitized. Briefly, groups of signals, the video. In an all-digital environment, analog
different conversations, are divided into signals, such as those produced by tele-
smaller pieces for transmission. Each signal phones, would be digitized, whereas com-
is relayed a piece at a time, in specific time puter data, already in digital form, would be
slots.20 This digital multiplexing system is accommodated without this type of pro-
fast, efficient, and clean, with regard to the cessing. A digital configuration would also
signal’s quality. It can also be controlled and eliminate the use of a conventional modem,
monitored by computers with all the at- even though a special adapter may be re-
tending advantages—computer accuracy and quired to connect a computer, for example,
speed. to the line.
The modem, an acronym of the words
modulator and demodulator, is used to relay
Integrity of the Data When computer data over a standard telephone
Transmitted line. It converts a computer’s information
A relay may necessitate the use of a re- into a form that complies with the techni-
peater(s), which with an analog signal, cal characteristics of the line. At the other
strengthens or amplifies the signal as it end, the information is reconverted by a
travels along the transmission path. But the second modem.
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 23

In the early 1980s, typical consumer and accessible from a wall outlet . . . with a
business data relays were conducted at 300- variety of devices able to be simply plugged
to 1200-bits-per-second speeds. Contempo- and unplugged.24
rary relays greatly exceed this figure and As envisioned, pictures, computer graph-
equate to more efficient and cost-effective ics, and data would be exchanged with the
operations.23 Nevertheless, modem-based same regularity and ease with which a tele-
relays are limited, and users want to gain phone is used for conversations. The com-

access to more information in shorter time munication process would also be more
periods. The changing nature of the infor- transparent. Just like a car or telephone is
mation itself is accelerating this process. typically used without thinking about the
Earlier relays were generally text-based.You underlying technologies, a range of infor-
sat in front of a monitor, typed a command, mation would be easily relayed without
and depending on the relay’s speed, watched calling in a computer or communications
the requested information slowly fill the expert.
screen. While the idea is good, ISDN technology
This text-dominated stream has evolved. was not universally embraced.The problems
It is now composed of text, audio and video ranged from standards and pricing issues to
clips, graphics, animations, and other data availability.
types. More pointedly, this new information But the rapid growth of the Internet,
requires higher capacity and faster commu- covered in a later chapter, helped fuel the
nications channels—broadband communica- development of more consumer/general
tions systems or highways—that support business-oriented systems, which generally
the high-speed delivery of information and embody these goals. In one example, cable
entertainment services to consumers and companies developed a cable-based delivery
businesses. system, where a computer taps the Internet
One goal is to break through bottlenecks through a cable link and a cable modem.
caused by Telephone companies, for their part, intro-
duced Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) sys-
• slower communications channels, tems by using “existing telephone lines to
• the ever increasing data load, and deliver Net [Internet] data at speeds up to
• data intensive media types (e.g., video). 50 times faster than a 28.8 Kbps modem.”25
Different DSL flavors exist, but the upshot
A complementary goal has been to develop is that we can now relay and receive infor-
cost-effective communications systems that mation at faster rates over our telephone
are flexible, can integrate different informa- lines.26 The satellite industry is also a player
tion on a single line, and are easier to set-up in this field.With the proper configuration,
and use. you can gain access to the Internet through
An example of an earlier platform or a satellite relay, even though the telephone
network, which taps the telephone infra- line may be used for the information request
structure and satisfies certain of these crite- in one configuration.
ria, is the Integrated Services Digital While a given application may still not be
Network (ISDN). The ISDN “can be fully transparent, in regard to its implemen-
thought of as a huge information pipe, tation, DSL and cable-based systems are
capable of providing all forms of communi- the high-speed Internet/information deliv-
cations and information (voice, data, image, ery vehicles of choice for general consumer
signaling). . . . It is an information utility and business use. In many instances, they can

also be “plug and play” processes—you at- This superior stability and durability is
tach or plug the device in, and you may be partly due to the integrated circuit (IC). An
able to use the application with a minimum IC is a semiconductor, a solid-state device
of fuss.27 that is one of the driving forces behind our
It is also important to note two other information and communications systems.
developments: In essence, the IC is one of the much talked
about chips that helped launch the commu-

1. ISDN applications are still widely used nication revolution.

in the business world to support various The creation of the IC chip had an enor-
applications.28 However, the original mous impact on technology. For example,
dream of creating a flexible information instead of wiring thousands of individual
pipeline is actually more apropos to the components to build a piece of equipment,
Internet and its complementary commu- a single chip is used. If the equipment mal-
nications systems. functions, only one chip may have to be re-
2. We still use conventional modems. They placed, and it is easier to isolate component
are valuable tools, particularly if you don’t failures.
have access to a high-speed link or if you But ICs are not without their own set of
are travelling and have to contact your problems. Initial development costs may be
home or office. Geographical restric- high, and until the chips are mass produced,
tions (distance) also play a role in this sit- the early units can be expensive. The chips
uation, and it may not be possible to also tend to be vulnerable to static charges
establish a link between a customer and a and power surges. If exposed to such an
telephone company’s central office for environment, a chip’s operational capabili-
DSL or other telephone-based services. In ties may be temporarily or permanently
the case of a cable operation, a high-speed disrupted.
link may not be supported, or if you live Political issues may also have an impact.
in a rural area, you may not have access In one example, the price of computer
to cable. High-speed links are also more memory chips soared during the 1980s.
expensive than conventional modem- The Reagan administration tried to protect
based operations. American chip manufacturers from Japanese
Finally, the modernization of a nation’s competitors, and a short-term outcome of
telecommunication infrastructure is crucial. this political maneuvering was a jump in
As stated, information is a commodity. The chip prices. At one point, a single, common
country that can create an efficient national memory chip was more expensive than an
and international information platform will ounce of silver.
have a decided advantage when competing The 1990s witnessed a similar situa-
in the world market. tion. Small, portable computers fitted with
liquid crystal display (LCD) panels became
popular. A group of American manufactur-
Cost Effectiveness ers subsequently charged the Japanese with
As digital equipment is mass produced dumping inexpensive panels on the market,
and manufacturing costs are reduced, digital and a tariff was levied on such imports to
systems become increasingly cost efficient help support American manufacturers.
to build and maintain.They’re also generally Although the tariff could have helped
more stable and require less maintenance manufacturers in the long term, there was a
than comparable analog configurations. consequence. Imported computers already
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 25

fitted with the displays were exempt from immediate replacement of our telephones,
the tariff, and American computer compa- television sets, and radios or the use of special
nies threatened to move their manufactur- converters. The same principle applies to
ing facilities offshore to avoid the additional communications organizations. The indus-
fee.29 Thus, government intervention led to try’s retooling would cost billions of
unforeseen circumstances. dollars and would disrupt both industry and

Thus, the change to a digital standard has
DISADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL generally been evolutionary rather than rev-
COMMUNICATIONS olutionary. As described in different chap-
ters, many of the new technologies and their
With any technology, there are disadvan- products will be integrated in the current
tages as well as advantages. Digital technol- communications structure, which may ease
ogy is no exception. the impact of their introduction.
A case in point is the recording industry
and the compact disk (CD) market. If
Quantization Error an individual owned a turntable and large
The digitization process may introduce a record collection, an overnight switch to a
quantization error if not enough levels are CD format would have made the original
used to represent the analog signal. If, for system obsolete. The old records, the LPs,
instance, a video system is governed by a 2- were not compatible with a CD player, and
bit word code, only four colors would be the owner may not have been able to pur-
reproduced. The original analog signal and chase additional records.
scene would not be accurately represented. Accordingly, CD players and disks were
To correct the problem, the number of levels integrated in the industry. Companies began
can be raised. But since this may increase the manufacturing CD players while maintain-
relay and/or storage requirements, a com- ing their conventional equipment lines.
promise is usually made between these The record industry likewise supported the
factors and the accuracy of the digitization new medium but continued to produce
process. vinyl LPs.
As more CD players were sold, the CD
market expanded. Record companies in-
Dominance of the Analog World creased their CD production and curtailed
and Standards their vinyl lines. This trend accelerated, and
We live, to a certain extent, in an analog the digital format, along with audiocassettes,
world. Many forms of information, besides dominated the industry. But because the
the devices and systems that produce and process was somewhat gradual, the industry
relay information, are analog. These include was not disrupted. Owners did not suffer
telephones, televisions, and radios. This immediate losses, and equipment manu-
necessitates the use of ADCs and DACs. facturers continued their support of LP
systems, albeit at a reduced level (a similar
scenario is playing out in the consumer
Public Investment videotape and DVD markets).
The public investment issue must also Other factors do play a role in the accep-
be weighed. An overnight switch to an tance of a new technology.This may include
all-digital standard would necessitate the whether a product is cost effective when

compared with the product it is replacing. the chaos that would arise if multiple stan-
For the CD, a player’s cost fell over a rela- dards were adopted.
tively short time. The idea of allowing an industry to adopt
Another potential factor is whether a its own standards, especially in the tele-
product has certain advantages over preex- communications industry, had also be-
isting ones. For the average user, the CD sat- come more prevalent. In the view of the
isfied this criterion, which contributed to its National Telecommunications and Infor-

popularity. mation Administration (NTIA) in a 1991

Finally, while the gradual integration of a document,
new technology and its products may have
[t]he task of standards-setting is best left to the
benefits, it may not always be the best tech- private sector. . . . We recognize that there may be
nological solution. In one case, the issue of rare cases where FCC or NTIA action to expe-
backward compatibility chained the color dite the standards process could be justified. . . .
television standard to the past, to the detri- Government intervention could include media-
ment of a picture’s perceived quality. Similar tion among conflicting interests or a mandate to
concerns were raised that this scenario could industry to develop standards by a time certain
have been played out in the development of [sic], leaving the actual development of standards
a new television standard, as discussed in to the private sector. . . . Any intervention, how-
Chapter 13. ever, should be limited to cases where there is a
On the one hand, a bold, technological specific and clearly identified market failure, and
step forward, free of past constraints, could where the consequences of that failure outweigh
the risk of regulatory failure (i.e., forcing the res-
revolutionize elements of the communica-
olution of a standard too early in the development
tions industry.The downside, though, could of a technology).30
be industry disruption and the public invest-
ment factor. The private sector, industry, should have
the freedom to develop appropriate stan-
dards in an open market. But according to
STANDARDS some individuals and agencies, if standards
do not emerge—to the detriment of a tech-
This final section is devoted to the idea of nology and an industry—then government
standards, another central concept that will intervention may be appropriate. The
resurface in future chapters. Simply stated, adoption of this regulatory stance could
standards are a series of technical parameters be important for new products that have to
that govern communications equipment and compete in a marketplace with established
systems.The standards dictate how informa- competitors.
tion is generated, stored, and exchanged.The The standards issue is vital for several
Society of Motion Picture and Television reasons. First, if standards didn’t exist, it
Engineers (SMPTE) and other national and would be almost impossible to develop an
international organizations have been en- electronic communications system and to
gaged in this task. foster the idea of equipment compatibility.
A standard’s influence can vary. Some are Without standards, the telephone and tele-
mandatory and legally enforced. Other stan- vision you buy may not be compatible with
dards are voluntarily supported or may be de the local telephone system and television
facto in form. Various technical and eco- station.
nomic forces may generate industry-wide Second, standards can promote the
support for the latter, thus helping to avoid growth of a communications system. If a
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 27

standard is adopted, both manufacturers

and consumers can benefit. A manufacturer
would be ensured that its television set
would work equally well in New York City
and Alaska.The consumer would be willing
to purchase the set for the same reason.
There can also be multiple standards in

the same industry and, depending on the
circumstances, they may not adversely affect
its growth. The parallel development of the
Beta and VHS videotape formats serves as an
example. While incompatible, they created
their own market niches, despite VHS’s
emergence as the de facto consumer standard.
The presence of two strong standards in
a market may also accelerate an industry’s
growth.The competition may spur a manu-
facturer to introduce improved equipment
to gain a larger market share.
Although multiple standards could be
beneficial, this is not always true.This factor
could have a devastating effect on an orga-
nization that is introducing a new applica-
tion in a competitive field. In one case, system was easy to use and affordable. But it Figure 2.6
competing standards may splinter a small, became obsolete. The equipment and gov- A fallout of the digital
initial market. erning standards were superseded. revolution is the
Third, an accepted standard helps guaran- Fourth, standards have an impact in the introduction of cost-
tee that a piece of equipment you buy today international video markets. For example, effective digital tools.
These include portable
will generally not be replaced by a new the industry has been dominated by incom-
video editing systems
and incompatible device tomorrow. While patible standards: NTSC, SECAM, and PAL. that can support a high-
developments do take place and equipment A program produced under one system quality output.
may become obsolete, this process may be must undergo a conversion process to make
gradual. This protects industry and the it compatible with another system.31 This
consumer. arrangement has posed some problems for
It is also appropriate to point out that the international market. It creates a road-
obsolescence does not necessarily mean block in the exchange of programs and adds
incom-patibility.An older video camera may to a program’s overall cost.
not have all the latest technological “bells Thus, even though the adoption of a
and whistles,” but it may still be compatible single standard might have fueled a country’s
with your system. domestic video industry, the variety of
There’s a point, though, at which a stan- standards became a hindrance.This problem
dard may be replaced by another, as was has assumed a greater degree of importance
the case with the 1/2-inch black-and-white as the communications industry becomes
videotape recorder (VTR). In the 1970s, this increasingly international in scope, in keep-
portable VTR and companion camera were ing with the automotive, computer, and
popular with video artists and schools. The other major industries.


1. Frederick Williams, The New Communica- 14. Bernhard E. Keiser and Eugene Strange,
tions (Belmont, CA:Wadsworth Publishing Co., Digital Telephony and Network Integration (New
1984), 133. York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc.,
2. Ken Marsh, The Way the New Technology 1985), 19.

Works (NewYork:Simon and Schuster,1982),26. 15. William Flanagan, “Digital Voice and
3. Herbert S. Dordick, Understanding Modern Multiplexing,” Communications News (March
Telecommunications (New York: McGraw-Hill 1984), 38E.
Book Publishing Co., 1986), 32. 16. Thanks to Jim Loomis, director of
4. Technically speaking, the bandwidth is the Telecommunications Facilities, Ithaca College,
difference between the highest and lowest fre- for his suggestions for this section.
quencies (that is, the range of frequencies) a In a more detailed look at this process, three
communications channel can accommodate. phases are completed. In the sampling phase, the
The term bandwidth is likewise applied to the analog signal (continuous in time and ampli-
signals that are relayed over these channels. Note tude) is sampled.This creates a pulse amplitude
also that a time factor plays a role. In essence, a modulation (PAM) signal.The amplitudes of the
communications channel can accommodate or individual and discrete PAM pulses correspond
relay a specific volume of information in a given to the variable amplitude of the original analog
time period based on the channel’s capacity and signal at the sampling points. Thus, the am-
the noise present on the line. plitudes of the PAM pulses are continuously
5. For example, it has a greater information variable, like the original signal. In the next
content. phase, the quantization stage, the PAM pulses
6. For example, in the United States, gov- are assigned to the nearest steps or levels in
ernmental agencies/services may also receive reflection of their amplitudes. This phase
allocations. converts the wide range of amplitudes to a
7. “Al Sikes’s Grand Agenda,” New York Times finite and limited number of amplitudes or
(June 2, 1991), Section 3, 6. Note: All over- values.The final phase is the coding process.The
the-air communications systems do not require samples are coded in binary form. Conse-
FCC allocations. Commercial over-the-air lasers quently, the original analog signal, which is
discussed in a later chapter fall in this category. continuous in time and amplitude, is made non-
8. Basically, the public would still be served continuous by the sampling and quantization
by various types of programming, such as news phases.
and public information shows. In this type of system, the information is also
9. Ayn Rand, “The Property Status of Air- composed of pulses with identical amplitudes.
waves,” The Objectivist Newsletter 3 (April 1964), This is a reflection of PCM information where
13; from the reprint of The Objectivist Newslet- the amplitudes do not convey the information.
ter,Vols. 1–4 (New York: The Objectivist, Inc., 17. The T1 line is only one of a digital
1971). family of lines.
10. Gary M. Kaye, “Fiber Could Be Winner 18. Arch C. Luther, Digital Video in the PC
in the Battle for the Spectrum,” Photonics Spectra Environment (New York: McGraw-Hill Book
25 (November 1991), 79. Publishing Co., 1989), 51. The picture is orga-
11. Simon Haykin, Communication Systems nized in memory as a series of pixels. Note: For
(New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1983), 6. specific technical details, see Frederick J. Kolb,
12. Tom Smith, Telecabulary 2 (Geneva, IL: Jr., et al., “Annotated Glossary of Essential
abc TeleTraining, Inc., 1987), 28. Terms,” SMPTE Journal 100 (February 1991),
13. The analog information is converted into 122.
digital information, as described in the next 19. The level, in turn, is delineated by the
section. brightness value of the corresponding section
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 29

of the original scene now represented by the (2B + D): two 64 kilobit/second B channels for
pixel. information (for example, voice) and one 16
20. In this particular configuration, digitized kilobit/second D channel for signaling and
information from 24 channels is transmitted control information. Primary Rate Interface
one after the other on the line. The informa- (23B + D): 23 64 kilobit/second B channels and
tion is organized in a grouping (frame). Fol- one 64 kilobit/second D channel. For Europe,
lowing the transmission, the 24 channels are the Primary Rate Interface is 30B + D.”

separated. For details, see Tom Smith, Anatomy 25. Michelle V. Rafter, “Users, Start Your
of Telecommunications (Geneva, IL: abc TeleTrain- Modems,” The Industry Standard 2 (October 11,
ing, Inc., 1987), 107. 1999), 16.
21. Henry Stark and Franz Tuteur, Modern 26. This includes, in a trial operation of Bell
Electrical Communications (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Atlantic’s Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979), 162. (ADSL) service, the delivery of video informa-
22. Michael Mirabito, The Exploration of tion. Please see Salvatore Salamone, “Higher
Outer Space with Cameras (Jefferson, NC: McFar- Data Speeds Coming in Plain Phone Lines,”
land and Co., 1983), 30. Note: Digital commu- Byte 21 (January 1996), 37, for details.
nications systems similarly played an important 27. In reality, this may not always be the case,
role in later missions. Digital tools were also and you still may have to configure your
used to enhance and manipulate the pictures computer to properly function.
produced by a spacecraft’s camera system after 28. This includes, as described in a later
the data were received on Earth. chapter, videoconferencing.
23. The terms bits per second and baud are 29. “Dropping the Color LCD Tariff Will
associated with a modem’s relay speed.There are Save Jobs,” PC Week 9 (February 10, 1992), 76.
differences between the two, however. For a Note: American chip manufacturers experi-
detailed discussion, see Brett Glass, “Buyer’s enced a recovery during the early 1990s (for
Advisory,” InfoWorld 13 (October 21, 1991), 147. example, a consortium of companies formed to
24. Don Wiley, “The Wonders of ISDN promote research and development).
Begin to Turn into Some Real-World Benefits 30. NTIA, Telecommunications in the Age of
as Users Come On Line,” Communications News Information, NTIA Special Publication 91–26,
( January 1987), 29. Please see Bill Baldwin, October 1991, xvi.
“Integrating ISDN Lines for Financial Users,” 31. The standards are national in origin and
Telecommunications 25 (June 1991), 34, for more have been used by different countries. For
specific information about ISDN systems, analog systems they are United States, NTSC;
including its data rates: “Basic Rate Interface England, PAL; and France, SECAM.


Berst, Jessie. “The Broadband Contenders.” Bigelow, Stephen J. Understanding Telephone Elec-
Downloaded from ZDNET; Linden de- tronics. Carmel, IN: SAMS, 1991. A compre-
Carmo. “Packet Protector.” Emedia Magazine hensive overview of the telephone, from basic
(November 2001), 36–42; Michelle V. Rafter. concepts to digital and network operations.
“Users, Start Your Modems.” Telecom 2 Clement, Fran. “Digital Made Simple.” Instruc-
(October 11, 1999), 116–121. Coverage of tional Innovator (March 1982), 18–20; Bill
DSL systems, and for the deCarmo article, an Gibson. “Sampling Rates.” (from The
implication for an Internet-based application AudioPro Home Recording Course), down-
(video streaming as described in the Internet
chapter, Chapter 17). 01_jan/features/01_14/

Good primers about digital information, “Radio Wave Propagation.” Hands-On Electronics
signals, and the digitization process. (November/December 1985), 32–38, 104. A
Cosper, Amy C. “One-Way Data Traffic Over primer on how a radio wave can travel from
DBS Satellites.” Satellite Communications 21 its source to the receiver.
(May 1997), 32–34. Satellite data relays Rogers, Tom. Understanding PCM. Geneva, IL:
(including the Internet). abc TeleTraining, Inc., 1982. One of a series
Edwards, Morris. “What Telecomm Managers of abc TeleTraining publications. This par-

Need to Know About Europe ‘92.” Communi- ticular publication provides an excellent
cations News (June 1991), 64–68. An earlier overview and explanation of PCM.
look at European communications systems. Streeter, Richard.“Is Standardization Obsolete?”
Haykin, Simon. Communication Systems. New Broadcasting (February 9, 1987), 30. A brief
York: John Wiley & Sons, 1983, 408–428. article about the importance of standards.
Technical descriptions of PCM and multi- Tropiano, Lenny, and Dinah McNutt. “How to
plexing operations, among other communi- Implement ISDN.” Byte 20 (April 1995),
cations topics. 67–74. ISDN growth and setting-up a
McLachlan,Wayne.“Analog Video 101 and 102 connection.
for All.” SMPTE Journal 110 (March 2001), Winch, Robert G. Telecommunication Transmission
151–157. An excellent overview of analog Systems. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998. An
video (broadcast) and technical issues on the excellent examination of telecommunica-
road to a digital standard. tions systems and their operation.


Analog Signal: A continuously variable and volume of information the channel can
varying signal. Many of the communications accommodate in a given time period.
devices and systems we are most familiar Digital Signal: A digital signal is noncontinuous
with, such as telephones and conventional and assumes a finite number of discrete
radio stations, produce and process analog values. Digital information is represented by
signals. bits, 1s and 0s.
Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC): An ADC Digital Subscriber Line: A high-speed and
converts analog information into a digital high-capacity communications link used by
form. ADCs work with DACs to bridge the consumers and businesses.
gap between analog and digital equipment Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC): A DAC con-
and systems. verts digital information into an analog form.
Binary Digit (bit): A bit is the smallest piece of Electromagnetic Spectrum: The entire collection
information in a digital system and has a of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation.
value of either 0 or 1. Bits are also combined Frequency: The number of waves that pass a
in our communications systems to create point in a second. The frequency of a signal
codes to represent specific information values. is expressed in cycles per second or, more
Channel: A communications line. The path or commonly, in hertz.
route by which information is relayed. Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN): A
Communications Channel Bandwidth: A commu- digital communications platform that could
nications channel’s bandwidth, its capacity, seamlessly handle different types of infor-
dictates the range of frequencies and, to all mation (for example, computer data and
intents and purposes, the categories and voice).
Technical Foundations of Modern Communication 31

Modem: The device used to relay computer Standards: The technical parameters that
information over a voice-grade telephone govern the operation of a piece of equipment
line. A modem is used at each end of the or an entire industry.A standard may be man-
relay. dated by law, voluntarily supported, or de facto
Modulation: The process by which information in nature.
is impressed on a carrier signal for relay T1 Line: One of the workhorse and important
purposes. digital communications channels. Informa-

Multiplexing: The process whereby multiple tion is relayed at a rate of 1.544 megabits/
signals are accommodated on a single com- second.
munications channel. Transducer: A device that changes one form of
Picture Element (Pixel): A pixel is a segment of energy into another form of energy. Trans-
a scan line. ducers are the core of our communications
Pulse Code Modulation (PCM): A digital coding system and include microphones and video
system. cameras.
3 Computer Technology

The computer played a pivotal role in laun- defined. Both terms are used synony-
ching the communication revolution.This is mously and interchangeably.”3 This book
particularly true of the microcomputer, also follows suit.
known as the personal computer. The PC 3. When appropriate, specific computer pro-
has made it possible for us to complete jobs ducts may be used to describe applica-
ranging from designing spreadsheets to cre- tions.They simply serve as springboards to
Figure 3.1
ating graphics for a news show. explore these topics.
Contemporary software
PCs have also influenced a new genera-
has simplified numerous
tion of audio and video equipment. As operations. In this case,
described in later chapters, PCs, other com- HARDWARE you can tap a PC-based
puter systems, and microprocessors have Help System to quickly
touched almost every phase of the produc- PCs are equipped with a number of com- find information about a
tion process.1 Consequently, this chapter ponents. Some of the important ones, forms program’s features and
serves as an introduction to computer tech- of which may be used by other computer operation. Simply move
nology and its complementary communi- systems, are discussed in the following the cursor to a term and
cations applications. It also provides a found- subsections. click a mouse button—
ation for exploring the computer’s roles at the linked information
work, at home, and at play. But before we (the description)—
appears. (Software
begin, three points about terms and other Memory courtesy of Adobe
matters, as used by the book, must be made: A computer’s memory is its internal storage Systems, Inc.;
1. The generic term personal computer (PC) system and workspace. The most important Photoshop.)
is used for Apple’s Macintosh series
(Macs) as well as IBM PCs and clones
(e.g., Compaq, Dell, etc.).The Amiga also
falls under this generic term.2
2. The terms data and information are used as
has been defined by Alan Freedman in
his valuable reference work The Computer
Glossary. Information is “the summariza-
tion of data. Technically, data are raw
facts and figures that are processed into
information. . . . But since information
can also be raw data for the next job or
person, the two terms cannot be precisely


memory is random access memory (RAM). passes alphabetic and numeric characters
A program and the data generated during a (letters and numbers). Other cards can serve
work session are stored in RAM.These may as internal modems, and as covered later,
include a word processing program and a video editing components.
letter you are writing to a friend.The RAM Portable computers, described in the
workspace is also considered a temporary next section, similarly benefit from expan-
storage area. Once the computer is turned sion products. In most cases, they are fitted

off, the program and letter are cleared from with PCMCIA slots. Small credit card-sized
memory and cannot be recalled unless they cards, called PC cards, are inserted in the
were previously saved on a permanent stor- slots and can support data communications
age system. and other operations.
Contemporary PCs are generally fur-
nished with 512 or more megabytes (MBs)
of RAM.A computer must also be equipped Data Storage
with a specific quantity of RAM to run a Different systems can be used to store
given program, and many operations are your data once the computer is turned off.
enhanced if additional memory is available.4 Common examples include floppy, hard, and
removable disk drives, all of which are gov-
erned by magnetic principles.5
Floppy disks were once the primary soft-
Central Processing Unit
ware distribution vehicle. Programs stored
The central processing unit (CPU) is the
on one or more disks would subsequently be
computer’s brain. It also dictates the type of
installed on the PC. However, CD-ROMs
software the computer can run and affects
have largely superceded floppy disks in this
the computer’s overall data processing speed.
application. CD-ROMs and other optical
Additional performance factors include
media are discussed in Chapter 9.
the computer’s storage system, bus speed,
Hard drives are the most common and
and the use of graphics accelerators and
popular data storage system. Contemporary
other auxiliary systems. The former can
drives can store gigabytes of data and
speed-up the graphics creation process.
support fast storage and retrieval operations.
As covered in the multimedia and video
production chapters, specialized systems
Expansion Boards are used in video editing and other, data-
Some computers are designed with internal intensive tasks.
slots that can be fitted with expansion Inexpensive, removable magnetic storage
boards or cards.The cards support basic fun- systems were widely adopted in the latter
ctions, such as generating a monitor’s display, half of the 1990s. Although they had
or enhance the computer’s operation. They existed for years, newer and cost-effective
may be required or they may supplement models, which could even potentially
and complement built-in capabilities. handle demanding video applications, were
A video display or graphics card for an introduced.
IBM PC, for instance, dictates various tech- In operation, a removable system func-
nical parameters. These include the resolu- tions much like a floppy. Once a cartridge
tion of graphics and alphanumeric informa- is filled with data, it is replaced. But unlike
tion as well as the number of supported a floppy, removable cartridges are true mass
colors. Alphanumeric information encom- storage devices with fast, data access times.
Computer Technology Primer 35

Monitors focused on the magnetic field, and studies

A monitor is the computer’s display com- have been conducted to determine its effect
ponent, and different standards exist in the on the human body.
PC world. These include the VGA (640 ¥ Until this issue is finally resolved, it may
480 resolution) and Super VGA (800 ¥ 600 be wise to take some elementary precau-
+ resolution) standards. tions.You can buy a nonemission display, or
A key development in the PC market is as became the trend in the mid-1990s, a

the advancement of display technologies. monitor that conforms to strict emission
The average monitor’s size and correspond- standards.
ing viewing area is increasing. So too is the An example of the former is an LCD
resolution, that is, an on-screen image’s panel, formerly relegated to notebook com-
apparent sharpness. Contemporary graphics puters. In the early 2000s, LCD monitors for
cards and monitors are also easier on the desktop PC systems flooded the market.
eyes. They produce a higher resolution Their size increased as prices fell.
display with less flicker to help reduce While CRT monitors still have some
eyestrain. advantages as of this writing (e.g., lower
A graphics card may also speed up or cost), LCD units have become a popular
accelerate certain software operations. It is option. They weigh less and have a smaller
also equipped with its own memory, which footprint and larger viewing area than com-
has an impact of the number of colors parably sized conventional monitors.8
it may support and other performance
At this time, 24-bit systems are an indus- THE MICROCOMPUTER
try standard. The 24-bit figure refers to “a
display standard in which the red, green, and Prior to the PC era, the computer industry
blue dots that compose a pixel each carry was dominated by mainframe and mini-
8 bits of information, allowing each pixel computer systems. Both may still be used by
to represent one of 16.7 million colors.”7 organizations with multiple users and exten-
Basically, instead of working with a limited sive processing needs. But the PC is now a
palette or range of colors, 24-bit systems fixture in almost every market.
can gain access to millions of colors. (The The PC’s popularity can be partly traced
actual number of on-screen colors, how- to the introduction of the original, widely
ever, is lower than 16.7 million.) Visually, a available, IBM microcomputer in 1981.
picture is more vivid. When used with ap- People were already familiar with IBM pro-
propriate software, a landscape with clouds ducts, and the corporation’s entry in this
or other image may appear to be lifelike or field legitimized the PC in the eyes of the
photorealistic. business community.
A controversy also surrounded the use of Other factors that contributed to the
traditional CRT monitors, which produce industry’s growth over the years include
electromagnetic fields. Concerns were raised
that emissions could play a role in miscar- • the production of more advanced models;
riages, birth defects, and cancer. But the data • powerful software that filled specific
have been conflicting and inconclusive.The needs;9
frequencies that concern us are very low fre- • the PC’s low cost in comparison with
quency (VLF) and extremely low frequency other systems, which helped extend com-
(ELF) emissions. Much of the research has puter processing to a broader user base;and

• falling PC prices as PCs became more hardware tools we use. They range from
sophisticated.10 keyboards to graphics tablets to virtual reality
systems, in which we can actually become
The computer industry is one of the few part of a computer-generated world.
manufacturing areas where this type of price Software is the other level, the driving
versus performance ratio prevails—to our force behind human–computer interfaces.A
benefit. computer’s operating system provides the

basic link; other software families are dis-

cussed in later chapters.11
The most common interface is the key-
Portable Personal Computers
board. Alphanumeric and function keys are
Besides desktop PCs, manufacturers produce
used for control and software operations.
portable, battery-operated notebook com-
You can type a command, press two keys
puters. Contemporary models are equipped
to magnify an on-screen graphic, and type a
with high quality color displays, internal
letter with a word processing program.12
modems, network connections, enhanced
A second category supplements and
sound capabilities, and a CD-ROM or other
complements the keyboard. A mouse, for
optical drive. Another possible feature is a
example, is a small device that is interfaced
desktop docking station, which provides
with the computer and sits on a desk.As you
additional expansion capabilities.
move the mouse, a cursor on the monitor’s
In keeping with the downward or minia-
screen moves correspondingly. In one appli-
turization trend in the PC world, portable
cation, you use the mouse to select a com-
computers are becoming smaller and lighter
mand listed on a pull-down menu.You high-
as their processing power increases. These
light the specific command, click a mouse
systems have spawned even smaller comput-
button, and the command is carried out. A
ers, including handheld units of varying
mouse also functions as a drawing tool for
graphics software.
Although this miniaturization trend
A more effective device for this task is
will continue, there are, at least for the near
the graphics tablet, a drawing pad typically
future, size constraints.These may have more
interfaced with an electronic pen. You can
to do with the human-PC interface than
literally sketch a picture in freehand, among
with the capability to design ever smaller
other options. Some configurations provide
computers. In general, as keyboard and
very fine degrees of control when combined
screen sizes decrease, their effectiveness, at
with specific software.
least for the operator, may decrease in kind.
The touchpad, another interface, works
A partial solution may lie in adopting pen
much like a mouse. As implied by the
computing, speech recognition, and other,
name, a touchpad is a small, sensitive pad
more advanced interfaces.
(physical area).You can use your finger with
the touchpad to emulate mouse functions.
Another interface is the touch screen.
Human-Computer Interface Unlike a mouse or graphics tablet, you inter-
As stated, one consideration in using a act directly with the monitor. The touch
computer is the human-computer interface: screen enhances this process, eliminating the
how we communicate with and control the use of a manual tool. In a standard applica-
computer. On one level, interfaces are the tion, a menu with a list of commands appears
Computer Technology Primer 37

on the screen. You select the command by sages, and similar data.The latter, called Per-
touching the screen at the appropriate loca- sonal Digital Assistants (PDAs), became
tion. In a sample application, consider an popular in the early 2000s. While they lack
interactive computer program for a museum. the processing capabilities of larger com-
When you touch the museum’s rooms, puters, they can be fitted with small color
which are displayed on a monitor, the ex- screens, keyboards, and even still video
hibits at each location are listed. camera devices.

The touch screen can be an intuitive PDAs can also communicate with a
interface because you do not have to learn desktop computer for data exchanges, and
how to use it. Simply touch what you want, when properly configured, can be used for
and the hardware and software complete the e-mail and connecting to high-speed com-
task. munications networks without the use of a
Another human-computer interface uses cable (wireless networking). In some cases,
a pen metaphor, pen-based computing. In PDA functions, and even certain PDAs,
one configuration, you hold a computer have been combined with cellular tele-
much as you would hold a clipboard. But phones (cell phones).15 As such, the PDA
instead of writing on paper, you write on a became a comprehensive information and
flat-panel display with a pen. This inter- communications tool—you could use it to
face can simplify routine jobs. The express process information and for voice/data
mail/package industry, for one, uses elec- communication.
tronic forms and pen-based systems. As Another element of the human–com-
deliveries are made, people working in the puter interface touches on ergonomic de-
field can check off boxes on forms and fill sign, the philosophy of developing equip-
in other information. The data are then ment and systems around people, that is,
stored and can be transferred to a central making equipment conform to an operator’s
computer. needs, and not the other way around. Desks,
Future pen-based systems may also draw chairs, monitors, and keyboards are typical
on the idea of an electronic or eBook. It computer equipment influenced by ergo-
can be rapidly updated, annotated with your nomic design.
own notes, and integrated with graphics.13 Sound designs can help prevent some
Like a touch screen, this type of interface is of the problems associated with working
intuitive since we are using a familiar com- with computers. With carpal tunnel syn-
munication form, basically an electronic drome, your wrist can be damaged through
version of paper. repetitive keyboard motions. It can be alle-
Additionally, portable computers, includ- viated, or possibly even avoided, by ergo-
ing a new generation of tablet PCs, can nomically sound keyboard and desk designs.
recognize handwriting and special markings Adopting good work habits can also help.
used for editing.14 These devices marry Maintain a good sitting posture, and take a
computer technology with the convenience break every hour.
of using a pen and paper, but now, they’re in The latter can also reduce eye fatigue, as
an electronic form. can proper light placement and intensity. A
A system’s processing capabilities range high-resolution display/board combination,
from that of a traditional notebook com- which may also produce less flicker as a
puter to small, handheld units that are typi- result of a high screen refresh rate, can like-
cally used for storing addresses, short mes- wise help.

• Icons that represent files, directories, etc.;

• Dialog boxes, buttons, and other graphi-
cal widgets that let you tell the computer
what to do and how to do it.17

A windowing operation generates multi-


ple windows, one or more framed work-

spaces on the monitor’s screen.Windows can
be moved, resized, or removed.Windows can
enhance file copying and other procedures,
and you can switch between programs with
the click of a button. A program is run or
displayed in its own window.
An icon is a small picture, a pictorial
representation of, for example, a disk drive.
Instead of typing a command to display the
Figure 3.2 COMPUTER SOFTWARE drive’s files, you click on the icon. Instead of
typing a command to delete a file, you move
interfaces allow us to For organizational purposes, software can be the appropriate icon to another icon, typi-
explore new techniques, divided into two categories: general release
in this case, the potential cally a trash can.
programs, the focus of this section, and pro- Apple’s popularization of the GUI carried
to create an animated
grams geared for specific communications over to other PC platforms. Different prod-
figure based on an
individual’s movements.
applications. The latter include hypertext ucts have sported GUIs, including Microsoft
(Courtesy and multimedia authoring software. Corporation’s Windows family.18 In fact,
of Polhemus, Inc.) Apple was involved in a multiyear lawsuit
Operating Systems and Graphical User with Microsoft over an intellectual property
Interfaces issue. Apple contended that Microsoft bor-
The operating system (OS) is the most rowed the look and feel of its GUI when
important piece of computer software. It Microsoft developed Windows.
controls the computer as well as specific data
and file management functions.
MS-DOS, for example, emerged as a stan- Database and Spreadsheet Programs
dard in the PC market through the wide- A database program can organize a consul-
spread integration of IBM PCs.16 MS-DOS tant’s client list, the titles of a radio station’s
supported a text-based interface. Keywords carts, and other information. Song titles, for
were typed to carry out various functions. instance, can be filed under a singer’s name
A graphical user interface (GUI), in con- or even under the types of music a station
trast, uses a visual metaphor. Popularized by plays.
Apple and its Macintosh line, Apple helped Once stored, the information can be
establish what we now associate with a GUI: organized and manipulated. You can also
define and explore the associations between
• A pointing device, typically a mouse; information categories. For the radio
• On-screen menus; station, these associations can include the
• Windows that graphically display what sales staff, their clients, and appropriate sales
the computer is doing; figures.
Computer Technology Primer 39

A database may also accommodate graph-

ics. Visual and textual information can be
merged. In one application, a specification
sheet that highlights a house’s features may
be integrated with a picture of the site.
This configuration would enable a real
estate company to maintain a written and

pictorial database of houses on the market.
A spreadsheet program, in contrast, is
primarily a financial tool. Data are entered
via a table format, in columns and rows, and
are tabulated and manipulated through a
series of built-in mathematical and financial
With a spreadsheet, you can rapidly finish
jobs that would normally require hours to
complete, as may be the case when it is used
as a forecasting tool. As various figures on
the spreadsheet are changed to reflect higher Code for Information Interchange (ASCII, Figure 3.3
advertising rates, for example, all the perti- pronounced “AH-skee”). Once saved, the Microsoft Excel, a
nent figures are automatically recalculated. information can be retrieved by other com- spreadsheet program with
A spreadsheet may also support a graph- puters and programs. But underlined and enhanced graphing
ing capability. The data are portrayed as a italicized text, as well as other text/docu- capabilities. (Courtesy of
Microsoft Corporation;
line graph, pie chart, or other form.Viewing ment formatting information, is lost. A pro-
data in this fashion may make it easier to gram may, however, be able to import and
discover “hidden” relationships. The same use another program’s native files to retain
graph may also create a more powerful pre- the formatting.
sentation. You can now “see” the numbers
instead of just rows and columns on a page.
Web Browsers
If you are connecting to the Internet, you
Word Processing Programs explore and interact with this electronic
A word processing program is used to write information and communications universe
letters, news stories, and many other types with a web browser. As covered in the
of documents. Some programs are also Internet chapter, Chapter 17, browsers use a
equipped with a mail merge option, which visual metaphor, analogous to a GUI, to sim-
is used to merge a mailing or address list plify Internet navigational and operational
with a standard form letter. tasks. Prior to this time, a series of text com-
A program has other functions that mands were typed to carry out different
enhance the writing process. You can typi- functions.
cally move, copy, and delete blocks of text,
produce tables, and incorporate graphics,
spreadsheet files, and other data on a page. Programming Languages
Most word processing programs can Application programs are created through
optionally save data in an international stan- programming languages. A programming
dardized code called the American Standard language is considered a control language. It

provides the computer with a set of instruc- with an electronic rather than a traditional
tions to perform a series of operations. medium.
Common languages include Visual Basic, The paint program creates bitmapped
Pascal, COBOL, C++, Java, and Ada. Each graphics. Bitmapping is, in part, the com-
language has its own characteristics and is puter’s capability to manipulate the individ-
typically geared toward select applications. ual pixels that make up a graphic. It also
Java and COBOL have been widely used describes the method by which the graph-

with the Internet and business worlds, ics information is stored.As succinctly stated
respectively. Visual Basic is the first pro- by Gene Apperson and Rick Doherty,“The
gramming language many people learn, and bitmapped image is represented by a collec-
more esoteric languages, such as Lisp and tion of pixel values stored in some orderly
Prolog, have been the domain of the artifi- fashion. A fixed number of bits represents
cial intelligence community.19 each pixel value.The display hardware inter-
Ada, a language sponsored by the U.S. prets the bits to determine which color or
Department of Defense, is well suited for gray levels to produce on the screen.”22
complex systems.Ada is named after Augusta Thus, the values, which essentially are the
Ada Byron, considered to be the world’s first pixels’ colors, are coded, stored, and eventu-
programmer.20 ally retrieved and interpreted by the com-
puter to create the graphic.
A paint program offers a selection of
Graphics Programs brush shapes and sizes for freehand drawing.
Graphics programs are used to create a Additional tools can be used to create
company’s logo, a rendition of the space geometric shapes and for other functions.
shuttle, and other drawings. A graphic can You can also control the palette of colors.
also highlight next year’s car model and can The number of usable colors can vary from
chart the U.S. population growth. system to system, and you can alter a color
There are different types of graphics to fit your project. One common method is
programs and formats (e.g., TIFF and GIF), to select a color and to change its red, green,
some of which are introduced in this section. and blue values by moving R-G-B slider
Most programs can also import more than bars.
one format, and it is possible to share files
between IBM and Mac platforms.21 Image Editing Programs. An image
Another trend is the convergence be- editing program’s primary function is that of
tween program categories. A single pro- an image editor or electronic darkroom.This
gram may now support multiple functions. software family can be viewed as the word
Instead of using two or more of the pro- processor of images. Just as you can edit and
grams listed in this section, a single program move text, a picture can be rotated, rescaled,
may suffice. and manipulated prior to its printing on
paper and/or videotape.
Paint Programs. A paint program For example, you can use special filters to
addresses or manipulates the individual either sharpen or blur an image (or select
pixels on a screen.The pixels can be assigned parts). In one operation, you can throw a
specific colors and can be controlled to distracting background out of focus.
produce numerous effects. Applications in- Programs also feature color editing and cor-
clude manipulating video-based images rection tools, paint modules, and possibly a
and computer art, in which an artist paints hook to a scanner.
Computer Technology Primer 41

As is later described, a scanner can digi-

tize photographs and other still images,
which are subsequently fed to a computer.
With this software and hardware combina-
tion, a picture can be scanned and then
retouched or altered.

Drawing Programs. A drawing program
does not address individual pixels. It treats a
graphic as a series of individual geometric
shapes or objects that can be manipulated
and moved to other screen locations. Graph-
ics are vector based, and picture information
is expressed and stored mathematically, not
as bitmaps.23
Drawing programs are typically used for
creating ads and illustrations.They also have
powerful text handling tools:Words can have
a three-dimensional appearance and can building and would help the designers to Figure 3.4
better evaluate its physical characteristics. An image editing
follow designated nonlinear paths.
A program may also have an animation program can support
Like paint software, drawing programs special effects.The two
have their own advantages and application feature. It may likewise be possible to tie
into another program to reveal the area(s) of pictures on the right
areas in which they excel. For example, have been manipulated
when a graphic produced by a drawing a designed part that may be subject to stress.
by the software.
program is enlarged or reduced, the lines Finally, a car part or other information (Software courtesy of
will remain sharp and well defined.24 could be fed to a series of computer- Image-In, Inc.; Image-In
controlled tools. At this point, an engineer’s Color.)
Computer-Aided Design Programs. A vision, a drawing on a computer monitor’s
computer-aided design (CAD) program is screen, is transformed into the actual
similar to a drawing program in that it physical part by the tool. This function is
manipulates geometric shapes. But it has an element of computer-aided manufactur-
enhancements that make it a powerful archi- ing (CAM), an area closely allied to CAD
tectural and industrial design tool. systems. In many instances, CAD and CAM
There are two-dimensional (2-D) and are linked in a CAD/CAM system.
three-dimensional (3-D) CAD programs.
The latter can be used to create a 3-D Animation and 3-Dimensional Programs.
view of a building. The image can then be An animation can be described as a series
rotated to show the building from different of images that, when viewed in sequence,
perspectives. convey motion. We are all familiar with
Initially, 3-D views were generally limited Saturday morning cartoons, such as Bugs
to wireframe drawings, images composed Bunny and the X-Men. With computers,
only of lines, with no solid appearance. we can now tap animation techniques to
Computer advances broke through these produce our own projects.
restrictions, and we can add physical surfaces Contemporary programs have also sim-
and solid attributes. In 3-D, the building in plified this process. Some allow you to create
our example would look more like a “real” predefined paths that a figure will follow.

You select the number of frames, determine Lifelike animations and still images can
the starting point, and set up the path or be created through ray tracing, a rendering
direction(s) of the movement. The program technique that “literally traces the paths of
will then draw the individual frames, out of thousands of individual rays of light through
the specified total, as the object progresses a three-dimensional scene via compu-
down the path. tation.”26 Ray tracing can produce very
A program may also support other func- realistic images with accurate shadows and

tions.You may be able to speed up or slow reflections.

down the animation at specific points for The only penalty associated with ray
smoother transitions and enhanced realism. tracing is time. It may take hours to produce
Or you may be able to define two distinct or render the final scene, depending on the
shapes and have the software draw the inter- PC’s capability. But you can initially create
mediate frames so one changes into the the scene in a faster mode. When finished,
other (morphing). the scene can be reviewed, changes can be
Animations can also be created in 3-D, made, and the final sequence can then be
adding realistic depth. A picture can also be produced and saved.
wrapped around a 3-D object, and wood A program may also save an animation as
Figure 3.5 and other textures can be applied. a series of individual frames (files). In one
Presentation programs Programs may accommodate 24-bit im- operation, they can then be imported by a
can be used to produce ages, and you typically have control over nonlinear editing system, discussed in a later
PC-based slide shows. A
light sources and camera parameters. Light chapter, where they are processed and used
program may also
support an Internet
sources are individual lights that illuminate as an animation.
export feature—you can a scene. The number of lights can vary, as
also distribute/play the can their color, intensity, and type.25 The Presentation Programs. Presentation pro-
presentation via the camera parameters affect what we see on the grams can generate computer-based charts,
Internet. (Courtesy of monitor. A view could be changed from graphs, and electronic slides. Templates are
Microsoft Corporation; wide angle through telephoto and, in an available to format the data or you can create
PowerPoint.) animation, the camera itself could move. your own designs. Interactive links may also
be supported. When you activate an on-
screen button, an action is triggered. This
action may include playing a digitized audio
and video clip.
If you have a series of on-screen graph-
ics, you can control the length of time
each image is displayed as well as transitional
effects.27 You can also incorporate audio and
video clips and can typically export the
presentation for replay on the Internet—the
project is converted by the software for this
environment. In this case, the same presen-
tation can be used across multiple distribu-
tion venues.

Visualization Programs. Scientific visual-

ization is the “ability to simulate or model
3-D images of natural phenomena on high
Computer Technology Primer 43

performance graphics computers.”28 Data Finally, this use of computers has raised
are graphically represented, and this visual questions. Does a computer dehumanize or
representation can provide insights into how actually enhance the creative process? Can tra-
our world and the universe function. ditional and computerized methods coexist?
Instead of looking at pages of numbers, a
scientist can view the data graphically. For

example, while designing a new space plane,
airflow and thermal characteristics could NETWORKS
be observed.29 Essentially, the visual image
makes it easier to interpret the data because A computer system may have components
you actually see, in a sense, the data brought other than those described thus far. These
to life. The invisible is made visible. include the printer and a network that links
two or more computers in a communica-
Implications. To wrap up this discussion tions system.
about graphics programs, it is appropriate to
talk about creativity and computer systems.
Certain advantages accrue when using com- Printers
puter-based technologies. In the graphics A printer produces a paper or hardcopy
area, a PC with the appropriate software can of information. Three types of printers
help you transform an idea or vision into a have dominated the general business and
reality, an actual product. It is the marriage consumer markets, and there’s a fourth cat-
between the conceptual and the concrete. egory of important, yet less widely adopted,
The same system can help you reach this machines.
goal even if you are not a graphic artist.You The first major category, the laser printer,
may have an idea for a poster but may can produce near-typeset quality documents
not be adept at creating the 3-D letters and graphics. A small laser is the heart of
your project demands. A computer with the a printer’s engine, the actual printing device.
appropriate software could help. In this case, Other elements include a photoconductor
the PC is functioning as a tool.You provide drum, toner particles, which make up
the guiding thought, and the PC helps to the image much like the toner particles of a
implement your idea. copy machine, and the paper.
But it is also important, regardless of your The laser printer helped trigger a pub-
artistic ability, to at least have a basic grasp lishing revolution. When combined with a
of underlying aesthetic principles relative to PC and desktop publishing program,
the job at hand. Otherwise, an ad’s message, individuals and organizations had access to
or other product, could be lost in a maze of enhanced publishing tools. Even though the
words and graphics. In another example, you final copy did not equal a commercial pub-
can use a PC-based system to create a video lication, it was superior to the typical PC
production. But unless you understand printer’s output.
lighting, camera, and audio techniques, the The second major category, the ink-jet
final product may lack integrity. printer, uses a reservoir of ink for printing.
A PC may be helpful, but it does not Its output can almost match a laser printer
circumvent knowledge and aesthetics. A in certain areas, and ink-jet printers are cost
PC could extend your creative vision, but effective and can support color.
you still have to supply the imagination and The dot-matrix printer, the third cate-
skills. gory, was a favorite choice during the earlier

years of personal computing. It produces if the central computer “goes down.” In a

alphanumerics and graphics through a LAN, each PC has its own processing capa-
matrix of closely spaced dots. They are still bility and may be able to operate indepen-
used, even though they have generally been dently if the network is rendered inoperable
supplanted by laser and ink-jet models. by equipment failure. This advantage, when
The fourth category of printers is the weighed with cost-effective PCs/network
plotter. A plotter uses a series of pens to components and other factors, have made

create large-scale architectural and technical the LAN the networking tool of choice. A
prints, as well as other line drawings. The wide area network (WAN) extends these
output can range from plans for a sailboat to capabilities over greater geographical dis-
a new piece of machinery. tances and can tie LANs together through
Color printers have also become popular. different communications channels.31
Most software programs can handle color
output, and cost-effective inkjet and laser Operation. A LAN’s topology, its physical
printers have been marketed to meet a layout, actually dictates how the system is
growing demand. Printers are further dis- tied together.The topology has usually been
cussed in the desktop publishing chapter, based on a star, ring, or a bus design, and
Chapter 10. the information flow typically takes place
over twisted-pair, coaxial, or fiber-optic
Twisted-pair cable has the lowest infor-
Local Area Networks mation capacity, while coaxial cable is a
In brief, a local area network (LAN) is an shielded and superior relay line.32 Fiber-
information and communications system optic cable is a newer contender, and one of
that can tie together a group of offices or its major strengths is a large channel capac-
other defined physical area (e.g., a building ity. As described in a later chapter, wireless
or group of buildings). It can link PCs so LANs have also been created.
they can be used to share equipment and As the data are relayed through a network
exchange information. Printers, data storage to the various PCs, the nodes, the data must
drives, and other devices are included on the be routed to the correct destinations. In this
network, and program and data files can be respect, a LAN can be considered a super-
tapped by the network’s users. highway overseen by a traffic cop. Because
A LAN’s design and implementation is multiple PCs are interconnected, the data
analogous, in certain respects, to a multiuser relays and requests must be organized to
system, in which a central computer is facilitate the information flow.
typically connected to terminals. A terminal Finally, an important element in this
simply serves as a keyboard and a monitor, configuration is the server. The server is a
an interface device in this environment, computer that helps manage and control
since the central computer performs the this flow. It also stores program and data files.
processing tasks.30 In a typical operation, you connect to the
A LAN, like a multiuser configuration, network by logging on, which may include
makes it possible to share system resources. using a password.At this point, you can gain
The LAN has an advantage, though. In access to the server’s programs. Depending
the typical multiuser environment, the on the setup, you use either the server or
whole system may come to a crashing halt your PC to store the data files. When
Computer Technology Primer 45

finished, you disconnect from the network

by logging off.33


Computer technology will exert an even

greater influence on the communi-
cations field—and inevitably society—as
more sophisticated computers are purchased
by an expanding user base. Prices will con-
tinue to fall as technology continues to
advance. This combination of factors will
eventually contribute to the remaking of the
computer world, especially at the PC level.
The refinement of technology has also
progressed at a dizzying pace. The pro-
cessing, graphics capabilities, and software Figure 3.6
sophistication of the new generation of com- virus may also remain dormant until trig- An example of a house
puters represent a substantial design leap gered. In 1992, the well-publicized Miche- created with a 3-D
over earlier models. Eventually, the charac- langelo virus was triggered on Miche- CAD program. Please
teristics that separate the different computer langelo’s birth date. Computers have inter- note the support for
classifications may blur—it may be difficult nal clocks that keep track of the time and multiple views.
to distinguish one computer family from date. When the right date rolled around, if (Courtesy of American
another. At this time, the PC matches the your system was infected, the virus could Small Business
capabilities of computers, including the work- have become active.34 Computers; DesignCad
stations pioneered by Apollo Computers For the latter, certain parts of the United 3D.)
and Sun Microsystems, that were once the States, particularly California, have suffered
domain of engineering and design firms. from power outages. Besides inconvenienc-
However, as our computing capabilities ing people, they have a direct impact on a
are enhanced, so too are elements that could region’s capability to support a growing
adversely affect these capabilities. Two ex- computer-based society with its voracious
amples are viruses and the overall industrial energy consumption appetite. In response,
infrastructure. For the former, the number of some companies established their own
computer viruses has been rising. A com- power systems, among other measures.
puter virus is a program that attaches itself, Other potential risks range from the
in a sense, to other programs. A virus may international disruption of computers sys-
simply display a harmless message or, worse, tems, as exemplified by the Y2K scenario, to
cause valuable data to be lost. the numerous legal issues and entanglements
Viruses can be spread by various means, born of computer systems and their appli-
including infected disks inadvertently cations. These subjects are explored in later
shipped by commercial manufacturers. A chapters.


1. As defined by Anthony Ralston and 13. Laurie Flynn, “Is Pen Computing for
Edwin D. Reilly, Jr., eds., Encyclopedia of Com- Real?” InfoWorld 13 (November 11, 1991), 75.
puter Science and Engineering (New York: Van Note: Think about your own handwriting.You
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1983), 969, a might even have trouble, at a later date, recog-

microprocessor is a “computer central process- nizing what you wrote on a note.

ing unit (CPU) built as a single tiny semicon- 14. Tablet PCs are suitable for various appli-
ductor chip. . . . It contains the arithmetic and cations, including those in the medical field.
control logic circuitry necessary to perform the Please see “Tablet PCs Could Boost Tablet
operations of a computer program.” Micro- Use in Health Care,” by Joseph Goedert, for
processors have been built into audio and video more information. Downloaded from www.
equipment for different functions.
2. This is due to their popularity. Other CurrentIssueStory.cfm?PostID= 13782.
computer systems are also discussed when 15. Cell phones and wireless networking are
appropriate. These include mainframe and covered in Chapter 8.
minicomputers. 16. MS-DOS is Microsoft’s DOS product
3. Alan Freedman, The Computer Glossary for IBM PCs. It should also be noted that a PC
(New York: AMACOM, 1991), 301. may be able to support multitasking and other
4. There are also different types of RAM advanced functions. Multitasking enables a
with different characteristics (e.g., speed). computer to run more than one program simul-
5. Another system, which employs optical taneously. Other operating systems have
technology, is described in a later chapter. included UNIX.
6. Special cards are also used for specialized 17. Frank Hayes and Nick Baran, “A Guide
applications (e.g., video editing). to GUIs,” Byte 14 (July 1989), 250.
7. “Glossary,” Publish 6 (October 1991): 124. 18. Other GUIs have included IBM’s
8. The footprint refers to the space a Presentation Manager.
monitor may occupy on, for example, a desk; 19. Pascal is another language that many
a 17-inch conventional monitor may only earlier PC programmers initially learned.While
have a useable 16-inch (or less) viewing area still used, it is not as popular as other languages
in contrast to a 17-inch LCD monitor. (as of this writing).
Design/manufacturing factors play into this 20. Betty A. Toole, “Ada, Enchantress of
situation. Numbers,” Defense Science and Electronics (Spring
9. These include a spreadsheet program as 1991), 32. Note: This issue has a number of
described in a later section. articles about the Ada programming language
10. For example, an ad in a December 1982 and can be used to look at its roots.
issue of Byte listed an Atari 800 computer, 21. There may, however, be some limitations.
equipped with 16K of RAM, for $689.95, 22. Gene Apperson and Rick Doherty,“Dis-
excluding its $469.95 disk drive or other major playing Images,” in CD-ROM Optical Publishing,
components. In the early 2000s, even local com- Vol. 2 (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1986),
puter stores were selling IBM PC compatibles, 134.
with 512 MB of memory, hard and CD-ROM 23. Corel Systems Corporation, Technical
drives, and a color monitor, for well under Reference (Ottawa, Ont: Corel Systems Cor-
$1000. poration, 1990), 18.
11. This includes VR as described later in 24. At times, it may be advantageous to
Chapter 14. convert a bitmapped image into a vector-based
12. A keyboard—the way it feels and one. There is also some cross-compatibility
works—is also a personal matter. between software in that a drawing program
Computer Technology Primer 47

may, for instance, support bitmapped graphics. frame is equipped with enhanced processing
25. The type may include spot and flood and memory systems physically built into a
lights. central console, the “main” frame. A minicom-
26. Impulse, Inc., Turbo Silver 3.0 User puter can be considered a scaled-down version
Manual, 1988, 17. of a mainframe. It can also support a multiuser
27. The transitions between slides can range environment, as can suitably equipped PCs,
from dissolves to wipes. albeit to a lesser degree than a mainframe.

28. Phil Neray, “Visualizing the World and 31. Please see the High Tech Dictionary for
Beyond,” Photonics Spectra 25 (March 1991), 93. more information (//
29. Jim Martin, “Supercomputing:Visualiza- resources/dictionary). This is an excellent re-
tion and the Integration of Graphics,” Defense source for identifying computer terms.
Science (August 1989), 32. 32. Because it is shielded, it is less suscepti-
30. Multiuser systems are run by a powerful ble to outside interference.
PC, or more typically, a mainframe or a mini- 33. Log on and log off are two commands.
computer. A mainframe can be categorized 34. “Information Sheet on the Michelan-
as a physically large, powerful, and expensive gelo Virus,” compiled by J. M. Allen Creations/
computer that can accommodate numerous Michael A. Hotz, February 17, 1992.
users through a multiuser environment.A main-


Byte on CD-ROM. Compilations of Byte McGowan. “When Faced with the Office
articles on CD-ROMs. Wiring Decision, ‘Let the Buyer Beware.’ ”
Garcia, Emmanuel.“Desktop Visualization Tools Communication News (February 1991), 59–61;
for Designers.” CADENCE (October 2000), Jim Quraishi. “The Technology of Connec-
18–29; Mark Hodges. “Visualization Spoken tivity.” Computer Shopper 11 (May 1991),
Here.” Computer Graphics World 21(April 187–198; Winn L. Rosch. “Net Gain.” Com-
1998), 55–62; Diana Phillips Mahoney. puter Shopper 12 (April 1992), 534, 536–544.
“Launching a Construction Simulation.” Overviews of LAN technology.
Computer Graphics World 21 (August 1998), Glassner, Andrew S. “Ray Tracing for Realism.”
60–62; NASA. “New Technologies Drive Byte 15 (December 1990), 263–271. A
Changes in Auto Design and Production.” detailed examination of ray-tracing.
NASA Tech Briefs (April 2001), 18–24; Hodges, Mark. “It Just Feels.” Computer Graph-
Richard Spohrer. “Making CAD Models ics World 21 (October 1998), 48–56; Jeffrey R.
Shine.” Computer Graphics World 21 (January Young. “Computer Devices Impart a Real
1998), 51–56; J. R. Wilson. “Virtual Proto- Feel for the Work.” The Chronicle of Higher
typing Is Revolutionizing Aircraft System Education XLV (February 26, 1999), A23–
Design.” Military & Aerospace Electronics 11 A24. Interesting looks at human–computer
(February 2000), 1, 26. Different computer interfaces.
graphic techniques, including CAD, and their Mahoney, Diana Phillips. “The Picture of
applications. The NASA article also covers Uncertainty.” Computer Graphics World 22
complementary technologies and their role (November 1999), 44–50. Visualization and
in the automotive industry. some applications.
Gilster, Ron, and Diane McMichael Gilster. Pournelle, Jerry. “User’s column.” Byte. A
Build Your Own Home Network. NY: McGraw- column in the now discontinued Byte
Hill, 2000; John Kincaid and Patrick magazine. Jerry Pournelle is a well-known

science fiction writer and computer expert. illustrated history of computer graphics and
His column covered a range of topics for applications.
the computer user. As Pournelle might have Webster, Ed, and Ron Jones.“Computer-Aided
said, this column was and still is “highly Design in Facilities and System Integration.”
recommended.” SMPTE Journal 98 (May 1989), 378–384.
Rivlin, Robert. The Algorithmic Image. Red- The use of CAD software in the television
mond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1986. A richly industry.


Disk Drive: A data storage device. Monitor: A computer’s display component.

Electronic Mail (e-mail): Electronic messages or Multiuser System: A computer that can accom-
mail that can be relayed all distances (for modate multiple users, typically through
example, over a LAN or around the world). terminals. The computer provides central
Graphical User Interface (GUI): A visual, rather processing and data storage capabilities.
than text-based, interface. Personal Computer (PC): A computer typically
Graphics Programs: The generic classification designed to serve one user.
for computer graphics software. These range Photorealistic: A video display card/monitor that
from paint to CAD software, and they excel can produce realistic or lifelike images.
at certain applications. Paint programs, for Printer: A device that produces a hardcopy of
example, are used to create/manipulate the computer’s information.
bitmapped images. CAD programs are geared Programming Language: A computer language
for architectural/technical drawings. used to create a computer program, the
Human-Computer Interface: The tools we use instructions that drive a computer to com-
to work with computers. They range from plete various tasks. Typical languages include
keyboards to touch screens. C, Pascal, and Fortran.
Local Area Network (LAN): A dedicated data Random Access Memory (RAM): A computer’s
communications network. It can link com- working memory.
puters, printers, and other peripherals for Server: A computer that manages and controls
exchanging/sharing information, programs, the flow of information through a network.
and other resources. It also stores program and data files.
4 Computer Technology:
Legal Issues, Y2K, and
Artificial Intelligence

The previous chapter introduced us to com- used to steal it, in this case, software.2 The
puter technology. This chapter focuses on situation is also exacerbated by the PC’s
related topics. These include legal issues, a Figure 4.1
ubiquitous presence at work and home.
A screen shot of an
potential millennium nightmare, and artifi- Legislation can be enacted against piracy expert system.The
cial intelligence. The latter has implications to protect intellectual property, but how do window on the left
that cut across technical and philosophical you enforce it? A few major “pirates” might shows the code.The
fields. be caught, but what of the thousands of window on the right
individuals who may copy software either shows one element of
for sale or, more typically, for personal use? this expert system in
LEGAL ISSUES In response, some companies have ad- action: a question and
opted software or hardware-based protec- list of possible answers.
Software Piracy tion schemes. An example of the latter is (KnowledgePro screen
A challenge facing the computer industry bundling a dongle with a program. A dongle shot by permission of
is software piracy, the illegal copying and Knowledge Garden,
is a small hardware component that plugs
distribution of software. It is an eco- Inc.; KnowledgePro for
nomic issue—potential revenues are lost or
stolen—and a matter of intellectual property
rights.A panel convened to examine this sit-
uation suggested that the U.S. government
should increase its “antipiracy efforts” and
“strengthen the enforcement of intellectual
property rights abroad and in the United
States.”1 The last sentence is a key one
because pirating is not limited to other
countries. Although there have been crack-
downs, led by software industry organiza-
tions, piracy is still rampant in the United
Piracy presents a difficult and complex
situation that points out a dilemma of the
information age. The same tools that can
create an information commodity can be


into a PC’s USB or other data port. As de- affect the communications industry. These
signed, the software will not work without include the illegal copying and distribution
it. Other protection schemes also exist. of movies and CDs and, as covered in
Legal issues have also been somewhat Chapter 6, pirating of pay television services.
exacerbated by the language of licensing
agreements, particularly when dealing with
multiple computers in the workplace or a

school. Depending on the situation, you L Is for Lawsuit

sometimes require legal advice to determine The computer industry has also been a
what you can and cannot do. Even individ- fertile ground for lawsuits. The software
ual users may be faced with a dilemma. For arena has been especially hotly contested,
example, if you own a desktop and a note- and the focus has been on patent and copy-
book PC, can you buy and use a single copy right protections and violations.
of a program on both computers? When In general, “a copyright provides long
upgrading an OS, can you use one copy for term conditional ownership rights in a spe-
both PCs or do you have to buy two? Have cific expression of an underlying concept,
you sat down and actually read an agree- without protecting the concept itself. A
ment before using a package? patent provides relatively short term . . .
Years ago, Borland International, a major conditional ownership rights in an underly-
software house, had adopted a clear cut licen- ing concept (the patent’s ‘invention’) with-
sing agreement for its products. It treated a out reference to the particular concept’s
program like a book. Multiple people could embodiment.”5
use it, but like a book, only by one person, on A highly publicized lawsuit was the
one PC, at a time.3 dispute between Apple Computer and the
To sum up, software piracy is a major Microsoft Corporation for copyright viola-
problem, especially in an information age, tions.6 Apple contended that Microsoft’s
and manufacturers have taken steps to Windows borrowed heavily from Apple’s
combat it. However, more can be done. As GUI in regard to the interface’s “look and
indicated by the panel mentioned earlier, the feel.”7
U.S. government can increase its efforts in The issue came to a head in 1992.At that
this area.4 time, most of Apple’s claims were thrown
Education is one way. Intellectual prop- out by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker
erty may not be viewed as a gold watch, in a series of rulings. This included Apple’s
money, or other real property. A common claim that Windows was “substantially
perception is that you should not steal similar to the look and feel of the Macin-
money, but it is all right to copy a disk. tosh user interface.”8 If the ruling had gone
Part of this problem is philosophical.While the other way,Apple could have had a ham-
the legal system may safeguard intellectual merlock on GUI rights and, possibly, future
property, the philosophical element may developments.
lack focus.We have to recognize and accept With respect to patents, a 1981 Supreme
the philosophical basis behind the idea of Court decision, Diamond v. Diehr, opened
ownership before we follow the legal guide- the software patent floodgate. A patent can
lines. Otherwise, the only preventive mea- provide broader and wider protection than
sures are legal, and if they cannot be fully a copyright and, as such, is a valuable legal
enforced, the situation will continue. and financial commodity.
Finally, note that other types of pirating Since that time, companies have filed
Computer Technology: Legal Issues, Y2K, and Artificial Intelligence 51

more patent applications, the U.S. patent bomb—the Y2K bug. Early computer pro-
office has been overburdened, and the hard- grammers worked with hardware and
ware end of the computer industry experi- storage space limitations. To conserve re-
enced its own share of lawsuits. The patent sources, programmers used a shorthand
process is also laborious and expensive, method of designating dates. Instead of
which may shut out individuals and small writing 1981, or any other such date, only
businesses from this form of protection. the last two digits—81—were used. But

A pessimist might say this escalation of what would happen in the year 2000? A
patent applications and potential litigation computer could read the double zero (00)
has a negative impact. If, for instance, the as 1900, thus potentially disrupting com-
developers of the first electronic spreadsheet puter-based operations. In an information
had pursued and been granted a patent, they society, the results could be catastrophic.
could have blocked the development of rival Concerns ranged from air traffic control
software products.9 This action could have failures to massive power outages to banks
hampered the industry’s growth. losing financial data.The problem was exac-
An optimist might contend that legal pro- erbated by embedded technology—hard-
tection can promote an industry’s growth. ware components in elevators, telecom-
There’s a financial incentive for developers munications equipment, and other systems
to continue their work, license agreements that also relied on dates for operation. From
can be made with other companies, and new a systems perspective, other key factors
products can be introduced, to the industry’s included
benefit.10 It is, after all, a balancing act be-
tween protecting intellectual property while 1. An enormous volume of date-sensitive
ensuring that a dynamic industry continues transactions help drive our information
to grow. society. What would happen if they were
Finally, copyright issues cut across the disrupted?
entire information and communications 2. Programmers worked to solve and fore-
arena.The topic will be discussed at greater stall potential problems. This included
length in a later chapter. Suggested Read- searching through computer programs
ings for this topic will also be included in and replacing old Y2K-sensitive code
that chapter. with new code. Programmers in older
languages (e.g., COBOL) also became in
demand for this operation.
3. Estimates to fix the global problem
Y2K ranged from 1 to 2 trillion dollars.12
4. Organizations had to identify and replace
For want of a nail the shoe is lost,
affected components (for embedded te-
For want of a shoe the horse is lost,
For want of a horse the rider is lost,
chnology). Banks, power companies, and
For want of the rider the battle is lost, other organizations also ran tests to eval-
For want of the battle the war is lost, uate potential problems and implemented
For want of the war the nation is lost, Y2K corrections.
All for the want of a horseshoe nail. 5. It was believed that some countries were
—George Herbert11 not Y2K ready.
6. Legal issues surfaced. The Securities and
As the millennium approached, the global Exchange Commission, for one, issued a
community was faced with a potential time statement about public companies and

their obligation to disclose potential pro- cascading implications. Much like the nail in
blems.13 Due to Y2K, the new millen- the poem that opened this section.
nium promised to be a financial boon for
7. The Y2K problem could be likened to a ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
row of dominos. Even if your company
was Y2K ready, what would happen if This section of the chapter examines artifi-

a key supplier was not? It is also like an cial intelligence (AI), another computer area
EMP—companies and countries were relevant to our discussion of information
threatened by electronic paralysis. and communications technologies.
8. People responded to the possible disrup- The AI field is dedicated, in part, to devel-
tions of services in different ways. Some oping computer-based systems that seem-
individuals ignored the matter and ingly duplicates the most important of
believed the problem would be solved. human traits, the ability to think or reason.
Still others took a middle-of-the-road ap- This section serves as a brief introduction to
proach. They believed there would only the field and related topics.15 More detailed
be minor disruptions. A third group, information can be found in the Suggested
though, looked back to the Cold War era Readings section.
and began to stockpile food, water, and
other essential supplies.They believed ser-
vices would be cut off, and unprepared Natural Language Processing
national and global economies would be Natural language processing can simplify the
shattered. communication between humans and com-
puters. For example, you may not have to
The reality of the situation? The year learn specific command sequences because
2000 dawned with only minor disruptions. the computer is able to “understand”you.For
The smooth transition surprised a lot of a database program, a query for information
people. As they watched New Year’s parties can be phrased in an ordinary sentence.16
televised from around the world, they partly
expected to see the lights go out in differ-
ent countries at the stroke of midnight. It Speech Recognition
did not happen. Speech recognition, a subset of natural lan-
This led to some charges that the poten- guage processing, allows a computer to rec-
tial problems were actually exaggerated.The ognize human speech or words.You verbally
media were also blamed for “hyping” the instruct the computer to perform an oper-
situation. It made good news. This was ation instead of inputting the instructions
countered by others who believed the with a keyboard. The system will initially
investment in time and money actually paid digitize your voice, and then it must recog-
off. In some cases, it led to the moderniza- nize various words before the instructions
tion and enhancement of computer opera- are carried out.
tions, thus paying long-term dividends for To complete the circle, the computer
this investment.14 could answer you. At the PC level, a speech
Regardless of the viewpoint, it is inter- synthesis card can be used with special soft-
esting to note that all this chaos was caused ware, enabling a blind PC user to, for
by the placement of two numbers—seem- example, type on a keyboard, and have the
ingly insignificant—but with monumental, words subsequently vocalized.17
Computer Technology: Legal Issues, Y2K, and Artificial Intelligence 53

This capability can be linked with an Expert systems are valuable information
optical character recognition (OCR) tools having other applications and can
system, as examined in the desktop publish-
ing chapter, Chapter 10. An OCR configu- • help fill an information gap,
ration can recognize text from printed • support a field where there may be too
documents. The information can subsequ- few human experts, and
ently be reproduced in computer-generated • preserve, in a sense, the knowledge and

speech, making the material available to experience that would otherwise be lost
visually impaired individuals.18 when a human expert dies.
When this operation is viewed with the
entire spectrum of speech research, it is an Yet despite their advantages, expert systems
important achievement. Even at this devel- are not infallible. Their capabilities are
opmental stage, our productivity is boosted, limited by the quality of the information,
the human-computer interface becomes the rules that govern the system, and by
increasingly transparent, and working with other criteria.21 There’s also the problem of
computers turns into a natural process. working with a machine.A human expert is
These tools can also help individuals to typically better equipped to ask the right
communicate their thoughts and ideas in a questions to define a client’s situation.
manner that would have been impossible to Therefore, the human expert may arrive at
achieve a few short years ago. a superior solution.
Another potential trouble area has been
litigation. If a medical expert system made
Expert Systems a mistake, who would be liable? This ques-
An expert system is a computer-based tion, the high cost for liability insurance,
advisor. It is a computer program that can and other factors, have held up product
help in the medical, manufacturing, and releases.22 Other fields could be similarly
other fields. affected, and in an article devoted to this
The heart of an expert system is knowl- topic, two pages outlined potential risk areas
edge derived from human experts and for expert system developers and designers.23
includes “rules of thumb,” or the experts’ Finally, expert systems have been joined
real-world experiences. Additional informa- by a related field, neural networks. In brief,
tion sources could encompass books and “neural network technology, which attempts
other documents. to simulate electronically the way the brain
This expertise can then be retrieved processes information through its network
during a consultation. The computer leads of interconnecting neurons, is used to solve
you by posing different questions. Based on tasks that have stymied traditional comput-
your answers, in conjunction with a series ing approaches.”24 A network can, for ex-
of internal rules, essentially the stored ample, be trained: It learns by example. A
knowledge, the computer “reaches” a deci- neural network can also work with incom-
sion.19 In one application, the Foundation plete data, much like humans, but unlike tra-
Bergonie, a French research center, devel- ditional computer systems.25
oped a system that would “help doctors in Neural networks have been trained to
general hospitals in the management of adjust a telescope to improve its perfor-
breast cancer patients.”20 The expert system mance, to handicap horse races, to make
provided doctors with a level of advice that stock market predictions, and to recognize
would not normally have been available. a face, even if the expression changes.26 In

Figure 4.2
Demeter. Demonstrates
the “automation of
terrestrial agricultural
operations through the
application of space
robotics technology.”

(Courtesy of
Telerobotics Program.)

keeping with the communications industry, tified, it could be removed from the assem-
research has also been conducted to tap a bly line.28
neural network as part of a sophisticated tool Various technologies have also been har-
for measuring television audiences’ viewing nessed to develop autonomous robotic ve-
habits. hicles. An autonomous vehicle would also
process visual information, and in opera-
tion, could function without direct human
Computer Vision intervention.
Computer vision can be described as the An example of an ambitious project is an
field in which a picture, produced by a autonomous rover for space exploration.
camera, is digitized and analyzed by a com- Equipped with a robotic vision system, the
puter. In this setup, the camera and com- vehicle would be activated on its arrival to
puter serve as machine equivalents of the explore Mars or some other planetary body’s
human eye and brain, respectively. surface.The vision system would provide the
During this operation, objects in a scene onboard computer with information about
can be identified through template match- the surrounding terrain. Based on an analy-
ing and other procedures.27 In template sis and interpretation of the information, the
matching, stored representations are com- computer could identify and avoid a poten-
pared to the objects in the image.The com- tially dangerous obstacle (e.g., a crater) with-
puter identifies the various objects when the out waiting for human intervention.29
templates match. This vehicle would be born from the
In one application, circuit boards can be union of hardware components and a sop-
examined for defects. If such a board is iden- histicated AI program that could process
Computer Technology: Legal Issues, Y2K, and Artificial Intelligence 55

information. The integration of computer

software and hardware may also serve as a
model for vehicles built for use on Earth.
These include experimental vehicles that
already exist and those that may be placed
in production.30

Philosophical Implications
I. A robot may not injure a human being, or through
inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
II. A robot must obey the orders given it by human
beings, except where such orders would conflict with
exploration of the planets, just as expert Figure 4.3
systems did not replace doctors. A screen shot from the
the first law.
2. Instead of diminishing our humanity, AI ExperTest(R) general
III. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as
systems may enhance our lives. Cancer purpose tester.The
such protection does not conflict with the first or
patients have benefited, and speech recog- ExperTest has been used
second law.
as a test development
—Isaac Asimov, The Robots of Dawn31 nition and synthesis systems can provide
bed for PC
individuals with better control over their motherboards, among
The development and integration of AI
environments. other applications. By
systems in society has philosophical impli-
3. The last concern was partly addressed by tapping artificial
cations. Some AI opponents believe, for
Isaac Asimov in his “Three Laws of Ro- intelligence technology,
example, that the new generation of intelli-
botics” quoted earlier.The laws cut across the system can deliver an
gent machines will eliminate millions of
scientific and science fiction boundaries enhanced diagnostic
jobs. There is also the fear that AI systems, capability, much like a
and could help guide us as we start imple-
including robots, diminish us as humans. human expert.
menting advanced AI products.
Other AI-based systems have also raised the (Courtesy of Array
specter of machines wreaking havoc, as pre- To wrap up this discussion, it’s also impor- Analysis.)
sented in The Terminator, Creation of the tant to remember that while the arguments
Humanoids, Colossus: The Forbin Project, and presented by both camps may have some
other movies. Although these concerns may merit, we are ultimately responsible for AI
be legitimate, AI proponents have offered systems and their impact in our lives. If used
counterarguments: correctly, AI and other technologies may
continue to enhance the human exploration
1. The tools of the AI field are just that, of our own world, of other worlds, and, just
tools.An autonomous vehicle will not, for as important, the exploration of the human
example, necessarily replace the human condition.


1. Gary M. Hoffman, Curbing International 3. Borland International, Turbo Prolog Refer-

Piracy of Intellectual Property (Washington, DC: ence Guide (Scotts Valley, CA: Borland Interna-
The Annenberg Washington Program, 1989), 7. tional, 1988), C2.
Note: The panel was not solely concerned with 4. See Hoffman,pp.19–24 of Curbing Interna-
software issues. tional Piracy of Intellectual Property, for a detailed
2. Ibid., 10. discussion of the panel’s recommendations.

5. Steve Gibson, “U.S. Patent Office’s Soft- Please see Richard S. Schwerdtfeger, “Making
ening Opens Floodgates for Lawsuits,” InfoWorld the GUI Talk,” Byte 16 (December 1991), 118,
14 (August 17, 1992), 36. for more information.
6. Thanks to A. Jason Mirabito, a patent 18. Joseph J. Lazzaro, “Opening Doors for
attorney, for his suggestions for this section. the Disabled,” Byte 15 (August 1990), 258. Note:
7. Beth Freedman, “Look-and-Feel Lawsuit The article also provides an excellent overview
Expected to Go to Trial,” PC Week 9 (February of PC-based systems for the blind, deaf, and

24, 1992), 168. Note: The case also involved the motor disabled.
Hewlett-Packard Company and its NewWave 19. The representation of knowledge by
product. rules is only one expert system development
8. Jane Morrissey, “Ruling Dashes Apple’s tool. An expert system can also be created with
Interface Hopes,” PC Week 9 (August 17, 1992), a conventional programming language. A rule
117. can take the form of:
9. Brian Kahin, “Software Patents: Franchis-
IF the car doesn’t start AND
ing the Information Infrastructure,” Change 21
the lights do not turn on
(May/June 1989), 24.This is a sidebar in Steven
THEN the battery needs charging.
W. Gilbert and Peter Lyman,“Intellectual Prop-
erty in the Information Age,” Change 21 This example is very simplistic, and in a
(May/June 1989), 23–28. real-world situation, multiple rules would be
10. “Patents: Protecting Intellectual Prop- employed.
erty,” OE Reports 95 (November 1991), 1. Note: 20. Texas Instruments, “French Expert
This interview with a patent lawyer provides a System Aids in Cancer Treatment,” Personal
good overview of patent law and what can and Consultant Series Applications, product infor-
cannot be patented. mation release.
11. Taken from For Want of a Nail by Robert 21. This includes novel situations where a
Sobel,(London:Greenhill Books,1997),foreword. human expert, in contrast, may be able to adapt
12. Barnaby J. Feder and Andrew Pollack, to the new condition.
“Computers and 2000: Race for Security,” 22. Edward Warner,“Expert Systems and the
New York Times CXlVIII (December 27, 1998), Law,” High Technology Business (October 1988),
22. 32.
13. Jeff Jinnett,“Legal Issues Concerning the 23. G. Steven Tuthill, “Legal Liabilities and
Year 2000 Computer Problem: An Awareness Expert Systems,” AI Expert 6 (March 1991),
Article of the Private Sector,” (Internet; down- 46–47.
loaded March 16, 1999). 24. Michael G. Buffa, “Neural Network
14. Mel Duvall,“Y2K Payoff: Systems Poised Technology Comes to Imaging,” Advanced
for New Projects.” Inter@active Week 7 (January Imaging 3 (November 1988), 47.
10, 2000), 8. 25. Gary Entsminger, “Neural-Networking
15. For an introduction to AI’s important Creativity,” AI Expert 6 (May 1991), 19.
elements, see Barry A. McConnell and Nancy J. 26. Maureen Caudill, Neural Networks Primer
McConnell, “A Starter’s Guide to Artificial (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Publications,
Intelligence,” Collegiate Microcomputer 6 (August 1989), 4. See also Andrew Stevenson, “Book-
1988), 243; and John Gilmore,“Artificial Intelli- shelf,” PC AI 7 (March/April 1993), 30, 38, 57,
gence in the Modern World,” OE Reports (May 58, for an in-depth review of In Our Own Image,
1987): 4A. by Maureen Caudill (Oxford: Oxford Univer-
16. The Q&A program used such an inter- sity Press, 1992), a book relevant to this overall
face. It also had the capability to add words to discussion.
its vocabulary. 27. Louis E. Frenzel, Jr., Crash Course in Arti-
17. A program may even be compatible with ficial Intelligence and Expert Systems (Indianapo-
a GUI. For example, icons can be described. lis, IN: Howard W. Sams & Co., 1987), 201.
Computer Technology: Legal Issues, Y2K, and Artificial Intelligence 57

28. Ibid., 205. As Wilson states as an example,“AI for years has

29. A neural network could be very appro- been trying to look at what is a cup—does it
priate in this type of situation, especially since have a handle . . . What makes a cup? It holds
it could be trained to avoid numerous obstacles liquid, but that is hard to tell by just looking at
and deal with novel situations. it. That’s a problem with AI that hasn’t been
30. As described in “Machine Vision,” by solved yet.” p. 16.
J.R. Wilson, Military & Aerospace Electronics 12 31. Isaac Asimov, The Robots of Dawn (New

(August 2001), 14–18, however, one problem is York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1983),
determining what the machine might be seeing. back cover.


Benfer, Robert A., and Louanna Furbee. Rights.” Change 21 (May/June 1989), 13–21.
“Knowledge Acquisition in the Peruvian Earlier looks about intellectual property.
Andes.” AI Expert 6 (November 1991), Curran, Lawrence J. “Vision-Guided Robots
22–27; Jonathan K. Gable. “An Overview of Assemble Wheels Parts.” Vision Systems Design
the Legal Liabilities Facing Manufacturers of 7 (September 2002), 17–21. A vision system
Medical Information Systems.” Quinnipiac application.
Health Law Journal 127, downloaded from Frenzel, Louis E., Jr. Crash Course in Artificial
LEXIS; Fiona Harvey. “A Key Role in Intelligence and Expert Systems. Indianapolis,
Detecting Fraud Patterns: Neural Networks.” IN: Howard W. Sams & Co., 1987. A guide
The Financial Times Limited, January 23, 2002, to AI technology and applications.
downloaded from Nexis; Colin R. Johnson. Godwin, Mike. Cyber Rights. New York: Times
“Neural-Network Expert-System Technolo- Books, 1998. Comprehensive coverage of
gies Tapped to Build Smart-Vision Engine— free speech issues, including intellectual prop-
AI Techniques Automate PC-Board In- erty issues in an electronic age. Also see
spection.” Electronic Engineering Times, down- Kenneth C. Creech, Electronic Media Law and
loaded from Nexis; Jessica Keyes. “AI in the Regulation. Boston: Focal Press, 2000, for
Big Six.” AI Expert 5 (May 1990), 37–42; additional information about copyright/
Dan Shafer. “Ask the Expert.” PC AI 3 communications issues.
(November/December 1989), 40, 49; J.C. The January 10, 2000, issue of Inter@active Week
Smith. “The Charles Green Lecture: carried a series of Y2K articles and various
Machine Intelligence and Legal Reasoning.” implications. Two include: Doug Brown,
Chicago-Kent Law Review 73 (1998), “Y2K Overseas: What Went Right,” 9 and
downloaded from LEXIS. Early to more Charles Babcock, “Spending on Y2K: Waste
recent looks at expert systems and neural of Time or Prudent Investment,” 8–9.
networks. Kavoussi, Dr. Louis R. “NY Doctors Use
Blackwell, Mike, and Susan Verrecchia. “Mobile Robotics in Baltimore Surgery.” Communica-
Robot.” Advanced Imaging 2 (November tions Industries Report 15 (October 1998), 23.
1987), A18–A21; Maureen Caudill. “Driving An example of using robotics in telemedi-
Solo.” AI Expert 6 (September 1991), 26–30. cine; i.e., from a distance.
A look at autonomous vehicles. Markowitz, Judith. “Talking to Machines.” Byte
Cleveland, Harlan. “How Can ‘Intellectual 20 (December 1995), 97–104; Jeffrey Rowe.
Property’ Be Protected.” Change 21 (May/ “Look Who’s Talking.” Computer Graphics
June 1989), 10–11; Francis Drummer Fisher. World. 24 (February 2001), 42–45. Speech
“The Electronic Lumberyard and Builders’ recognition technology.

NASA. “Remote Agent Experiment,” down- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.
loaded from NASA web site; John Rhea. are valuable information resources
“Report from Washington and Elsewhere.” about copyrights and patents and how to file
Military & Aerospace Electronics 9 (October for each.
1998), 8, 19. AI and space applications.
United States Government. The Library of
Congress ( and the


Artificial Intelligence (AI): The field dedicated, in Natural Language Processing: Natural language
part, to developing machines that can seem- processing focuses on simplifying the human-
ingly think. computer interface. Rather than using special
Computer Vision: The field that duplicates keywords to initiate computer functions, you
human vision through a computer and a use conventional word sequences.
video camera system. Optical Character Recognition (OCR): After a
Copyright and Patent: A copyright provides pro- document is scanned, an OCR system can
tection in the expression of a concept. A recognize the text.
patent protects the underlying concept. Software Piracy: The illegal copying and distri-
Expert Systems and Neural Networks: An expert bution of software.
system manipulates knowledge and can serve Speech Recognition: A subset of natural language
as an in-house expert in a specific field. processing, it allows a computer to recognize
It combines “book information” with the human speech or words.
knowledge and experience of human ex- Y2K: A potential, adverse computer problem
perts. A neural network, for its part, simulates caused by using shorthand notation to repre-
the way the brain processes information sent a year (e.g., 98 for 1998) in computer pro-
through its network of interconnecting gramming. Massive financial and personnel
neurons. time investments helped rectify the situation.
5 The Magic Light:
Fiber-Optic Systems

The concept of harnessing light as a modern Both LEDs and LDs are used in different
communications tool stretches back to the communications configurations. An LED is
late nineteenth century. Alexander Graham less expensive and has generally supported
Bell, the inventor of the telephone, patented lower volume, short-distance relays. An LD,
an invention in 1880 that used light to trans- like an LED, is a semiconductor, but in the
mit sound.1 Bell’s invention, the photo- form of a laser on a chip. It is a small, pow-
phone, employed sunlight and a special erful, and rugged semiconductor laser that is
light-sensitive device in the receiver to relay well suited for high volume and medium-
and subsequently reproduce a human voice. to long-distance relays. The LD family has
It wasn’t until the twentieth century, also served optical storage systems.
though, that the idea for such a tool could
be transformed into a practical communi-
cations system. Two developments helped The Fiber-Optic Transmission
bring about this advance: the perfection of In an FO transmission, a beam of light, an
the laser and the manufacturing of hair-thin optical signal, serves as the information-
glass lines called fiber-optic (FO) lines. When carrying vehicle. Both analog and digital
combined, they helped create a lightwave information are supported.
communications system, a system in which In operation, the light is launched or fed
modulated beams of light are used to carry into the fiber. The fiber itself is composed
or transmit information. of two layers, the cladding and the core. Due
to their different physical properties, light
can travel down the fiber by a process called
total internal reflection. In essence, the
OVERVIEW light travels through the fiber via a series
of reflections that take place where the
Light-Emitting Diodes and cladding and core meet, the cladding-core
Laser Diodes interface.When the light reaches the end of
FO technology has contributed to the the line, it is picked up by a light-sensitive
development of high-capacity communica- receiver, and after a series of steps, the orig-
tions lines.A transmission is conducted with inal signal is reproduced.
optical energy, beams of light, produced by To sum up, a video camera’s output or
a transmitter equipped with either a light- other such signal is converted into an optical
emitting diode (LED) or a laser diode (LD). signal in an FO system. It is subsequently
The light is then confined to and carried by transmitted down the line and converted
a highly pure glass fiber. back following its reception.


Figure 5.1
How a fiber-optic
system works.The
electrical signal is
converted into an optical
signal, and back,
following the relay.
(Courtesy of Corning

Finally, the fiber, which may be made out radiate. A signal cannot be picked up by
of plastic in short-distance runs, is covered instruments unless the line is physically
by a protective layer or jacket. This layer compromised.3
insulates the fiber from sharp objects and 4. Information can be relayed a great dis-
other hazards, and it can range from a light tance without repeaters. A new genera-
protective coating to an armored surface tion of LDs and complementary fiber, as
designed for military applications.The now- well as sensitive receivers, have made it
protected fiber is called an FO cable, and it possible to relay signals great distances
consists of one or more fiber strands within without repeaters. In practical terms, if
the single cable enclosure. fewer repeaters are used, building and
maintenance costs are reduced.
Advantages. An FO line has distinct 5. An FO line is a valuable asset where space
advantages as a communications channel: is at a premium, such as a building’s duct
space for carrying cable. Because fiber is
1. In comparison with some other commu- comparatively narrow, it can usually fit in
nications systems, light—the informa- a space that may preclude the use of con-
tion-carrying vehicle in an FO sys- ventional cable.
tem—can accommodate an enormous
volume of information.Transmissions are Disadvantages. Some factors do, however,
in the gigabit-plus range (billions of bits limit an FO line’s effectiveness. Like other
per second), and a single 0.75-inch fiber communications systems, there may be a loss
cable can replace 20 conventional 3.5- of signal strength, which in this case, may be
inch coaxial cables.2 caused by physical and material properties
2. Fiber-optic lines are immune to electro- and impurities.4 In another example, disper-
magnetic and radio interference. Because sion can affect the volume of information
light is used to convey the information, a line can accommodate in a given time
adjacent communications lines cannot period, that is, its channel capacity.
adversely affect the transmission. An FO The latter can be addressed by using
line can also be installed in a potentially single-mode rather than multimode fiber.
explosive environment where gas fumes The single-mode fiber is constructed with a
may build up over time. very narrow core, and the light essentially
3. An FO line offers a higher degree of data travels straight down the fiber in a single
security than conventional systems. It is path, thus preventing the smearing of pulses
more difficult to tap, and FO lines do not that comprise the optical signal.5 A single-
The Magic Light: Fiber-Optic Systems 63

mode fiber can also accommodate a high greater distance from a remote van than a
information rate and has been the backbone conventional configuration.6
of the telephone industry and other high- Fiber’s information capacity also makes it
capacity long-distance systems. an ideal candidate for an all-digital televi-
Fiber is also harder to splice than con- sion studio. The digitization of broadcast-
ventional lines, and the fiber ends must be quality signals can generate millions of bits
accurately mated to ensure a clean transmis- per second, and an FO system could handle
sion. But special connectors, among other this information volume. The line would
devices and techniques, have facilitated this also fit in a studio’s duct space, which is

process. usually crammed with other cables, and its
Another element is the current state of freedom from electromagnetic and radio
the communications industry. Despite the frequency interference would be valuable
inroads made by FO technology, the overall assets in this environment.
system is still dominated, in certain settings, Besides these roles, FO systems have been
by a copper standard.This includes the local used to create efficient and high-capacity
telephone industry. local area networks (LANs). Businesses, hos-
FO components can also be more expen- pitals, schools, and other organizations are
sive. An FO cable hookup, for example, may also designing and implementing their own
be more expensive than a conventional one. FO lines that can accommodate computer
The actual FO line may likewise cost more data as well as voice and video.
in specific applications, even though this The telephone and cable industries also
price differential has diminished. have a vital interest in this technology. Long-
Thus, FO technology is somewhat anal- distance carriers have developed extensive
ogous to digital technology. It has been FO networks, and eventually, fiber may be
integrated in the current communications extended to all our homes. Cable compa-
structure. nies, for their part, are converting their sys-
The prices for LDs and other compo- tems to fiber or, as covered in Chapter 15,
nents are also dropping, and the growing fiber/copper hybrid systems.
information torrent our communications Fiber can also provide us with high-speed
systems must handle may mandate the use data highways. As we generate not only
of such high-capacity channels.They may be more information, but more complex infor-
joined by fiber/coaxial hybrid systems. Note mation with each passing year, the commu-
also that by using compression techniques, nications infrastructure may be hard pressed
the traditional copper plant is still very to handle this data flow. But FO technology
much alive and well. will continue to play a key role in solving
this problem. It can also support an array of
new television and information options.

An FO line is an attractive medium for the Underwater Lines

video production industry. Its lightweight Beyond landline configurations, AT&T
design and transmission characteristics can headed an international consortium that
make it a valuable in-field production tool. developed the first transatlantic undersea FO
Several hundred feet of line, for instance, link between the United States and Europe.
may weigh only several pounds, and a The system,TAT-8, is more than 3000 nauti-
camera/FO combination can be used at a cal miles in length and was the first trans-

oceanic FO cable. TAT-8 was designed to Although it could be encrypted for protec-
handle a mix of information.When inaugu- tion, the encryption scheme could be
rated, it had an estimated lifetime in excess of broken.
20 years.7 Even though fiber had already Fiber is also well suited for intracity relays
been used in long-distance land and short- and point-to-point communication (e.g.,
distance undersea operations,TAT-8 was the New York to Washington, DC). It has been
first of a new class of cables. Its installation used for television network news, by the
was preceded by extensive deep-water telephone industry, and in teleconferencing
experiments and trials conducted in the applications. Various processing techniques

early 1980s to demonstrate the project’s fea- have also enhanced an FO system’s relay.
sibility. Once completed, the findings con- A satellite, for its part, can support a flex-
firmed the designers’ expectations: The FO ible point-to-multipoint operation that can
cable and repeater relayed the information readily accommodate additional receiving
within acceptable error rates and transmis- sites. This may not be the case with an FO
sion losses. This held true even when the system where a special line may have to be
system was subjected to the ocean’s cold laid to reach the new location.
temperature, tremendous water pressure, and Thus, FO lines and satellites actually sup-
other extreme environmental conditions. plement and complement each other on
Like other new applications, though, FO national and international levels. They also
lines have had some problems. Certain have their own particular strengths, and both
TAT-8 users, for instance, experienced some will continue to support our communica-
outages from cable damage caused by fishing tions needs.
trawlers.8 But despite some problems, the
technology proved its value. In fact, a series
of planned and existing FO systems may Other Applications
span the globe, ringing it with a band of Fiber-optic technology has also been
light. adopted for other applications. In the
medical field, an FO line can be used in
certain types of laser surgery. The fiber can
Fiber-Optic Lines and Satellites act as a vehicle to transport the intense beam
At first glance, undersea cables and long- of light to the operating site. In a related
distance landlines may appear to be obsolete application, fibers serve as a visual inspection
in light of satellite communication. Yet an tool in the form of a fiberscope.This device
FO system has a wide channel capacity, an “consists of two bundles of optical fibers.
extended lifetime, and can be cost effective One, the illuminating bundle, carries light
for long-distance applications. to the tissues, and the other, the imaging
An FO line also has certain other advan- bundle, transmits the image to the ob-
tages. A satellite transmission may be sus- server.”10 Doctors have used such devices to
ceptible to atmospheric conditions, and a peer inside the human body.
slight time delay is inherent in satellite Scientists have also experimented with
traffic.9 An FO link is not subject to these and have used FO sensors to monitor the
constraints. physical condition of different structures. In
Fiber may also be a more secure conduit one application, fibers have been embedded
for sensitive material. A satellite’s broad in composite materials, which can be used
transmission area makes it possible for unau- to create items ranging from airplane parts
thorized individuals to receive its signal. to, potentially, a space station. Through
The Magic Light: Fiber-Optic Systems 65

testing, it would be possible to determine if

a structure was subject to damage and undue
Although the fiber may not be relaying
computer data, it is still providing observers
with information. As discussed in the book’s
opening, this is one of the key features of
the communication revolution. Information
will take new forms and shapes, and in this

setting, the data about a structure’s physical
condition does,in fact,convey an intelligence.
All the applications described thus far
only touch on FO technology’s different
roles. It has even been tapped by the aero-
space industry to supplement and to poten-
tially replace fly-by-wire systems with fly-
by-light configurations. In this set-up, con-
ventional, heavier wiring would be replaced
by fiber for command-and-control opera-
tions. The fiber would save weight, and the
freedom from electromagnetic interference
would lend itself to this environment.12 The
automobile industry has also explored this


Fiber-optic lines have had an impact on our

communications system. On one front, they
have already supported sophisticated national
and international telephone connections.
On another, they promise to change the way
we view television and, potentially, the way Figure 5.2
we receive and use information. information capacity systems. Project A medical application of
The growth of FO lines can also be Oxygen, for instance, called for the design fiber-optic technology.
viewed as an evolutionary rather than a rev- of a transoceanic global system that would (Courtesy of KMI
olutionary development. For example, the “have a maximum throughput of 2.56 ter- Corp., Newport, RI.)
infrastructure is modernized as FO lines and abits (2560 gigabits) per second on [its]
components are integrated, but the current undersea cable segments.”13 Besides this
system is not immediately abandoned. This high capacity capability, the system would
follows the pattern of digital and other tech- support a sophisticated network design that
nologies and applications. would provide users with enhanced con-
Current FO systems will also be comple- nection options. On land, a pan-European
mented and supplemented by newer, higher project in 17 countries was designed to

Figure 5.3
Using fiber-optic
technology, surgeons can
examine, in this case, a
torn meniscus (knee) for
repair. (Courtesy of Dr.
J. Henzes.)

“reach more than 70 cities with 8 million moving mirrors [which] are used to deflect
km of . . . optical fiber—enough to circle beams of light” to different fibers. Mounted
the globe 200 times.”14 on an integrated circuit, an individual mir-
Fiber-optic capabilities will also improve. ror may be “smaller than the diameter of a
One driving force is the marriage between human hair.”17 In essence, optical network-
optical and electronic components (opto- ing can lead to the creation of faster net-
electronics) and the use of light alone. In one works with increased capacity.18
example, optical amplifiers can improve an In a related application, light may also be
FO system’s performance. The signal could used to develop newer, faster computers.
remain in the optical domain for longer dis- Analogous to an optical network, optical
tances, thus reducing the number of regen- computing will make it possible to produce
erative repeaters.15 computers with an enhanced processing
A similar development is taking place in capability.
the switching field, where an optical con- In sum, these developments are excit-
figuration would be advantageous.16 In one ing—and we have only just begun to tap
application, data traffic may be managed by light’s potential as a communications tool.
microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Its role in our information society cannot
One such system could consist of “tiny and should not be underestimated.
The Magic Light: Fiber-Optic Systems 67


1. Richard S. Shuford, “An Introduction to A fiberscope may also be incorporated in an

Fiber Optics,” Byte 9 (December 1984), 121. endoscope, which provides physicians with
2. Arthur Parsons, “Why Light Pulses Are remote access to the body regions under obser-
Replacing Electrical Pulses in Creating Higher- vation. The article presents an excellent over-
Speed Transmission Systems,” Communications view of this field.
News (August 1987), 25. 11. Richard Mack, “Fiber Sensors Provide
3. “Optical Fiber Technology: Providing Key for Monitoring Stresses in Composite

Solutions to Military Requirements,” Guidelines Materials,” Laser Focus/Electro-Optics 23 (May
(1991), 6. 1987), 122.
4. The latter factor, though, has been greatly 12. Luis Figueroa, C.S. Hong, Glen E. Miller,
reduced. et al., “Photonics Technology for Aerospace
5. Ronald Ohlhaber and David Watson, Applications,” Photonics Spectra 25 (July 1991),
“Fiber Optic Technology and Applications,” 117.
Electronic Imaging 2 (August 1983), 29. 13. “Frequently Asked Questions About
6. Richard Cerny, “Fiber Optic Systems Project OXYGENTM,” downloaded from
Improve Broadcast ENG/EFP Results,” Com- Project Oxygen’s web site.
munications News (April 1983), 60. 14. Robert Pease, “Largest Pan-European
7. R.E. Wagner, S.M. Abbott, R.F. Gleason, Network Project to Light Later This Year,”
et al., “Lightwave Undersea Cable System,” Lightwave (May 2000), 1.
reprint of a paper presented at the IEEE Inter- 15. Robert G. Winch, Telecommunication
national Conference on Communications, June Transmission Systems (New York: McGraw-Hill,
13–17, 1982, Philadelphia, PA, 7D.6.5. 1998), 456.
8. Barton Crockett, “Problems Plaguing 16. Paul R. Prucnal and Philippe A. Perrier,
Undersea Fiber Links Raise Concern Among “Self-Routing Photonic Switching with Opti-
Users,” Network World 20 (August 21, 1989), 5. cally Processed Control,” Optical Engineering 29
9. As described in Chapter 6, a communica- (March 1990), 181.
tions satellite is typically placed in an orbit some 17. Robert Pease, “Microscopic Mirrors
22,000 miles above the earth.The round-trip to May Manage Future Optical Networks,” Light-
and from the satellite results in the slight time wave 16 (May 1999), 1.
delay. 18. Jeff Hecht, “An Introduction to Optical
10. Abraham Katzir,“Optical Fibers in Med- Networking,” Laser Focus World 37 (January
icine,” Scientific American (May 1989), 120. Note: 2001), 115.


Belanger, Alain. “Broadband Video Goes Main- Branst, Lee. “Optical Switches Are Coming—
stream.” Lightwave 15 (November 1998), But When.” Lightwave 15 (July 1998), 63–64,
49–52, 56; Richard Cerny. “Using Fiber in 68; Jones-Bey Hassaun. “Ecological Meta-
the Field.” Broadcast Engineering 38 (January phors Color Future MEMS Perspectives.”
1996), 52–60, 64. Coverage of fiber-based Laser Focus World 37 (January 2001), 122–230;
video applications; the first article also exam- Jeff Hecht.“An Introduction to Optical Net-
ines fiber systems in other countries; the working.” Laser Focus World 37 (January
second article also covers video/field pro- 2001), 115–120; Jeff Hecht.“Optical Regen-
duction applications. eration Will Be Key for 40 Gbit/s Success.”

Laser Focus World 38 (April 2002), 75–78; John ruary 1999), 124–126. Interesting looks at
Rhea.“Optical Switching: the Military Passes lasers, underwater imaging (for example,
on Photonics but Industry Grabs the MEMS active imaging and imaging classes), and laser
Ball.” Military & Aerospace Electronics 11 (Feb- safety issues.
ruary 2000), 19–22. Optical switching and Frisch,Tony. “Submarine Fiber Networks Have
optical regeneration developments. the World on a String,” Photonics Spectra 34
Chinnock, Chris. “Miniature Fiber Endoscopes (November 2000), 96–104; Robert Pease.
Offer a Clear View Inside the Body.” Laser “Project Oxygen Poised for Construction
Focus World 31 (August 1995), 91–94; Under New Strategy.” Lightwave 15 (July

Abraham Katzir. “Optical Fibers in Medical 1998), 1, 28, 31.An excellent overview of FO
Applications.” Laser Focus/Electro Optics 22 undersea cables and their unique underwater
(May 1986), 94–110. Fiber-optic technology environment.
and medical applications. Gaughan, Richard. “Future Computing.” Pho-
Corning Incorporated. Opto-Electronics Group. tonic Spectra 35 (October 2001), 118–122;
Just the Facts. Corning, NY: Corning, Inc., Lauren P. Silvernail. “Optical Computing:
1992;ThomasV.Higgins.“Light Speeds Com- Does Its Promise Justify the Present Hype?”
munications.” Laser Focus World 31 (August Photonics Spectra 24 (September 1990),
1995), 67–74; Geoff Snell. “An Introduction 127–129. A look at optical computing.
to Fiber Optics and Broadcasting.” SMPTE Heath Company. Heathkit Educational Systems-
Journal 105 (January 1996), 4–7. Excellent Fiber Optics. Benton Harbor, MI: Heath
overviews of FO technology and applications. Company, 1986. A hands-on introduction to
Drollette, Dan. “Photonics Defies the Depths.” fiber optic technology and systems.
Photonics Spectra 34 (November 2000), 80–94; Moore, Emery L., and Ramon P. De Paula.
Larry R. Marshall. “Blue-Green Lasers “Inertial Sensing.” Advanced Imaging 2
Plumb the Mysteries of the Deep.” Laser (November 1987), A48–A50; “Fiber Optics
Focus World 29 (April 1993), 185–197; Bryan for Astronomy.” Sky and Telescope (December
A.Tozer.“Telecommunications Systems Min- 1989), 569–570. Two nonmainstream fiber-
imize Laser Risks.” Photonics Spectra 33 (Feb- optic applications.


Fiber-Optic Line (FO): A hair-thin glass fiber light source, LDs have supported high-speed
that can handle information ranging from and long-distance relays.
voice to video. An FO line has a wide Light Emitting Diode (LED): Another FO
channel capacity and a superior transmission system’s light source. LEDs have generally
capability. supported short- and medium-haul relays.
Laser Diode (LD): One of the more versatile Single-Mode Fiber: An efficient and high-speed,
communications tools. As an FO system’s high-capacity FO line.
6 Satellites: Operations
and Applications

Satellite communication has become a part process.As the satellite received a signal from
of everyday life.We make international tele- a ground or Earth station, a communications
phone calls as easily as local calls down the complex that transmitted and/or received
block. We also see elections in England, satellite signals, it relayed its own signal to
tennis matches in France, and other inter- Earth. Telstar also paved the way for today’s
national events with the same regularity as communications spacecraft because it cre-
domestic affairs. ated the world’s first international satellite
This capability to exchange information television link.
is made possible by satellites. For those of us
who grew up before the space age, satellite-
based communication is the culmination SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY
of a dream. It stretches back to an era when
the term satellite was merely an idea con- Satellite Fundamentals
ceived by a few inspired individuals. These
pioneers included authors such as Arthur C. Geostationary Orbits. Telstar, Echo, and
Clarke, who in 1945 fostered the idea of a other earlier satellites were placed in low
worldwide satellite system. This idea has Earth orbits. In this position, a satellite trav-
subsequently blossomed into a sophisticated eled at such a great rate of speed that it was
satellite network that spans the globe. visible to a ground station for only a limited
The first generation of satellites was fairly time each day. The satellite appeared from
primitive compared to contemporary space- below the horizon, raced across the sky,
craft, and they embodied active and passive and then disappeared below the opposite
designs. A passive satellite, such as Echo I horizon. Because the ground station was cut
launched in 1960, was not equipped with a off from the now invisible satellite, another
two-way transmission system. Echo was a station had to be activated to maintain the
large aluminized-Mylar balloon that func- communications link; otherwise, it would
tioned as a reflector. After the satellite was have been necessary to use a series of satel-
placed in a low Earth orbit, signals relayed lites to create a continuous satellite-based
to Echo reflected or bounced off its surface relay.The latter would have entailed the de-
and returned to Earth. velopment of a complex Earth- and space-
In contrast with the Echo series, the based network.
Telstar I active communications satellite, This problem was solved in 1963 and
launched in 1962, carried receiving and 1964 through the launching of the Syncom
transmitting equipment. It was an active satellites. Rather than racing across the sky,
participant in the reception-transmission the spacecraft appeared to be stationary or


tion with ground stations in its coverage

area.The orbital slot also simplifies this link:
Once a station’s antenna is aligned, it may
only have to be repositioned to a significant
degree when contact is established with a
different satellite. Prior to this time, a ground
station’s antenna had to physically track a
satellite as it moved across the sky.
Based on these principles, three satellites

placed in equidistant positions around the

Earth can create a worldwide communica-
tions system. This concept was the basis of
Arthur Clarke’s original vision of a globe-
spanning communications network.
Finally, note that while geostationary slots
are important, low and medium Earth orbits
are still used. As will be discussed, these may
range from remote sensing to specialized
communications satellites.

Uplinks and Downlinks. According to the

FCC, an uplink is the “transmission power
that carries a signal . . . from its Earth station
source up to a satellite”; a downlink . . .
“includes the satellite itself, the receiving
Earth station, and the signal transmitted
downward between the two.1 To simplify
our discussion, the uplink refers to the trans-
mission from the Earth station to the satel-
lite, and the downlink is the transmission
Figure 6.1 from the satellite to the Earth station. This
Satellites play a major
fixed.Today’s communications satellites have two-way information stream is made possi-
role in the
generally followed suit and are placed in ble by special equipment. The station relays
revolution.This artist geostationary orbital positions or slots. Simply the signal via an antenna or dish and a trans-
illustration depicts a stated, a satellite in a geostationary orbital mitter that produces a high-frequency mi-
satellite that delivers position appears to be fixed over one crowave signal.
television programs portion of the Earth. At an altitude of The communications satellite, for its part,
directly to viewers, as 22,300 miles above the equator, a satellite operates as a repeater in the sky.After a signal
described in this chapter. travels at the same speed at which the Earth is received, the satellite relays a signal back
(Courtesy of Hughes rotates, and its motion is synchronized with to Earth.This is analogous to an Earth-based
Space and the Earth’s rotation. Even though the satel- or terrestrial repeater, but now it is located
Communications lite is moving at an enormous rate of speed, more than 22,000 miles above the Earth.
Company.) it is stationary in the sky relative to an The satellite
observer on the Earth.
The primary value of a satellite in this 1. receives a signal,
orbit is its ability to maintain communica- 2. the signal is amplified,
Satellites: Operations and Applications 71

3. the satellite changes the signal’s frequency

to avoid interference between the uplink
and downlink, and
4. the signal is relayed to Earth where it is
received by one or more Earth stations.

To create this link, the satellite uses trans-

ponders, equipment that conduct the two-
way relays.A communications satellite carries

multiple transponders.
As illustrated by the Intelsat family, the
number of transponders per satellite class
has increased over the years. For example,
the original Intelsat satellite, Early Bird, was
equipped with 2 transponders that sup-
ported either a single television channel or
240 voice (telephone) circuits. The later
Intelsat IV satellites, launched in the early to
mid-1970s, carried 12 transponders that
generally accommodated 4000 voice circuits
and two television channels.
The newer Intelsat VIII spacecraft are
equipped with 44 transponders. Intelsat VIII
can accommodate, on the average, “22,500
two-way telephone circuits and three Figure 6.2
Example of a satellite
television channels.”2 Using digital technol- Parts of a Satellite
transmission’s coverage
ogy, a satellite could potentially handle over area (global). (Courtesy
100,000 simultaneous two-way telephone Satellite Antennas. An important factor of Intelsat.)
circuits. that influences the satellite communications
Intelsat VIII is also a hybrid satellite. It network is a satellite’s antenna design. A
supports both the C- and Ku-bands. As satellite’s transmission is focused and falls on
will be covered, C- and Ku-band satellites a specific region of the Earth.This reception
employ the C- and Ku-band communi- area, the footprint, can vary depending on
cations frequencies, respectively. Conse- the satellite and its projected applications.
quently, while some satellites employ only The footprints can range from global to spot
one band, other satellites support both, pro- beams, in descending order of coverage.4
viding for a more flexible communications A global beam provides the most cover-
platform. age and is used for international relays. A
This design concept was similarly adopted spot beam falls on a narrowly defined geo-
by later satellites, including Intelsat 906, graphical zone, making it particularly effec-
another hybrid spacecraft, but one equipped tive for major metropolitan areas. Because
enhanced C-band and Ku-band capabilities. this signal is concentrated in a relatively
Slated to serve Asia, Africa and other re- small area, it is also stronger than one dis-
gions, the satellite supports the relaying of tributed to the entire country for cable tele-
data streams, among other information vision relays. A smaller and less expensive
types.3 dish could subsequently be used.

Satellite Spacing and Antennas. Geosta- satellite placed in a desirable slot, that is, one
tionary communications satellites had tradi- in which it can communicate with a speci-
tionally been spaced four degrees or well fied geographical area for a given service
over 1000 miles apart in the orbital arc to (e.g., relay television programming), would
create buffer zones. The zones reduce the be a valuable space-based economic asset.
chance of cross-interference during trans-
missions. If eliminated, an uplink, for ex- Power System. A satellite’s electrical
ample, which was not tightly focused, could power is supplied through the conversion of
unintentionally spill over and affect another sunlight into electricity by solar cells and

satellite. ancillary equipment. Cylindrically shaped

In the 1980s, the FCC decided to situate satellites (spin-stabilized) are covered with
communications satellites closer together the cells, whereas a three-axis stabilized
to open up additional orbital slots. This satellite uses wings or extended solar panels.6
action was complemented by specifica- A communications satellite is also equipped
tions for Earth-based antennas that satisfied with a battery system.7
the technical demands imposed by this Besides solar cells, satellites use another
arrangement.5 power source during their 12+ year approx-
The plan was devised to address the imate lifetime. A satellite is equipped with
orbital scarcity problem. As stated, a geosta- external thrusters and a fuel supply. The
tionary slot is an advantageous orbital posi- thrusters, when activated by ground station
tion. But the number of available slots is controllers, emit small jets of gas to help
finite.The region of space that supports this maintain the satellite’s station, which is its
type of orbit is confined to a narrow belt position in its slot. Even though a satellite
above the Earth. in a geostationary orbit appears to be fixed,
A political consideration also plays a role it actually moves slightly or drifts. The
in the allocation process. A nation cannot thrusters correct this drifting.
launch and place a satellite in any slot it Once the fuel is expended, however, the
chooses because slots are assigned on an satellite may be lost to ground operators.8
international basis through the auspices The satellite’s drifting can no longer be cor-
of the International Telecommunications rected, and the satellite may become inoper-
Union. able even though its other systems may still
The FCC’s program was implemented to be functional. In view of this situation, a plan
maximize the United States’ orbital alloca- has been devised to extend a satellite’s life:
tions. It was also a reflection of the increased Let the satellite drift in a controlled fashion.
pressure to launch more satellites, which Because the thrusters are now fired less fre-
demanded the availability of additional quently, the remaining fuel can be stretched.
orbital assignments. The system’s primary drawback is
It should also be noted that orbital slots antenna modifications:The satellite must be
have economic connotations, analogous to tracked. But recent designs have made this
the use of the electromagnetic spectrum as process simpler and less expensive.9 The up-
described in Chapter 2. Companies may grade would also be compensated by the
spend hundreds of millions of dollars to satellite’s longer life.
enhance orbital slots through the deploy- Finally, while communications satellites
ment of satellites. As covered in a later rely on solar energy, spacecraft designed for
section, satellites support numerous revenue deep space and long-term missions have
generating applications. Consequently, a used radioisotope thermoelectric generators
Satellites: Operations and Applications 73

(RTGs), that is, nuclear power. The RTGs While it is a valuable tool in the satellite
have extended lifetimes and have provided industry, compression is not limited to this
power on missions where a spacecraft may field. It is also a powerful tool that has
be too far from the sun to tap its energy as reshaped whole segments of the communi-
a power source.10 cations industry. These include the telecon-
ferencing, multimedia, and video production
markets, as will be explored throughout the
Transmission Methods book.13
A satellite’s information capacity is limited

by different factors, as are other communi- C-Band and Ku-Band. Until the early
cations systems. For a satellite, these include 1980s, transmissions in the commercial
the number of transponders and the power satellite communications field were primar-
supplied to the transmission system. A ily conducted in the 4/6 Gigahertz (GHz)
typical 36-MHz transponder carried by a C- range, the C-band. The 4/6 notation indi-
band satellite, for example, can accommo- cates the downlink and the uplink, respec-
date a television channel and a number of tively. Ground stations that receive their
voice/data channels or subcarriers. signals are generally equipped with 10-foot
Like terrestrial systems, satellite relays can to about 15-foot-diameter dishes.
be either analog or digital.Various transmis- Besides C-band spacecraft, a newer gen-
sion schemes have also been implemented, eration of satellite that employs a higher fre-
including multiple-access systems. Multiple quency range, the K-band, has become
ground stations can gain access to and operational. The first class of this type of
“share” a satellite’s transponder.11 spacecraft uses the Ku-band (12/14 GHz).
Satellite traffic is also increasingly digital, This has an advantage. C-band satellite
and processing techniques have decreased transmissions have been limited in power
the bandwidth requirement and lowered “to avoid interference with terrestrial
transmission costs.An important implication microwave systems.”14 A Ku-band satellite is
of this development, digital compression, not similarly restricted, and the power of its
is making satellite communication available downlink can be increased. This higher
to a broader user group. By employing power also translates into smaller receiving
compression, an organization can use a por- dishes and points out a generalization be-
tion of a transponder for a video relay.12 tween a satellite’s transmission and a dish’s
Although the receiving sites must be size. As the power increases, the dish’s size
equipped to handle this information, the can decrease.
transmission costs are reduced and the satel- The Ku-band also offers a user more flex-
lite can carry additional channels. ibility. A dish’s smaller size and a Ku-band
Supported applications include those system’s freedom from terrestrial operations
outside of the traditional cable and broad- simplifies finding a suitable dish site. C-band
cast industries. In education, a school could systems are not afforded this same luxury.
start a distance learning network, because The possible joint interference and a dish’s
satellite time would be less expensive. Or a size may make it harder to find a location.15
school could produce a series of satellite- The Ka-band for satellites, which has
distributed educational programs. If properly more recently been adopted, is described in
implemented, it could be an efficient and the next chapter in the context of a satellite
cost-effective way to share resources and to that helped pioneer this new communica-
support students. tions tool.

Figure 6.3
Spacecraft showing, as
originally envisioned, its
various components.This
advanced communications
vehicle is described in
the next chapter.
(Courtesy of NASA;
Lewis Research Center.)

Very Small Aperture Terminals. Ku-band Unlike point-to-point configurations,

technology spurred the growth of a satellite where a dedicated line may have to be laid
system that employs very small aperture to connect a new site, with a VSAT, you set
terminals (VSATs). A VSAT is a compact up a dish and its companion electronics. It
dish mated with the necessary electronic also allows an organization to create its own
hardware to create a cost-effective commu- communications network.
nications system composed of a few or nu- In one example, Wal-Mart tapped this
merous sites. technology to process credit card purchase
VSAT technology has grown in popular- transactions. It is faster and less expensive
ity.The small dish can be mounted in a con- than traditional systems.16 VSATs have also
fined area, and a complete station can be been used to distribute press pictures to news
cost effective. A VSAT setup also supports organizations and to deliver video to K-Mart
various network configurations, informa- stores.17 In essence, VSATs help large and
tion, and can even service geographically small organizations take advantage of satellite
remote sites. technology.
A VSAT’s multipoint distribution capabil- There are, however, some disadvantages of
ity also highlights a satellite’s key strength. Ku-band systems. This includes a greater
Satellites: Operations and Applications 75

susceptibility to interference created by rain. The last characteristic may be salient for
A severe rainstorm could disrupt a trans- countries that do not have a developed tele-
mission to varying degrees.18 communications infrastructure or whose
terrestrial telecommunications expansion is
hindered by deserts, mountainous regions or
GENERAL SATELLITE SERVICES other geographical obstructions.
Organizations have tapped this tool by
The U.S. communications satellite fleet con- leasing satellite channel space or by con-
sists of government and commercial space- tracting for a turnkey communications

craft. Government satellites are used for system for a specified fee and time period.
military and nonmilitary applications.These Another option calls for leasing transponder
range from the creation of a worldwide time for occasional use.
communications net for military installations
to serving as a testbed for new technologies.
On the commercial front, Western
Union’s Westar I satellite, launched in 1974, Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Comsat
was the country’s first commercial satellite The international market had been domi-
designed to serve domestic communication nated by the International Telecommunica-
needs.The FCC, which oversees the private tions Satellite Organization (Intelsat) and
element of the satellite fleet, also helped spur other organizations. Intelsat was founded in
the industry’s growth through its open skies 1964 as an international satellite consortium
policy. Articulated in the early 1970s, the (intergovernmental). Intelsat still owns and
policy promoted the commercialization of operates a fleet of satellites that supports the
outer space with regard to commercial satel- international distribution of television and
lite communication. telephone signals and other services.
A company that plans to launch and The Communications Satellite Corpora-
operate a commercial communications sa- tion (Comsat) served as the U.S. representa-
tellite must also seek FCC approval. Other tive to Intelsat.This made Comsat a power-
details must then be resolved, including con- ful and far reaching satellite organization
tracting with a launch agency and obtaining that supported an array of services.
insurance against possible losses. The latter The International Maritime Satellite
could include the destruction of the launch Organization (Inmarsat) for its part, ex-
vehicle (and the satellite) and the satellite’s tended satellite communication to ships at
failure to activate once it reaches its assigned sea, oil drilling rigs, and even remote land
station. sites (mobile communication). Ships, for
The satellite’s emergence as a dominant example, have established satellite links with
player in the communications field is a land bases through stabilized antennas.
reflection of its general reliability and its Intelsat and other intergovernmental
organizations helped foster the growth of
• wide channel capacity, satellite communication. Nevertheless, inde-
• capability to handle a mixed bag of pendent organizations, such as PanAmSat,
information, have stepped forward to compete in this
• capability to simultaneously reach multi- international market. While other satellite
ple sites, and networks served various regions of the Earth,
• capability to reach areas not serviced by they were generally not viewed as Intelsat’s
terrestrial lines. competitors.The new private systems were,

however, competitors for satellite communi- Teleports also helped spur the satellite
cation traffic. industry’s growth. Organizations could share
This development was fueled by new reg- satellite facilities to reduce each participant’s
ulatory developments and the rapid integra- financial burden. This could make satellite
tion of satellite technology and equipment communication more economically attrac-
on the world market.19 When Intelsat and tive for organizations that have not yet
other organizations were founded, the satel- entered the field.
lite industry was in its infancy, and consor- Similarly, a company’s geographical loca-
tia were partly established to foster satellite tion may preclude the building of an Earth

communication for developed and develop- station.22 The establishment of a nearby tele-
ing nations.Today, the tools of satellite tech- port would provide the company with the
nology have reached a level of maturity capability to establish a satellite link.
and cost effectiveness where it is possible to
launch private operations.
Satellites and the Broadcast and Cable
In fact, the wave of privatization also
extended to the intergovernmental satellite
Satellite-distributed television programming
arena. For example, Intelsat was privatized in
is the backbone of the U.S. cable television
2001. One goal was to eliminate certain
industry. HBO and other companies uplink
restrictions to enable the organization to
programming to a satellite, where it is sub-
engage more effectively in the international
sequently downlinked and received by cable
market.20 Inmarsat, for its part, was set up
companies.The programming is then locally
as a limited company in 1999.21 This trend,
distributed to individual subscribers.23
where private industry rather than govern-
WPIX in New York City, WTBS in
ment-controlled organizations or agencies
Atlanta, and other independent television
offer specified services, is also not unique to
stations also tapped this resource.They have
the satellite industry.
used satellites to distribute programming,
much the same way as HBO.The television
networks also turned toward satellite com-
munication. NBC, for example, the first
Satellites can work with terrestrial communi-
Ku-band network, established a national
cations systems. A company’s data may be
satellite system that linked affiliate television
transmitted over a high-speed landline prior
stations. The same technology also helped
to an uplink and after the downlink. Conse-
give birth to new networks by providing
quently, satellite and terrestrial systems can be
organizations with a national distribution
interdependent.The satellite transmission can
vehicle. These developments, and others,
serve as the long-distance connection, while
follow up on the success enjoyed by the
terrestrial lines provide the intracity hookup.
Public Broadcasting System, a pioneering
This integration of systems has been
satellite organization.
exemplified by New York City’s teleport.
The Port Authority, Western Union, and Satellites and Scrambling. As just
Merrill Lynch joined forces to develop a described, television programming is dis-
sophisticated communications center on tributed by satellite to U.S. cable companies.
Staten Island.A series of ground stations tied Once the signals are received, they are
the teleport to national and international routed to individual subscribers.This distri-
satellites and high-speed lines provided the bution system is efficient, but creates a
local connection. problem for cable companies and program
Satellites: Operations and Applications 77

providers. Other satellite dish owners could victed.25 Captain Midnight used the tele-
bypass the local cable company to gain port’s facilities to override HBO’s signal, and
access to this programming. the satellite distributed his signal instead.
The situation developed into a serious Eventually, a compromise was reached
problem by the mid-1980s. The Television between HSD owners and the cable and
Receive-Only (TVRO) industry, partly com- television industries.The owners were gen-
posed of companies that manufacture and erally treated more equitably, on a par with
supply Earth stations, experienced a rapid standard cable subscribers, in terms of
growth of its consumer business.This was a monthly fees. This initiative, among others,

result of the FCC’s 1979 deregulation of helped to somewhat defuse the situation,
receive-only stations. but the problem with illegal descramblers
Consumer-based TVRO systems, consist- continued.26
ing of small backyard receive-only dishes The controversy between these groups
and the complementary electronic compo- also clouded a key issue—the vulnerability
nents, were purchased by more than a of the commercial satellite fleet. If Captain
million Americans. These configurations, Midnight could disrupt HBO’s transmission,
which can be called home satellite dishes other individuals with access to the proper
(HSDs), sprouted up across the country, and facilities could follow suit. Even though this
people were able to watch pay television and group’s size may be somewhat limited, the
other programming for free. situation could change as new facilities, both
In response, scrambling was inaugurated in permanent and portable, are brought online.
the mid-1980s by HBO—a television signal Beyond television programming, finan-
was rendered unintelligible unless you had cial data and other information vital to the
access to a special descrambling device. world community is exchanged daily. An
For cable companies, each site would be ongoing disruption of these services would
equipped with a descrambling unit so their be disastrous. Ultimately, the same technol-
subscribers would continue to receive ogy that advanced our communications
uninterrupted programming. Other services system could potentially harm us. In re-
joined the bandwagon, creating a furor in sponse, the FCC indicated that security
the TVRO industry. Ultimately, dish owners systems had to be implemented to protect
would have to pay to gain access to pro- the integrity of satellite transmissions.27
gramming or use illegally altered decoders.24
One individual became so angry at this
situation that he illegally interrupted HBO’s DIRECT BROADCAST SATELLITES
programming on April 27, 1986, and relayed
his own antiscrambling and antisubscription As conceived, a direct broadcast satellite
fee message: (DBS) was a class of spacecraft that would
initiate a new communications service.
Good evening HBO
Equipped with a very powerful transmission
From Captain Midnight
system, a satellite would operate in the K-
No way! band and would bypass conventional media
Showtime/Movie Channel beware outlets to relay programming directly to
consumers.28 But as will be discussed, this
This satellite pirate, Captain Midnight, was original concept evolved over the years.
eventually identified as a part-time employee It is also important to note that two DBS
at a teleport and was subsequently con- concepts were and still are important: a dish’s

Television Corporation (STC), a subsidiary

of Comsat, planned to use four satellites
to cover the United States.29 Because each
satellite would target only a sector of the
country (for example, the Eastern time
zone), its “focused” signal would help make
it possible to use the smaller dish. But in one
modification, this geographical zone was
extended so the entire country could be

serviced in an accelerated time frame.30

Proposed DBS systems were also somewhat
handicapped by a limited channel capacity.
Weight and power demands had an impact
on the number of transponders and chan-
nels a satellite could support.31 Conse-
quently, five- or six-channel offerings were
not uncommon.
Regardless of the scheme, none of the
high-power DBS ventures became opera-
tional. Different factors contributed to this
Figure 6.4 size and programming choices. Thanks to situation.
Satellites have played a a powerful transmission and to technical
crucial role in monitoring advancements, a dish less than 2 feet in 1. The development of a national system
the weather. In this shot, diameter could be used. This is in contrast demanded a large capital investment.
Hurricane Fran as to the typical 7-foot or more C-band HSD Beyond the millions of dollars to build,
viewed by the GOES-8 launch, and maintain the satellites, a ter-
satellite. (Courtesy of restrial support network had to be
Dish size is a vital concern for DBS
companies since a small dish is unobtru- created.The latter ranged from local sales
sive, compact, fairly inexpensive, and easy to and repair offices to an advertising cam-
set up. It is also permanently aligned toward paign to program licensing fees. For some
a specific satellite, unlike an HSD dish, organizations, the investment was too
which can be moved. high for an untested and potentially risky
Viewing choices are also important. A business.32
DBS company can provide subscribers with 2. The rapid expansion of the TVRO/HSD
movies as well as television and sports pro- and VCR industries exacerbated this sit-
gramming. Current systems, as covered in a uation since the consumer market was
later section, can also compete with cable already served by these applications. In
operations in the delivery of a mixed bag of fact, more than 40 million households
program options. were already equipped with VCRs by the
mid-1980s.33 This was an unfortunate
development for DBS companies since
movies were slated to be a staple feature.
Early History 3. As stated, subscribers would have received
During the early 1980s, various companies only a limited number of channels.
floated DBS proposals, some of which Although this may have been acceptable
shifted over time. For example, the Satellite to consumers who lived in areas with few
Satellites: Operations and Applications 79

programming options, would consumers As of this writing, high-power Ku-band

in areas served by cable follow suit? satellites deliver well over 100 digital chan-
4. The DBS industry could not sustain a suf- nels. Movies, pay-per-view options, and
ficient level of financial support. It was standard programming fare are supported,
also dealt a severe blow in the 1980s when and this programming depth, as well as com-
STC suspended its plans. Other com- parable pricing structure, makes DirecTV
panies, including CBS, had previously directly competitive with cable systems.36
bowed out of the field. Consequently, a You could also opt for a high-speed data
high-power DBS system did not materi- relay to tap into the Internet. Thus, your

alize in the United States. satellite service could serve as an integrated
entertainment and information utility.
In contrast, a low-power service was actu-
ally created by United Satellite Communi-
cations, Inc. (USCI). Instead of constructing Summary
a fleet of expensive and untested high- The attraction of a DBS system is a power-
power satellites, a more proven medium- ful one that fuels continued interest in the
power Ku-band satellite was used. Launched field. Consumers can receive an array of
in 1983, USCI offered subscribers five chan- programs, including ones that may not be
nels of entertainment programming. Future otherwise available. The prerequisite tech-
options included specialized information nology base has also matured since the
services and bilingual programming. 1980s, making DBS operations more feasi-
But despite the advantages of using a less ble and, ultimately, fully integrated in the
expensive spacecraft and beating high- U.S. communications infrastructure. They
power systems to the punch, financial pres- support individuals in rural areas who do
sures forced USCI to close its doors in 1985. not have broadcast or cable options and offer
traditional cable subscribers another choice.
It will be interesting to watch the overall
The Digital Option communications field as satellite, cable, and
Other DBS ventures followed suit, including telephone companies compete for sub-
one proposed by NBC, Hughes Communi- scribers.As the latter two industries upgrade
cations Inc., Cablevision Systems Corpora- their physical plants, they will be better posi-
tion, and the News Corporation Limited. tioned to contend with DBS systems.
The plan collapsed, though, in the early Note also that on the international front,
1990s.34 other countries are well versed in DBS tech-
Nevertheless, as exemplified by DirecTV, nology and continue to draft plans for
a new generation of DBS systems finally sophisticated systems. Japan and various
became a reality in the same era. Initiated in Euro-pean nations are the major contenders
1994 and owned by the Hughes Electronics in this field.
Corporation, DirecTV had already attracted DirecTV-type services also targeted Latin
more than a million subscribers by 1996.35 America during the late 1990s. In one case,
Digital technology and processing tech- Brazil represented a marketing prize. It held
niques have been tapped to make DirecTV a good portion of Latin America’s total
an efficient and comprehensive service.The households, while only “2.5 percent [were]
several channel limitation has been elimi- reached via cable television lines.”37
nated and enhanced audio and video signals This same environment would also offer
can be relayed. satellite companies new challenges. In the

transmission is subsequently picked up by

the home television station. This capability
makes it possible for the station to conduct
relays from distant sites. For example, a
station from Seattle,Washington, could send
its satellite rig to Washington, DC, to estab-
lish a link between Seattle’s congressional
representatives and their constituents.
On the international front, flyaway

systems have extended satellite communica-

tion to regions where standard satellite links
may not be available or accessible. Accom-
modated by a commercial airliner, the sys-
tem is stored in trunks and reassembled on
arrival. The Cable News Network (CNN)
has pioneered the use of such systems to
Figure 6.5 United States, telephone lines are used for cover world events. These include 1989s
An SNG vehicle. Note the return loop and for relaying billing Tiananmen Square student occupation in
the portable dish size. information. In countries where universal Beijing, China, and Operation Desert
(Courtesy of Intelsat.) telephone service do not exist, other options Storm, 1991s Persian Gulf conflict.40
have to be adopted.38
Finally, like other fields, the DBS industry
had to contend with auctions. Bids for avail- Operation Desert Storm
able DBS slots surpassed several hundred Satellite technology made Operation Desert
million dollars.39 Similar auctions were held Storm the first “real-time” war.41 People wit-
for spectrum allocations for other commu- nessed missile attacks and other events as
nications services. they actually occurred. Satellite links also
provided reporters with the ability to relay
voice, video, and computer data (news
SATELLITES, JOURNALISTS, AND stories) to their home offices in a timely
THE NEWS fashion. In Vietnam, for instance, satellites
were generally not available, and footage,
Satellite Newsgathering shot on film,had to be shipped and processed
Satellite communication has revolutionized before airing.This led to a time delay.42
another facet of the television industry— But this new found immediacy triggered
television news. Besides using satellites for negative and positive U.S. responses. In the
story distribution, television stations can most publicized case, Peter Arnett, a CNN
participate in satellite newsgathering (SNG), reporter, continued to file stories from
a newer production form. Baghdad, Iraq, during the war.43 He was
Wider satellite availability, lower costs, and criticized for this action by the Victory
portable equipment have prompted stations Committee, a coalition that included the
to create their own remote setups. A station Accuracy in Media organization.44 The crit-
buys either a van or truck and a portable icism centered on his reporting while under
satellite dish. This rig is taken on the road, Iraqi censorship. On the flip side, tight
and an uplink to a satellite is established restrictions were placed on the press by the
when the reporters reach the story’s site.The U.S. government and its allies.
Satellites: Operations and Applications 81

Operation Iraqi Freedom Arnett subsequently apologized for his

The same region as Operation Desert Storm remarks.
erupted in conflict in early 2003. But in this • In the field, Geraldo Rivera, another
instance, reporters were “embedded”—inte- reporter, left the Middle East for re-
grated—with military units. Using satellites vealing inappropriate information in a
and other technologies, they could file report.49
reports from the field as they moved with • The BBC singled out U.S.–Iraq coverage
the units. At times, proponents and oppo- as so “unquestioningly patriotic and so
nents used this information to try to sway lacking in impartiality that it threatened

world opinion as to the war’s justice or the credibility of America’s electronic
injustice. For the media, Ted Koppel had media . . .”50 The BBC was, for its part,
another observation: criticized for being “soft” on the Iraqi
What’s totally unpredictable, of course, is the government.51
impact that all this coverage will have back at • The Internet provided a global audience
home and around the world. If the campaign with multiple news perspectives from
doesn’t go as quickly or as well as anticipated, if multiple news sources. While the U.S.
friendly casualties are high, if some of the report- and British media, among others, were
ing is deemed too critical, or if some of the infor- charged with certain biases, you could
mation proves inadvertently helpful to the Iraqis, seek out alternate news pools via the
the military may quickly rethink the value of Internet. One potential pitfall, however,
having us journalists along.45 was and still is a news source’s reliability.
These sentiments reflected the mixed Almost anybody with access to a com-
access the media had in previous military puter and the Internet could post infor-
actions. But General Tommy Franks, the mation to a web site—but how credible
U.S. commander, indicated he supported is it?
this concept since it provided, in a sense, a
snapshot of the truth—it opened-up a Questions. The Persian Gulf conflicts
picture window to events as they actually highlighted the media’s capability to deliver
unfolded. Franks also stated it was important the news “as it happened.” Nevertheless,
in light of the First Amendment.46 questions were raised about the collision
This conflict was also the first “Internet” between technology and what should be
war. Live reports streamed in from reporters good reporting. For example,
to the world’s television sets and computers.
Personal diaries and journals on the Inter- • What is technology’s impact?
net, web logs or blogs, were popular Inter- • Does good reporting transcend technol-
net fare. The media also used videophones, ogy?
compact systems that supported video • It may have taken more than a month to
relays, to send in live reports.47 Live video receive a news report if you lived some
from the Persian Gulf and information from 200 years ago. Has the recent immediacy
U.S. and international sources were also of news altered the news process itself?
accessible on the Internet. • Is a good reporter a good reporter regard-
As footnotes to this event, less of the technology that is used?

• Peter Arnett was fired from NBC and The answers, or part of them, may be found
National Geographic for personal com- in a report that explored the media’s role in
ments made on Iraqi television in 2003.48 Operation Desert Storm. It also applied in

2003 and, potentially, for the foreseeable Since the media could order a photograph
future. In brief, “technology cannot be an of a region of the Earth covered by the
end in and of itself in making sense of war- spacecraft, military maneuvers and other sit-
related events. That, as always, remains the uations, which a government may want to
job of the journalists themselves, with the keep hidden, could be revealed. In the
new technology facilitating but not replac- United States, the government could have
ing the task.”52 imposed restrictions on private, domestic
remote sensing licenses, via ambiguous
licensing procedures. If implemented, the

Remote Sensing and the News media’s access to specific images may have
Pioneered in part by Mark Brender and been limited.53
ABC, the news media have adopted another This stance, and others, triggered a reac-
satellite-based system, remote sensing satel- tion from the Radio-Television News
lites, to support their reports. A remote Directors Association (RTNDA) and other
sensing satellite is a sophisticated spacecraft media groups. It was argued that restrictions
equipped with high-resolution cameras and violated First Amendment rights, and the
an array of scientific instruments. Instead of government’s concern over potential na-
being locked in a geostationary orbit, a satel- tional security breaches was unfounded.The
lite can cover the Earth in successive orbits. press had generally been responsible in the
The pattern is then repeated. use of sensitive information in the past
Remote sensing satellites were originally and would follow suit with the satellite
designed to examine and explore the Earth. pictures.
They have helped document the Earth’s Besides this initial government interven-
physical characteristics as well as environ- tion, media organizations were and still are
mental changes. The latter include the faced with other problems that may hinder
impact of deforestation and pollution. this investigative tool’s effectiveness. In one
The United States and France initially led case, a satellite may not be in the correct
the world in this field through their Landsat orbital position to deliver a requested pic-
and SPOT satellites, respectively, and news ture immediately. This delay could hamper
organizations subsequently tapped this tool. the coverage of fast-breaking events.
For example, this type of satellite was an Nevertheless, the remote sensing field still
invaluable resource in the aftermath of the holds great promise. New domestic and
Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. Satel- international satellites have been developed,
lite pictures of the site were obtained and including the deployment of Ikonos in
released by the media. The pictures high- 1999, the “first commercial imaging satel-
lighted the facility’s damage and helped lite.”54 It can produce high-resolution im-
prevent a potential cover-up. ages, and this class of satellite should reduce
ABC News also used remote sensing the response time for pictures. Simplified
images in a special program televised in July image manipulation software has also con-
1987. The pictures documented various tributed to enhanced operations.ABC News,
facets of the Iran–Iraq war.The same region for one, employed such a system during
was also under scrutiny during Operation Operation Desert Storm to generate graph-
Desert Storm and other operations. ics for its programs.
Despite this service’s benefits, all govern- The U.S. government continues to play a
ments, including the U.S. government, were pivotal role in this field. In one example,
not happy with this newfound capability. the Clinton administration released a policy
Satellites: Operations and Applications 83

statement about remote sensing licenses.

While it somewhat relaxed restrictions, they
could still be implemented.55
In April 2003, the Bush administration
redefined this role. The new Policy, which
superceded a 1994 Presidential Directive,
provided for more government support for
commercial ventures. Other goals were to
streamline various licensing procedures, to

enhance the government’s relationship with
the commercial U.S. remote sensing indus-
try, and to give the field a general “boost.”56
However, while implementation details
were still under development as of this
writing, it appears the new Policy was still
somewhat vague in regard to potential gov-
ernment restrictions and the news media. such a scenario, “Fighting the Feds Over Figure 6.6
This topic is discussed more fully in the Shutter Control.” (Copyright by Radio– Satellite systems have
Television News Directors Association. enhanced our
Reprinted with Permission of the communications
capabilities and our
RTNDA.)57 Her words clearly define this
ability to cover world
CONCLUSION issue, and just as important, the satellite events. In this photo, the
images’ inherent power, particularly for a impact of the Kuwait oil
Satellites helped transform our communica- free press. fires (e.g., smoke), set
tions system. In one example, distance is less While written before the Bush Policy, the during operation Desert
of a factor than it was in the past. Satellites article’s main points may still be valid. If, Storm, is evident in this
enable us to relay information rapidly however, the scenario does evolve, the article sequence of photos.
around the world and to view news and still provides valuable insights about the col- (Courtesy of the Earth
human events, such as Tiananmen Square, in lision between a new technology, journalis- Observation Satellite
real time. Other applications support remote tic privileges, and the government. Company, Lanham,
sensing and the delivery of entertainment
programming through DBS companies. Proposed government restrictions on the use of
In essence, satellites have provided us with commercial satellite images are unconstitutional.
a new set of communications tools. It is also History was made two months ago when the
important to remember that we have only first image from a U.S.-owned commercial satel-
been using these tools for a relatively short lite was beamed back to earth and released to the
time. We have only begun to tap their general public. That image was remarkable
potential and, as introduced in Chapter 8, because, although it was made by a satellite orbit-
ing 423 miles above Earth, it showed detail around
their potential to promote a personal com-
the Washington Monument so clearly that you
munication revolution and, ultimately, their
could pick out automobiles on the street.
potential to better explore our own world. The technology is nifty, but why should you
But this optimistic view could be damp- care? Because these images can help television
ened. The remote sensing arena serves as journalists tell stories with a graphic reality never
an example of the impact of potential gov- before possible and can provide images from
ernment intervention. Barbara Cochran, places where cameras are forbidden. Satellite
RTNDA President, wrote an article about imagery can help you report on major storm

systems, ecological change or urban sprawl in Shutter control is the term for cutting off
your community. Soon you will be able to give imaging over a given geographic area for a given
viewers a “fly-through” of your city or the sur- period of time. If a satellite is really nothing more
rounding area. With satellite imagery, producers than a camera in the sky, government exercise of
will be able to show terrain in forbidden territory shutter control constitutes prior restraint of pub-
or a gravesite indicating a massacre. lication of images.
There’s one more reason you should care: The U.S. constitutional law puts a heavy burden on
U.S. government has adopted a policy for these the government if it wants to prevent publication.
commercial satellites that would allow the govern- The First Amendment ensures that the press is
ment to cut off access to images whenever the free of government control and restraint. The

State Department or Pentagon deems it necessary. Supreme Court has insisted that the government
The policy is unconstitutional, a violation of the must take its case to a court of law and present
First Amendment right of the press to publish or evidence to show why publication should be for-
broadcast without government interference, and bidden before the fact. In the case of government
RTNDA is leading the fight against this policy. arguing that publication would endanger national
Until recently, government satellites collected security, the court has said the government must
pictures from space, which were released to the show that publication presents a clear and present
public at the government’s discretion. For years, danger to the national security.
journalists have used weather satellite imagery in The policy for commercial satellite licensing is
their newscasts to inform viewers and even save much broader and more vague than constitutional
lives of those threatened by hurricanes and trop- law prescribes. In addition, the policy puts the
ical storms. Now Earth imagery is available from power to decide to exercise shutter control solely
Russia, France and India. When these images are in the hands of the executive branch, leaving out
combined with computer technology, producers the judiciary entirely.The Secretary of Commerce
can create much more realistic 3-D graphics that may invoke shutter control after being informed
replace artists’ sketches and give the viewer the by either the Secretary of State or Defense that a
sense of “flying through” a landscape. period exists when national security, international
Dan Dubno of CBS News says the network has obligations, or foreign policy interests may be
used satellite imagery in recent months to report compromised.
on “everything from the crisis in Kosovo to the No judicial review. No presentation of evi-
Gulf War; North Korean nuclear development; dence in court. No “clear and present danger”
the atomic bomb tests in Pakistan and India; the test. Rather, the policy makes the executive
assault on Osama bin Laden’s hideaway in branch of government both judge and jury
Afghanistan; the 1999 hurricane season; El Nino; in the matter. And the causes that could trig-
and the shuttle launch.” ger shutter control are so broad as to be
This evolution in journalists’ use of satellite meaningless.
imagery brings enormous benefits. Stories can be These conditions for shutter control were
more accurate and truthful and can give the included in new rules proposed by the federal
public access to geographic areas that are politi- government in 1998. RTNDA and the National
cally inaccessible or too expensive to get to. Association of Broadcasters filed comments
Now, with the advent of more commercial strongly objecting to the rules. I also met person-
satellite companies that will create a business out ally with Secretary of Commerce William Daley
of making these images widely available, journal- to explain our position. So far, the government
ists will have more opportunities than ever to use has not issued a final version.
this imagery. But in 1998 the dispute was theoretical. No
But the choices will exist only to the extent satellite had been successfully launched, no
that the U.S. government permits the imagery to company was providing imagery to the com-
be made available. And contained in the govern- mercial market. That all changed on September
ment policy for licensing of commercial satellites 24, when IKONOS successfully launched and
is some disturbing language on “shutter control.” three weeks later when it began distributing
Satellites: Operations and Applications 85

images with a resolution of one meter, or approx- In one case, during U.S. operations in
imately three feet. Now, journalists and other Afghanistan, the Department of Defense
users have access to imagery with much more entered an “ ‘assured access’ agreement with
detail than ever before of countries, weather . . . Space Imaging, buying all of its satellite
systems, ecological change, and a host of other images of Afghanistan to prevent other users
subjects. Other companies with licenses have
from obtaining them. . . . In this way, formal
plans to launch in the future.
So the question is now a practical one.What if
shutter control never had to be exercised
the conflict in Kosovo were going on now, with . . .”58 This action prevented the triggering
severe restrictions on reporting and deep involve- of shutter control and could set a precedent

ment of U.S. military forces? What would the U.S. for similar situations.
government do? Would it prevent the commercial Other factors include the potential
satellite from photographing Kosovo and the sur- impact of the Bush Policy and the support
rounding area? Would it prove a national security for shutter control-type initiatives in light of
impact, or would the reasons be “foreign policy the time sensitive nature of certain govern-
interests”? And how would news organizations ment actions. For the latter, some propo-
react? Would they try to win the right to argue the nents believe the government should have
case with the executive branch in court? the freedom, when appropriate, to rapidly
At RTNDA, we believe this issue is essential to
initiate security measures without prior
preserving the right to broadcast material in the
public interest without prior restraint. A test of
approval from a federal judge, as some jour-
the government’s role in shutter control is almost nalists have advocated.59
certain to occur in the near future. When it On the flip side, even if the government
does, RTNDA will be in the forefront on does enter into an “assured access” agreement
the issue, protecting the ability of journalists to and does not implement shutter control,
use the best tools available—including satellite could this action be viewed as a different form
imagery—to tell stories that are accurate, inde- of information control? The Policy’s actual
pendent, and in the public interest. implementation must also be fully mapped
out to gauge its impact. But from an initial
Some observers have noted this issue may reading of the Policy’s mandates, Barbara
actually be a nonissue at this point in time. Cochran’s concerns may still hold true.


1. Telecommunications: A Glossary of Telecom- 5. For example, to produce a more focused

munications Terms (Washington, DC: Federal Com- signal.
munications Commission,April 1987), 4, 14. 6. Stabilization refers to the way a satellite
2. Intelsat web site, downloaded January maintains its stability while in orbit. A spin-
2000. stabilized satellite rapidly rotates around an
3. Intelsat, “Intelsat 906 @ 64 Degrees E: axis while the antenna is situated on a despun
Expanding the Network of Major Carriers in platform so it continues to point at the Earth.
Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia,” downloaded Three-axis-stabilized spacecraft use gyros to
from maintain their positions. Other systems also play
satelites_launches_906.asp. a role in this process. NASA has used a three-
4. Mark Long, World Satellite Almanac axis-stabilized concept for many of its outer
(Boise, ID: Comm Tek Publishing Company, space probes. See Andrew F. Inglis, Satellite Tech-
1985), 73. nology (Boston: Focal Press, 1991), 32; and

P.R.K. Chetty, Satellite Technology and Its Implica- 14. Andrew F. Inglis, Satellite Technology
tions (Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books, (Boston: Focal Press, 1991), 30. Note: They share
1991), 174–179, for more detailed information. a frequency range.
7. It can be used during eclipses. 15. Satellite Communication Research,
8. Another vital element in the transmis- Satellite Earth Station Use in Business and Educa-
sion between a satellite and a ground station is tion (Tulsa, OK: Satellite Communication
telemetry data. This is essentially housekeeping Research), 18.
data that are relayed by the satellite to indicate 16. George Lawton, “Deploying VSATs for
its current operational status. In addition, the Specialized Business Applications,” Telecommuni-

ground station can uplink commands, such as cations 28 ( June 1994), 28.
the aforementioned activation of the thrusters 17. Ibid., 30.
and a possible command to move the satellite 18. Long, World Satellite Almanac, 99. Note: At
to a different orbit. Thus, depending on its these higher frequencies, the signal can be
design, a spacecraft is not necessarily locked into weakened, that is, absorbed or scattered by rain-
a position once it achieves its assigned slot. drops. This is analogous to the way the light
9. Phil Dubs, “How to ‘Recycle’ a Dying from a car’s headlights is dispersed and reduced
Bird,” TV Technology 12 (May 1994), 20. in intensity by fog.
10. A controversy erupted about RTGs 19. Please see “Satellite Communications,”
prior to the launching of the Galileo spacecraft. by Carolyn A. Lin, p. 289, which appears in
Designed to investigate Jupiter and its moons Communication Technology Update, 8th Ed.
during an extended mission, Galileo’s systems (Boston: Focal Press, 2002) for further informa-
are powered by RTGs. Protesters sought to tion about the regulatory developments.
block its launch legally. There was a concern 20. Intelsat, “Four Decades of Inspiring
over the possible contamination of the Earth if Achievement,” downloaded from www.intelsat.
the RTGs’ fuel was scattered in a launch disas- com/company/history.asp.
ter. NASA and space advocates replied the 21. Inmarsat,“About Inmarsat,” downloaded
nuclear fuel was in protective containers. Even from
if there were an explosion, the fuel would not 22. For example, a downtown district.
be scattered. Ultimately, the spacecraft was 23. The placement of HBO on satellite also
launched in October 1989. Robert Nichols helped spur the growth of urban cable systems.
provides an excellent overview of this issue in 24. Illegal decoders became available when
his article “Showdown at Pad 39-B,” Ad Astra 1 the supposedly unbreakable scrambling system
(November 1989), 8–15. Other, subsequent was cracked.
spacecraft raised similar concerns. 25. William Sheets and Rudolf Graf, “The
11. Long, World Satellite Almanac, 68. See also Raid on HBO,” Radio-Electronics 10 (October
Chetty, Satellite Technology and Its Implications, 1986), 49. Note: HBO provided the impetus for
402–403, for details. Note: Two such systems the development of the VideoCipher scrambling
have been frequency- and time-division multi- system, originally developed by M/A-Com, Inc.
ple access (FDMA/TDMA). They also created This concept was described in a 1983 HBO
a more efficient communications operation. brochure,“Satellite Security,” for its affiliates.
12. Conversation with Scott Bergstrom, 26. Please see the Satellite Home Viewer
Ph.D., director, Technology-Based Instruction Improvement Act of 1999, available from
Research Lab, Center for Aerospace Sciences,, for more information about HSD
University of North Dakota, August 6, 1992. initiatives.
For additional information, see Peter Lambert, 27. This included the adoption of an auto-
“Digital Compression; Now Arriving on the matic transmitter identification system (ATIS).
Fast Track,” Broadcasting (July 27, 1992), 40–46. Please see Hughes Communications, Inc.
13. Other areas are also discussed at appro- “Staying Clean,” Uplink (spring 1992), 6, for
priate points in the book. details.
Satellites: Operations and Applications 87

28. The transmission system was on the 46. TV interview between Tony Snow
order of 150 to 200 watts of power. (FOX) and Gen. Tommy Franks; broadcast on
29. David L. Price, “The Satellite,” FOX News, April 13, 2003.
COMSAT 11 (1983), 14. 47. Videoconferencing is discussed in a later
30. “STC Asks for Modifications in DBS chapter.
Plans,” Broadcasting (July 23, 1984), 99. 48. National Geographic News, “National
31. Andrew F. Inglis,“Direct Broadcast Satel- Geographic Fires Peter Arnett,” March 31,
lites,” Satellite TV (October 1983), 33. 2003, downloaded from http://news.national
32. “DBS Ranks Cut in Half,” Broadcasting

(October 15, 1984), 75. _arnettfired.html.
33. “Commerce Department Sees Bright 49. Rivera drew a rough map in the sand as
Future for Advertising,” Broadcasting (January 12, to his unit’s location.
1987), 70. 50. Merissa Marr, “BBC Chief Attacks U.S.
34. “USSB, Hughes Revive DBS in $100 Media War Coverage,” Reuters Industry, April
Million + Deal,” Broadcasting (June 10, 1991), 36. 24, 2003, downloaded from
35. “The Growing World of Satellite TV,”
Cable & Broadcasting (February 5, 1996), 59. 25/media_nm/iraq_media_bbc_dc_4.
Note: Stanley Hubbard has been one of the 51. Ibid.
most vocal DBS advocates in the United States 52. Pavlik and Thalhimer, “The Charge of
and started such a service. the E-Mail Brigade,” 37.
36. Hughes Communications, Inc., “Direc 53. Jay Peterzell, “Eye in the Sky,” Columbia
TV,” information flyer. Journalism Review (September/October 1987),46.
37. William H. Boyer,“Across the Americas, 54. Karen Anderson,“Eagle Eye in the Sky,”
1996 Is the Year When DBS Consumers Benefit Broadcasting & Cable (October 12, 1999), 72.
from More Choices,” Satellite Communications 20 Note: In one case, a 10-meter resolution limita-
(April 1996), 24. tion was lifted (Ikonos has a 1 meter capability).
38. Ibid., 26. Note: One option was to use Other countries have also gotten on the remote
local institutions, such as banks, as billing centers. sensing bandwagon, including Russia for high-
39. Rich Brown, “DBS Auctions Yield $735 resolution images. See The Commercial Space
Million,” Broadcasting & Cable (January 29, Act of 1997, H.R. 1702, 105th Congress, 2nd
1996), 6. session and the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act
40. Marc S.Axelrod,“Transmitting Live from of 1992 for information about U.S. policy issues.
Beijing,” InView (summer 1989). 55. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology
41. John Pavlik and Mark Thalhimer, “The Assessment, Civilian Satellite Remote Sensing: A
Charge of the E-Mail Brigade: News Technol- Strategic Approach, OTA-ISS-607 (Washington,
ogy Comes of Age,” in The Media at War: The DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Sep-
Press and the Persian Gulf Conflict (New York: tember 1994), 114.
Gannett Foundation Media Center), 1991, 35. 56. “U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing
42. Ted Koppel,“Journalists overseas rely on Policy,” Fact Sheet, April 25, 2003, down-
their experience, wits and a host of new tech- loaded from
nologies,” Report aired on March 17, 2003; remsens.html.
downloaded from 57. “Fighting the Feds Over Shutter
43. Arnett was a CNN reporter at the time. Control,” by Barbara Cochran, RTNDA Presi-
44. “Group Launches Campaign to ‘Pull dent. Copyright by Radio-Television News
Plug’ on CNN’s Arnett,” Broadcasting (February Directors Association. Reprinted with permis-
18, 1991), 61. sion of the RTNDA.
45. Ted Koppel,“Journalists overseas rely on 58. Jefferson Morris,“Rand: Satellite ‘Shutter
their experience,” downloaded from ABCnews. Control’ Not as Big an Issue as Expected,”
com. downloaded from Nexis.

59. Captain Michael R. Hoversten, “U.S. School; The Air Force Law Review; downloaded
National Security and Government Regulation from LEXIS. Note: The article also provides an
of Commercial Remote Sensing from Outer excellent review of the remote sensing field and
Space,” 2001 Air Force Judge Advocate General related issues.


Boyer, William. “Across the Americas, 1996 Is Sweitzer. “The VSAT Ka-Band Configura-
the Year When DBS Consumers Benefit from tion.” Satellite Communications 23 (October
More Choices.” Satellite Communications 20 1999), 42–44, 48. Early VSAT developments,
(April 1996), 23–30; Robert M. Frieden. applications, the players, and Ka-band systems.
“Satellites in the Global Information Infra- Chetty, P.R.K. Satellite Technology and Its Appli-
structure: Opportunities and Handicaps.” cations. Blue Ridge Summit, PA:TAB Profes-
Telecommunications 30 (February 1996),29–33; sional and Reference Books, 1991; Andrew
David Hartshorn. “Conjuring the Cure for F. Inglis. Satellite Technology: An Introduction.
Asian Flu.” Satellite Communications 23 Boston: Focal Press, 1991; Donald Martin.
(January 1999),24–31;Via Satellite extensively Communication Satellites, 4th Ed. El Segundo,
covers the international satellite market with CA:The Aerospace Press, 2000. Satellites and
articles such as: Peter J. Brown. “It Takes Two their applications.
to Tango . . . Latin America.” Via Satellite XVI Communications News. From late 1987 through
(July 2001), 32–43; Nick Mitsis. “Africa 1988, Communications News ran a series of
Uniting the Continent Through Satellite articles devoted to VSATs. These articles
Technology.” Via Satellite XVI (November provide an interesting perspective of this
2001), 36–45; Nick Mitsis. “Asian Economic field. Includes David Wilkerson, “VSAT
Tiger Awakens.” Via Satellite XVI (April Technology for Today and the Future—Part
2001), 20–28. Articles that cover various 3: Use Private Networks or Leased Services?”
international satellite issues. (November 1987), 60–63.
Brender, Mark E. “Remote Sensing and the Dorr, Les, Jr. “PanAmSat Takes on a Giant.”
First Amendment.” Space Policy (November Space World W-12–276 (December 1986),
1987), 293–297. An excellent review of 14–17; “Anselmo, Landman Team Up to
remote sensing, journalism, and First Tackle Intelsat.” Broadcasting (August 5, 1991),
Amendment issues, prior to the Clinton 48. Early look at private, international satel-
administration. lite networks.
Careless, James. “Databroadcasting: Pushing Dubs, Phil. “How to ‘Recycle’ a Dying Bird.”
Boundaries.” Via Satellite XVII (October TV Technology 12 (May 1994), 20. An inter-
2002), 28–33; James Careless. “Ka-Band esting look at how to extend a satellite’s use-
VSATs: Blazing the Next Great Frontier.” Via ful lifetime.
Satellite XVI (February 2001), 40–48; Patrick “EOSAT Operations Underway.”The Photogram-
Flanagan. “VSAT: A Market and Technology metric Coyote 9 (March 1986), 8, 17;“SPOT to
Overview.” Telecommunications 27 (March Fly in October.” The Photogrammetric Coyote 8
1993), 19–24; George Lawton. “Deploying (September 1985), 2, 4; David L. Glackin and
VSATs for Specialized Business Applications.” Gerard R. Peltzer. Civil, Commercial, and Inter-
Telecommunications 28 (June 1994), 28–32; national Remote Sensing Systems and Geoprocess-
Gino Picasso.“VSAT’s: Continuing Improve- ing. El Segundo, CA: The Aerospace Press,
ments for a Workhorse Technology.” Telecom- 1999; NASA.“The Landsat Satellites: Unique
munications 32 (September 1998), 56–57; John National Assets.” (FS-1999(03)-004-GSFC),
Satellites: Operations and Applications 89

downloaded; U.S. Congress, Office of Tech- tions.” An AEJMC Convention paper,

nology Assessment. Civilian Satellite Remote Radio–TV Journalism Division, August
Sensing: A Strategic Approach, OTA-ISS-607. 1990. Network affiliates and “their policies in
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing sharing news video with their networks and
Office, September 1994. Earlier to more other stations.”
recent examinations of remote sensing satel- U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “National Space
lites, policies, and applications. Policy Review Remote Sensing,” down-
Gildea, Kerry.“Lawmakers Put Pressure on DoD loaded from
to Devise Commercial Imagery Strategy,” policy/remotesensing2.htm; U.S. Chamber

downloaded from Nexis; “RTNDA Protests of Commerce. “U.S. Chamber’s Space En-
Imaging Satellite Constraints.” Broadcasting & terprise Council Welcomes New National
Cable (August 12, 1996), 84. Domestic remote Remote Sensing Policy,” downloaded from
sensing restrictions and security concerns (on
the part of the U.S. government). may/03-82.htm.The U.S. Chamber of Com-
Nelson, Robert A. “What Is the Radius of the merce’s recommendations for the govern-
Geostationary Orbit.” Via Satellite XVI (Sep- ment’s role in this field (first article) and its
tember 2001), 80. Brief but excellent descrip- response to the Bush Policy (second article).
tion of the geostationary orbit and factors While the response is positive, there may still
that necessitate the use of thrusters to main- be gaps that have potential First Amendment
tain a satellite’s station. implications.
Niekamp, Raymond A. “Satellite Newsgather-
ing and Its Effect on Network-Affiliate Rela-


Active Satellite: A satellite equipped to receive satellite’s motion is synchronized with the
signals and to relay its own signal back to Earth’s rotation and appears, to ground obser-
Earth. vers, to be stationary.This has technical advan-
C-Band: A satellite communication frequency tages for maintaining a communications link.
band and satellite class. Commercial C-band International Telecommunications Satellite Organiza-
satellites are the older of the contemporary tion (Intelsat): A pioneering international
communications satellite fleet. satellite consortium. Intelsat supports a broad
Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS): A communica- range of satellite services.
tions satellite that delivers movies and other Ku-Band: A newer satellite communication
offerings to subscribers equipped with com- band and class. Ku-band satellites also support
pact satellite dishes. more powerful downlinks and have news
Earth Station: An Earth station establishes a (media) applications.
communication link with a satellite. Some Orbital Spacing: Buffer zones physically separate
Earth stations, also called ground stations, the satellites to help eliminate interference.
transmit and receive signals; others only Passive Satellite: A satellite that does not relay its
receive signals. own signal back to Earth.
Footprint: The shape of a satellite transmission’s Remote Sensing Satellite: A remote sensing satel-
reception area on the Earth. lite scans and explores the Earth with differ-
Geostationary Orbit: A desirable orbital posi- ent instruments, including cameras. Images
tion/slot for a communications satellite. The can highlight the Earth’s physical character-

istics, such as wetland acreage losses. The Shutter Control: As described, a “term for
media have also used these satellites to cover cutting off imaging over a given geographic
potentially inaccessible regions for news cov- area for a given period of time.” Shutter
erage, and now there is a new generation of control refers to remote sensing satellites and
commercial imaging satellite. potential government restrictions.
Satellite Newsgathering (SNG): The process of Teleport: A satellite dish farm.
using small, transportable satellite dishes to Transponder: The heart of a satellite’s commu-
directly relay news stories from almost any- nications system that acts like a repeater in
where in the field. the sky.

Scrambling: A process in which a satellite’s signal Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT): A small
is rendered unintelligible. The receiving site satellite dish and the complementary elec-
is equipped with a decoder to return the tronic components. A VSAT system can be
signal to its original state. cost effective.
7 Satellites: New
Developments, Launch
Vehicles, and
Space Law

The previous chapter covered satellite fun- Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS).
damentals. These ranged from basic opera- Launched in 1993, ACTS operates in the
tions to communications applications. This Ka-band. Its features range from those just
chapter focuses on complementary topics described to a sophisticated transmission
including future technologies and launch system that can support “fixed beams and
vehicles. The latter is critical. Without cost- hopping spot beams that can be used to
effective launch vehicles, new satellites may service traffic needs on a dynamic basis.
never literally leave the ground. We con- A hopping spot beam . . . sends/receives
clude with a quick look at relevant space law information and then the beam electroni-
and a history of the U.S. space initiative. cally ‘hops’ to a second location. . . .”1 It can
respond to user demands and traffic needs.
ACTS can sustain a high data rate, smaller
receiving antennas can be used, and it is a
flexible communications system. Tests have
also been conducted to gauge its perfor-
The plans for the next generation of com-
mance.Three representative examples include
munications satellite have been drafted. The
ISDN experiments, military and medical
spacecraft will improve on current designs and
applications, and the capability to quickly
could carry sophisticated on-board switching
restore communications services when ter-
and processing equipment. These intelligent
restrial links are disrupted.2
satellites will direct the flow of communica-
ACTS was also originally designed to
tions signals, which will help streamline the
accommodate an experimental optical com-
ground network and the establishment of
munications system. Devised by the military
communications links. Such satellites will
to produce a secure relay,it was later scrapped
potentially reduce the cost to create, run, and
from the mission. The satellite was actually
maintain our communications system.
slated to be decommissioned by NASA in
2000. However, the Ohio Consortium for
Advanced Communications Advanced Communications Technology
Technology Satellite, the Ka-Band, and (OCACT) was established to “oversee the
Three Corner Sat continued operation of . . . ACTS for the
This new generation of spacecraft is exem- purpose of educating students in various
plified by NASA’s experimental Advanced areas of satellite operations and technology,


and the continuation of satellite communi- cated systems also dictate the construction
cations research in the Ka-band.”3 Thus, of a more complex satellite. This may have
another of the mission’s original goals—the reliability implications.6
fostering of a collaborative environment be- Finally, it is important to note the com-
tween governmental and academic/other mercial satellite field is a dynamic one. Re-
nongovernmental agencies—continued. search continues to enhance current space-
More pointedly for this chapter, the craft while companies, sometimes in league
success of the ACTS mission helped with the government, continue to explore
open-up the Ka-band for commercial satel- new communications options. One such

lite communication. For example, Ka-band case is the potential broadening of the com-
satellites will benefit from NASA’s work mercial use of another satellite band, the X-
with spot beam and internal signal switch- band. Primarily relegated to government-
ing capabilities.Two targeted applications are based activities (e.g., military use), the X-
the support of high-speed VSAT configura- band represents another frequency that may
tions and Internet service.4 be tapped, in one example, to support gov-
Satellites may also be built with more ernmental initiatives through commercial
autonomous capabilities. One goal is to satellite systems.7
develop systems that can process data with
less human intervention.
NASA has tapped this capability for
terrestrial and space-based applications. One Smallsats and Space Platforms
project, the Three Corner Sat (3CS) mis- Besides an ACTS-type spacecraft, other
sion, would reduce the input from ground developments have and will continue to
controllers.The onboard software would, in advance satellite technology. These include
one operation, have “the ability to make the launching of smallsats and space
real-time decisions based on the images it platforms.
acquires and send back only those it deems Smallsats are small, cost-effective satellites.
important . . . Less time will be needed to They can be used for remote sensing, creat-
transmit the data, freeing up power and ing personal communications networks,
allowing the spacecraft to concentrate on and for other applications.8 The bottom-line
other important tasks.”5 figure for countries and organizations is
As the technology base matures, this prin- that satellite technology has become more
ciple could be adopted for other space-based affordable. A smallsat is less expensive than
projects, including autonomous planetary a conventional satellite and can be designed
rovers. It could similarly be used in the and assembled in an accelerated time frame.
design of intelligent communications satel- These factors are crucial for new and
lites and imaging spacecraft with enhanced developing applications. As covered in
operational capabilities. Chapter 8, satellite-based personal commu-
Yet, while these developments have nication could be supported, in one config-
advantages, there are some pitfalls. The uration, by a satellite series or constellation
implementation of any new technology, for placed in low Earth orbit.
instance, generally entails a financial invest- Basically, if you have to build and launch
ment and, potentially, costs that may be a number of satellites to start a service, you
passed on to the customer. Ka-band satellites cannot spend two or more years to manu-
are also more vulnerable to rain fade—rain facture a single spacecraft. This is where
can disrupt a transmission. More sophisti- smallsats step in. Instead of building cus-
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 93

tomized satellites, you reuse existing tech-

nologies and products. Modular satellite sys-
tems, which can accommodate different
space-based applications, are also employed.9
The process is somewhat analogous to
mass production, but there may be a trade-
off.The smallsat may not be as sophisticated
or capable of handling as many tasks as its
larger and more costly counterpart. But this

may not be the design goal in creating a
smallsat in the first place.
Similarly, the reuse of components or
design concepts has been extended to outer
space exploration. To save mission costs,
commercially produced systems, or a design
implemented on a satellite, for instance,
could be used in the production of an outer
space probe.
Finally, a space platform would be a large
structure placed in orbit. It would route a
high volume of information while occupy-
ing only a single slot. A single platform
could potentially replace several contempo-
rary spacecraft.

Figure 7.1
Space Weather and Space Debris The Challenger at
It is important to note that scientists believe Besides natural phenomena, satellites, liftoff. (Courtesy of
some satellites may be more susceptible to particularly in low and medium orbits, face NSSDC.)
space weather—for our discussion, adverse another hazard.The Earth is surrounded by
solar activity that could damage a space- a “cloud” composed of millions of pieces of
craft.10 As we move toward more mass debris.This space junk, which can vary from
produced systems, which may employ com- paint particles to radioactive droplets leaked
mercial, off-the-shelf components, they may from other satellites, poses new challenges
not be adequately shielded from radiation. for satellite designers.12 While the possibility
Other solar activities may also harm “tradi- for a fatal impact is slight, precautions have
tional” satellites as well. In fact, the National to be taken. Organizations have also drafted
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to produce less “polluting” spacecraft
(NOAA) has developed a “space weather and rockets.13 Much like environmental
scale” that tracks the potential damage that conditions on certain regions of the Earth,
could be caused by solar originated “geo- our lack of foresight has had unforeseen
magnetic storms.”11 consequences. This time, it is in space.
The upshot of these effects? If communica- The problem may also be magnified if an
tions satellites are damaged, our communica- armed conflict or terrorist attack is extended
tions system may be affected,and by extension, to space. Commercial and military satellites
certain communications capabilities. could be potential targets, particularly the

newer generation remote sensing and imag- • As a piloted vehicle, it had to support a
ing satellites. As discussed, these spacecraft crew;
could produce detailed images of a coun- • As a multipurpose vehicle, it had to
try that may want to shield its activities support a range of missions; and
from view. If a satellite were destroyed in • It was refurbishable.
space, the resulting debris would create
another, potentially harmful, space hazard Consequently, the shuttle was a complex
beyond the service disruptions and mone- spacecraft. While it proved successful in
tary costs. many ways, its complex design and other

factors, including refurbishing delays, led to

setbacks. A somewhat burdensome organi-
LAUNCH VEHICLES zational hierarchy also hampered the shuttle
New launch vehicles and organizations will
fuel the growth of the satellite system. In the The Challenger Explosion. In February
past, companies and most nations signed 1984, the space shuttle’s credibility as a
with NASA for this job, placing a heavy launch vehicle received a blow. After its
demand on launch vehicles and facilities. release, the Westar VI satellite’s booster mal-
This situation looked as if it was going to be functioned, and the satellite was stuck in
altered in the 1980s. The development of a useless orbit. Indonesia’s Palapa-B2, the
NASA’s space shuttle and the entry Ariane- mission’s second satellite, suffered a similar
space, a private consortium, promised to fate.14 A little less than 2 years later, the
facilitate satellite launch operations. explosion of the space shuttle Challenger
shocked the world.The entire crew was lost
in the most devastating tragedy in NASA’s
The Space Shuttle history. (As discussed in a later section, this
The space shuttle is the world’s first refur- was followed by the loss of the space shuttle
bishable manned or piloted spacecraft. After Columbia, in 2003.)
a mission, the shuttle returns to Earth and is In the wake of the Challenger disaster,
refurbished for its next flight. The space and a report released by an investigatory
shuttle can carry a self-contained laboratory, commission, President Ronald Reagan an-
scientific experiments, and satellites in its nounced that NASA would generally with-
hold, the cargo bay. In its latter role, the draw from the commercial satellite launch
shuttle initially carries a satellite to a low industry. The frequency of future flights
Earth orbit where it is subsequently released. would also be scaled down, and the shuttle’s
If the satellite’s final destination is a geosta- primary role would be to support scientific
tionary orbit, an attached rocket booster and military missions.
propels the satellite to a specified altitude, This directive reflected the president’s
and it eventually reaches a preassigned attitude toward the government’s role in
orbital slot after maneuvers. private enterprises and the realization that
The shuttle’s original promise and pre- an overly ambitious launch schedule con-
mise was to make space accessible and oper- tributed to Challenger’s destruction.As stated
ations cost effective. Yet it was plagued by by the commission, “The nation’s reliance
mechanical and structural problems. This on the Shuttle as its principal space launch
was partly a reflection of the spacecraft’s capability created a relentless pressure on
heritage: NASA to increase the flight rate.”15 This
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 95

pressure played a role in the decision to full swing, ELVs were delegated to a sec-
launch Challenger under adverse weather ondary role. But they have reemerged from
conditions. Other contributing elements, the background.
which led to Challenger’s destruction, were The space shuttle, for its part, will con-
design flaws in the shuttle’s rocket boosters, tinue to fulfill the role for which it is best
as well as possible flaws in the spacecraft’s suited, that of a special utility and research
overall design and the booster refurbishing vehicle.An example of the former was a dra-
process.16 matic and televised salvage operation.
Various companies subsequently stepped In 1992, the shuttle Endeavor rendez-

forward to fill the void in the commercial voused with an Intelsat VI satellite stuck in
launch industry. Even though there was a low orbit. After some difficulties, astro-
some prior activity, the list of interested nauts retrieved the satellite, brought it into
parties has grown at an accelerated rate.17 the shuttle’s bay, and attached a motor for a
Companies adopted existing rockets and subsequent boost to its final geostationary
developed new unpiloted rockets, expend- position.
able launch vehicles (ELVs). An example of Besides contributing to the knowledge
the latter was Orbital Sciences Corpora- base for recovery missions, some of the
tion’s Pegasus. Instead of a typical ground shortcomings of simulations were revealed.
launch, Pegasus was carried by a jet, released, A simulation, which attempts to duplicate
and then proceeded on its own power. the conditions of an actual event, was inac-
This class of ELV was developed to lift curate in this case. An alternate plan had to
small payloads into low Earth orbits. They be devised and implemented.
also complemented smallsats since they were This type of practical experience in
less expensive than conventional ELVs.18 But dealing with novel situations is important
depending on the circumstances, a smallsat for the future of extravehicular space-based
could even hitch a ride on a conventional activities. It also highlighted, at this stage
ELV, as part of another payload.19 of our technology base, the value of the
These innovations will help fuel the human presence in space. Humans, unlike
smallsat industry. An organization may have current robotic devices, can adapt to unique
access to a smallsat, but without a cost- circumstances.20
effective ELV, it may not be able to launch it.
Launch costs are also factors in the creation
and maintenance of satellite constellations. Arianespace
The future U.S. satellite launch fleet will Arianespace is a private commercial enter-
include the space shuttle and ELVs. The prise and an offshoot of another European
commercial sector will use ELVs while the organization, the European Space Agency
government will also rely on the shuttle. (ESA). Arianespace was created in response
NASA has helped support this industry by to NASA’s earlier domination of the
leasing its facilities to private companies and satellite launch industry.21 Arianespace has
through other programs. This support has aggressively promoted and marketed ELVs
been timely in light of the stiff competition and a sophisticated launch and support
American companies will continue to face in operation. Its rockets have a flexible payload
the international satellite launch market. capability and can accommodate heavy
This mixed fleet has also provided the payloads.
United States with a more balanced launch Arianespace has also maintained a com-
capability.When the shuttle program was in petitive price structure, and its launch site in

Figure 7.2
Pegasus launch vehicle.
The diagrams highlight
its features. (Courtesy of
Orbital Sciences Corp.)
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 97

Kourou, French Guyana, is particularly well

situated to place satellites in geostationary
and other orbital positions. These factors
and others contributed to its growing share
of the international launch market when
NASA was still a participant in the field.
Despite its successes, Arianespace has
suffered some of its own setbacks. Satellites
have been destroyed by rocket failures, and

the organization must face a host of new and
potential competitors, including China,
private U.S. companies, and Japan.

The Current and Future State of the

Satellite Launch Industry
The commercial launch industry, as indi-
cated, experienced a series of upheavals.
While it is true that NASA had left the field,
companies and other nations have filled the
void. The increased competition triggered
by NASA’s decision may actually make it
easier, in the long run, for an organization
to launch a satellite. In fact, a report issued
by the Commission on the Future of the
United States Aerospace Industry, noted
that the supply of potential launch vehicles
had actually outstripped the potential
On a bleaker note for the United States,
its preeminent position in the satellite man-
ufacturing field has been eroding. During
the late 1980s to early 1990s, the United
States manufactured 36 communications the early 2000s in the same Aerospace Indus- Figure 7.3
The Ariane 42P, with
satellites and Europe and Japan built 23.23 try report. It was noted “that a ‘sense of
two solid strap-on
Prior to this time, the United States had lethargy’ has taken over the U.S. space indus- boosters. (Courtesy of
dominated the industry. try. Instead of the excitement and exuber- Arianespace.)
This erosion was somewhat mirrored by ance that dominated our early ventures into
other U.S. space initiatives. Mixed signals space, we at times seems almost apologetic
about the viability of the then-proposed about our continued investments in the
space station were sent to the public and space program.”25
international community. The situation was Nevertheless, there were and are some
further exacerbated by mishaps, including positive signs.These range from the extend-
the loss of Mars probes and a technical ed ACTS mission to the development of
problem with the Galileo, Jupiter mission.24 enhanced satellite systems. Congress also
The overall sentiment was summed up in recognized the necessity of supporting a

Figure 7.4
Lockheed Martin’s X-
33 from different views.
(Courtesy of NASA.)

strong satellite and launch industry. As shuttle, a vehicle could be prepared for its
stated,“this industry contributed to the U.S. next flight without major refurbishing.This
economy, strengthens U.S. scientific inter- capability would save time and money.
ests, and supports foreign policy and secu- The X-30 is also a hypersonic flight vehicle,
rity interests.”26 as are other, more recent NASA techno-
logy and flight demonstrators, including the
New Ventures. The United States and Hyper-X series. As envisioned, this new
other countries have also tried to make generation of vehicle would “routinely fly
space more accessible and affordable. One about 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface
proposal was the National AeroSpace Plane and reach sustained travel speeds in excess
Program (NASP) with its experimental X- of Mach 5, or 3750 mph—the point which
30 vehicle.The NASP was slated to pave the ‘supersonic’ flight becomes ‘hypersonic’
way for aerospace planes that could take off flight.”28 Projected applications for such
and land on conventional runways, attain a vehicles, if and when operational, could
low Earth orbit, and be reusable instead of include retrieving low orbit satellites and
refurbishable.27 servicing the space station.29 Another spinoff
Much like an airline, the term reusable is more down to Earth. New airliners based
implies a quick turnaround time. Unlike the on this concept could carry passengers
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 99

between cities faster, for example, in one erate the development of low-cost, reusable
route from Los Angeles to Sydney,Australia, vehicles and thereby jump-start the creation
in 2.5 rather than 13.5 hours.30 of a space tourism industry.”34
The goal of making space more accessible, As has also been indicated, satellite
and the search to replace the space shuttle, launches are not infallible. Accidents do oc-
has similarly influenced other potential cur, and a launch vehicle and accompanying
systems. One program’s objective, for in- satellite(s) can be lost. Future launches may
stance, was the development of a reusable also be postponed until the accident’s
launch system through a single-stage to orbit underlying cause has been determined.This

rocket. The Reusable Launch Vehicle Tech- waiting period may be unacceptable to an
nology Program’s objective was to create organization with a tight timetable.Thus, an
“technologies and new operational concepts organization may sign contracts with multi-
that can radically reduce the cost of access to ple vendors to launch its satellites. If one
space. The program will combine ground ELV is “grounded,” other satellites could
and flight demonstrations. An important continue to be launched.35 It is hoped,
aspect . . . will be the use of experimental though, that as new ELVs come on line, the
flight vehicles—the X-33 and X-34—to number of accidents will diminish and the
verify full-up systems performance. . . .”31 decades old dream of making space access
Consequently, the goal has been to affordable will be realized—not only for
replace current launch vehicles, where prac- organizations and governments, but also for
ticable, with cost-effective reusable systems. the rest of us.
The Delta-Clipper Experimental (DC-X)
rocket already tested key concepts at the
White Sands Missile range in the early to SPACE EXPLORATION
mid-1990s.32 This was followed by NASA’s
cooperative agreement with Lockheed In closing this chapter, it is appropriate to
Martin to work on the X-33 program. One examine an area related to satellite commu-
stated goal was to “cut the cost of a pound nication: space exploration. Both fields coin-
of payload to orbit from $10,000 to $1000,” cide to a certain extent, and space probes are
the magical number that would help make sophisticated communications tools in their
space realistically affordable.33 own right. More important, developments
It must also be noted that new designs in this field have had an impact on the infor-
and plans will inevitably be brought mation and communications industries.
forward. Based on technological, program- As will be discussed in Chapter 14, NASA
matic, and budgetary needs, they will either helped pioneer image processing techniques
remain images on a computer screen or to enhance and correct pictures transmitted
possibly enter the prototype and production by outer space probes. Similar techniques
phases. New initiatives will also include have been applied on Earth in the computer
ELVs as designs are generated and existing graphics and medical fields, among other
vehicles are updated and modified to carry application areas. The media has also used
heavier payloads. remote sensing satellites, originally designed
Finally, Xs made another appearance in to explore the Earth. Consequently, cross-
1996 in the guise of the X-prize. Borrow- fertilization can occur between what can
ing a tactic from aviation’s early days when be called outer and inner space operations.
monetary prizes were offered to advance As such, outer space developments at least
flying, the modern X-prize seeks to “accel- merit an overview.

stone was the inauguration of NASA on

October 1, 1958, as the successor to the
National Advisory Committee for Aeronau-
tics (NACA). NACA, founded in 1915,
helped advance the nation’s aeronautical
industry through research and related activ-
ities. The new agency was given the same
mandate and oversight of the civilian space

Some of the space program’s major events

and influencing factors are as follows:

1.The Soviet Union launches the first arti-

ficial satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4,
2.On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut
Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human
in space.The U.S. space program centers
about Project Mercury and its seven
3.President John F. Kennedy commits the
nation to landing an astronaut on the
moon before the end of the decade
(Project Apollo).
4.On January 27, 1967, a fire in the Apollo
command module kills three astro-
nauts.37 A Russian cosmonaut loses his
life in the same year.38
5.On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and
Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin of Apollo 11
become the first humans to walk on the
moon, while their comrade, Michael
Collins, orbits overhead.
6.The Apollo program comes to a halt
after Apollo 17 in December 1972,
Figure 7.5 This section also provides a brief history owing to financial considerations and
The Hubble Space of NASA and highlights some of the forces the changing U.S. social and political
Telescope being that have shaped and continue to shape climate (for example, the Vietnam War).
refurbished during a the space program.These include social and 7.The 1970s and early 1980s witness other
shuttle mission. political issues and pressures. The section
(Courtesy of NSSDC.) missions, including the Apollo-Soyuz
concludes with an overview of legal impli- Test Project (1975), in which a Soviet
cations governing space-based activities. and U.S. spacecraft dock in orbit, and the
development of the space shuttle.
History 8.Budgetary constraints and the loss of the
The 1950s witnessed the birth of the space shuttle Challenger contribute to
modern era of space exploration.36 A mile- the dearth of planetary missions from
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 101

the late 1970s until the late 1980s.39 The • ignoring safety warnings by experts,41 and
potential lack of appropriations for • if NASA should have used satellite
ACTS and other projects could have imagery or a spacewalk to investigate the
similarly derailed advanced satellite/ wing prior to re-entry since the foam
planetary spacecraft missions. impact was observed during launch.42
9.The Galileo probe investigates Jupiter
and its moons in the 1990s and the As was the case with Challenger, some indi-
Hubble Space Telescope continues its viduals called for the cessation of the human
exploration of the universe from a low exploration of space since it was dangerous.

Earth orbit. Both systems, though, have Others, however, believed the flights should
suffered from performance problems. A and must continue.They extend our knowl-
rover, controlled from Earth, explores edge and contribute to the centuries-old
Mars. human exploration of our world, and now,
10.Space probes explore the Solar System, of other worlds as well.43
including Mercury,Venus, Mars, Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, asteroids, the
Moon, and the Sun. Only Pluto remains Legal Implications
to be visited by a probe, which may As our satellites’ capabilities increase and we
come to fruition at some future date, if develop commercial space-based enter-
a proposed mission is launched. prises, legal issues become more important.
11.The Earth is explored by different satel- Relevant topics already discussed are orbital
lites. For example, remote sensing satel- assignments, signal piracy, and the role of
lites image the Earth for geological, and Intelsat and competing organizations in
more recently, media applications. the international arena. Additional subjects
12.A new series of spacecraft explore Mars, include the following:
while an international space station
orbits the Earth. • The UN’s concern about the interna-
tional free flow of information and its
Finally, as stated, the space shuttle Colum- balance; not solely from the developed to
bia was lost in early 2003. Engaged in a sci- the developing world.
entific mission, the shuttle broke-up during • The international dissemination of data
re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere. Shuttle by remote sensing satellites.
pieces and sections were subsequently recov- • The U.S. media’s use of such images and
ered and reconstructed. As of this writing, the impact of government restrictions and
the best data indicate a piece of foam insula- regulations.
tion, which ripped off the external fuel tank • The sociopolitical impact of DBS relays
during launch, slammed into the shuttle’s if the signals spill over to a neighboring
wing. The impact damaged a section of the country.44
wing’s leading edge, which was ultimately • The “upward extent” of a country’s
breached by hot gas during the re-entry.40 national sovereignty—is it 100 miles, or
This triggered a series of events and, ulti- could it be lower or even higher?45 How
mately, led to Columbia’s destruction. high is high? What are the political impli-
A follow-up investigation indicated that cations for satellites with respect to their
some shortfalls at NASA might have con- orbital slots?
tributed to the loss.They may have included • Ownership/property rights in space.
the following: Various legal questions remain as to

Bicentennial Committee covered this

issue in a subcommittee.An outcome, the
“Declaration of First Principles for the
Governance of Outer Space Societies,”
declared that the U.S. Constitution should
also apply to “individuals living in outer
space societies under United States
jurisdiction.”47 The document’s drafters
believed that individual rights, such as

freedom of speech, assembly, and media

and communications [my emphasis], are
fundamental principles that would extend
to U.S. space societies, balanced against
the unique environment afforded by
outer space.48

property rights on the moon and other Finally, there are other legal issues beyond
Figure 7.6 the scope of this book, such as licensing
celestial bodies.46 In one case, would a
The chart highlights the policies and procedures for communications
decline in the U.S. company or consortium invest hundreds
of millions of dollars to develop a mining satellites. For the realm of outer space, there’s
satellite manufacturing
operation if its rights were not clearly a growing body of space law. It is a fasci-
(8.5 and 5.5) and
launch industries (4.1 defined? nating field, and one that will continue to
and 1.7).The figures • Individual rights for space explorers evolve as we begin to take our first outward
represent revenues and and/or colonists. The U.S. Constitution steps in space.
are measured in the
billions of dollars.
(Source: Via Satellite,
“Strategic Planning and
1. NASA, “Advanced Communications 6. James Careless, “Ka-Band Satellites,” Via
Technology Satellite (ACTS) Hardware,” Infor- Satellite XVI (February 2001), 41.
mation Sheet, 3. 7. Nick Mitsis, “X-BAND: How Interested
2. Frank Gedney and Frank Gargione, Should the Commercial Sector Be?” Via Satel-
“ACTS: New Services for Communications,” lite XVIII (August 2003), 33.
Satellite Communications (September 1994), 48. 8. Brian J. Horais, “Small Satellites Prove
3. OCACT, “Background Information Capable for Low-Cost Imaging,” Laser Focus
Sheet,” downloaded from World 27 (September 1991), 148.
Note: Ohio University plays a major role in the 9. Amy Cosper, “Crank Up the Assembly
consortium. Line,” Satellite Communications (February
4. Peter J. Brown, “Ka-Band Services: Avail- 1996), 29. Note: NASA has adopted a
able in Different Flavors,” Via Satellite XVI similar philosophy for some of its outer space
(February 2001), 22. missions.
5. NASA,“Artificial Intelligence Software to 10. Sten Odenwald, “Solar Storms: The
Command Mission,” Press Release, May 30, Silent Menace,” Sky and Telescope 99 (March
2001, downloaded from http://solarsystem. 2000), 54. Note: The article provides an excellent overview of solar storms and
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 103

their potential impact, including terrestrial 25. Foust, “Recommendations Issues for
implications. Revitalizing U.S. Space Industry,” Spaceflight
11. Ibid., 55. Now.
12. William J. Broad,“Radioactive Debris in 26. The Commercial Space Act of 1997,
Space Threatens Satellites in Use,” New York H.R. 1702, 105th Congress, 2nd session.
Times (February 26, 1995), 12. 27. U.S. General Accounting Office,
13. Leonard Davis, “Lethal Litter,” Satellite “National Aero-Space Plane; A Technology
Communications (January 1996), 24. Development and Demonstration Program to
14. Following this mission, the satellites were Build the X-30,” GAO/NSIAD-88-122, April

subsequently recovered and returned to Earth 1988, 14.
via a shuttle. 28. NASA, “NASA Developing Hypersonic
15. William P. Rogers, Neil Armstrong, Technologies; Flight Vehicles only Decades
David C. Acheson, et al., Report of the Presiden- Away,” Press Release, July 22, 2002. Release #
tial Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger 02-182, downloaded from http://www.
Accident (Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, 1986), 201. News.Releases/Previous.News.Releases/02.
16. Yale Jay Lubkin, “What Really Hap- News.Releases/02-07.News.Releases/02-07-
pened,” Defense Science 9 (October/November 22.Hypersonic.Technologies.Developed.
1990), 10. 29. See Jim Martin, “Creating the Platform
17. The Reagan administration had been a of the Future: NASP,” Defense Science (Septem-
proponent of the commercialization of outer ber 1988), 55, 57, 60, for more information
space, especially in the area of the launch indus- about the NASP program, including potential
try. See Edward Ridley Finch, Jr. and Amanda military applications. NASP-based vehicles
Lee Moore, AstroBusiness (Stamford, CT: would not eliminate ELVs since one vehicle
Walden Book Company, 1984), 56–63, for more may not be able to perform all functions equally
information. well.The payload weight and final orbital place-
18. A Pegasus launch would have cost ment (e.g., geostationary) will also help deter-
approximately $7 to 10 million versus millions mine the type of launch vehicle that will be
of more dollars for a standard ELV. used for a given mission.
19. Rick Fleeter, “The Smallsat Invasion,” 30. U.S. General Accounting Office,
Satellite Communications (November 1994), 29. National Aero-Space Plane, 50.
20. Note that salvage missions of this nature 31. NASA Facts OnLine, Marshall Space
are limited,at least at this time,to low Earth orbits. Flight Center, “The Reusable Launch Vehicle
21. The ESA and its member states Technology Program.”
support a wide range of space activities (for ex- 32. A witness to a DC-X flight (launch/
ample, ELV developmental work and space hovering/flight periods), indicated “the landing
exploration). was the way God and Robert Heinlein in-
22. Jeff Foust, “Recommendations Issues tended.” For details, see Marianne J. Dyson, “A
for Revitalizing U.S. Space Industry,” Spaceflight Sign in the Heavens,” Ad Astra 5 (November/
Now (November 18, 2002), downloaded from December 1993), 17. 33. “Lockheed Martin Selected to Build the
mission/. X-33,” NASA Press Release, July 2, 1996.
23. R. T. Gedney, “Foreign Competition 34. X-Prize brochure, 1996.
in Communications Satellites Is Real,” ACTS 35. James M. Gifford, “Going Up,” Satellite
Quarterly 91/1 (February 1992), 1. Communications 20 (February 1996), 33.
24. Despite the mission’s successful deploy- 36. Parts of this section are taken from
ment of a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere, an Michael Mirabito, “Space Program,” in The
antenna mishap reduced its transmission rate Reader’s Companion to American History (New
(for example, of photos). York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991),

1013–1014. Houghton Mifflin kindly extended be a worthy cause. Columbia’s crew: Rick
permission for its use. Husband, William C. McCool, David M.
37. Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson,
Roger Chaffee. Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon.
38. Vladimir Komarov. See J. K. Davies, Space 44. Stephen Gorove, “The 1980 Session of
Exploration (New York: Chambers, 1992), 193. the UN Committee of the Peaceful Uses of
Three other cosmonauts, Georgi Dobrovolsky, Outer Space: Highlights of Positions on Out-
Vladislav Volkov, and Victor Patseysev, died in standing Legal Issues,” Journal of Space Law 8
1971. (spring/fall 1980), 179.

39. Dick Scobee, Mike Smith, Ellison 45. S. Houston Lay and Howard J. Tauben-
Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair, Gregory feld, The Law Relating to Activities of Man in Space
Jarvis, and Christa MacAuliffe. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
40. William Harwood, “Foam Impact Cen- 1970), 41.
tered on Panel 6 of Wing’s Edge,” Spaceflight 46. Ty S. Twibell, “Legal Restraints on the
Now (March 26, 2003), downloaded from Commercialization and Development of Outer Space,” University of Missouri at Kansas City
326hearing. Law Review, (spring, 1997), downloaded from
41. “Report: NASA Removed Advisers LEXIS.
Who Warned on Safety,” Reuters (February 3, 47. Nathan C. Goldman, “Space Colonies:
2003), downloaded from Rights in Space, Obligations to Earth,” in Jill
42. William Harwood, “Shuttle Columbia Steele Meyer, ed., Proceedings of the Seventh
and Crew Lost,” Spaceflight Now (February 2, Annual International Space Development Conference
2003), downloaded from http://spaceflightnow. (San Diego, CA: Univelt, Inc., 1991), 220.
com/shuttle/sts17/030202columbialost. 48. Rights versus the space environment
43. Space flight proponents supported the include the right to bear arms, an important
continued human presence in space, and in U.S. concept. But in space, where a weapon
one instance, adopted a quote from Teddy could physically compromise the integrity of a
Roosevelt: “Life belongs to those who know colony’s protective shielding, this issue becomes
the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who more complex.The same question applies to the
spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the freedom of assembly and the press, among
best know in the end the triumph of high others.This general concept has also been used
achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, as the plot in various works, including
at least fail while daring greatly, so that their Robert A. Heinlein’s science fiction book,
place shall never be with those cold and timid The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (New York:
souls who have never known neither victory Berkeley Publishing Corp., 1968). For more
nor defeat.” From Nathan Miller, Theodore information, see William F. Wu, “Taking
Roosevelt (NY: William Morrow and Co., Inc., Liberties in Space,” Ad Astra 3 (November
1992), 507. Thus, as supporters stated, while 1991), 36.
space exploration can be dangerous, it can also


Abutaha,Ali F. The Space Shuttle:A Basic Problem. neering Education program.The tape covers
This videotape was produced by George shuttle design problems discovered by
Washington University,Washington, DC.This Abutaha after the Challenger disaster.
is a taped lecture conducted by Ali Abutaha Banke, Jim. “Ticket to Ride.” Ad Astra 8
for George Washington’s Continuing Engi- ( January/February 1996), 24–26; Dr. Peter
Satellites: New Developments, Launch Vehicles, and Space Law 105

Diamandis. “The ‘X’ Prize.” Ad Astra 7 interesting overview of the birth and life of a
(May/June 1995), 46–49. Space tourism satellite, as well as the impact of external forces
development and a look at the X-prize and (for example, budgetary appropriations).
aviation examples. Military & Aerospace Electronics covers new
Boeke, Cynthia. “On the Road.” Via Satellite launch vehicle/propulsion developments,
XVI (September 2001), 76–79; John Kross. among other topics. Three articles include:
“Fields of Dreams.” Ad Astra 8 (January/ John Keller. “Avionics Innovation Marks
February 1996), 27–31; Justin Ray. “Delta New Space Shuttle.” (April 1997), 1, 7; John
4 Fleet Goes from ‘Medium’ to ‘Heavy’.” McHale. “Electrical Xenon Ion Engine to

Spaceflight Now (November 12, 2002), down- Power New Millennium Spacecraft.” ( June
loaded from; Renee 1997), 1, 33; John Rhea. “Avionics Key in
Saunders. “Rocket Industry Agenda for the Drive to Cut Space Launch Costs.” (Decem-
Next Millennium.” Satellite Communications ber 1998), 1, 8.
19 (July 1995), 22–24.The U.S. and interna- NASA/JPL. CASPER. (Artificial Intelligence
tional outlooks for spaceports and rockets. Group).Overview of autonomous space-based
Fleeter, Rick. “The Smallsat Invasion,” Satellite missions and other information, http://www
Communications 18 (November 1994), 27–30.
Smallsats. Sky and Telescope. The November 1993 issue
Gedney, Frank, and Frank Gargione. “ACTS: had a series of articles/sidebars that focused
New Services for Communications,” Satellite on the Hubble Telescope and its repair.
Communications 18 (September 1994), 48–54; An example is Richard Tresch Fienberg,
NASA. “Advanced Communications Tech- “Hubble’s Road to Recovery,” 16–22.
nology Satellite (ACTS),” downloaded from Space Law. Numerous articles and books cover ACTS satellite, a space law (the last article covers space debris)
review of its first year of operation, and its and satellite regulatory issues. These include:
influence on other satellite designs.The second Carl J. Cangelosi. “Satellites: Regulatory
article includes retirement information. Summary,” in Andrew F. Inglis, ed. Electronic
Hardin, R. Winn. “Solid-State Lasers Join the Communications Handbook. New York:
Space Race.” Photonics Spectra 32 (June McGraw-Hill Book Company,1988,6.1–6.9;
1998), 114–118; Walter L. Morgan. “Pass It Ty S.Twibell.“Legal Restraints on Commer-
Along.” Satellite Communications 22 (May cialization and Development of Outer
1998), 50–53. Laser applications in satellite Space.” University of Missouri at Kansas City
communication. Law Review. (spring 1997). (65 UMKC L.
Kerrod, Robin. The Illustrated History of NASA: Rev. 589), downloaded from LEXIS; Alan
Anniversary Edition. New York: Gallery Books, Wasser. “A New Law Could Make Privately
1988. A comprehensive and richly illustrated Funded Space Settlement Profitable.” Ad Astra
history of NASA and the U.S. program. 9 (July/August, 1997), 32–35; Christopher D.
Lewis Research Center, NASA. ACTS Quar- Williams. “Space: The Cluttered Frontier.”
terly.A Lewis Research Center newsletter that 1995 Southern Methodist University Journal of
traces the development, launching, and testing Air Law and Commerce. May/June 1995 (60 J.
of the ACTS satellite. As a collection, it is an Air & Com. 1139), downloaded from LEXIS.


Advanced Communications Technology Satellite aeronautical programs. Also the successor to

(ACTS): A NASA satellite that is a proto- the NACA.
type for the future commercial fleet. Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Program:
Arianespace: A commercial satellite launch Program designed to create the next-
agency. generation U.S. launch vehicle.
Challenger: The space shuttle that was lost to Smallsat: A small, relatively inexpensive satellite.
equipment and systems failures. Space Shuttle: The world’s first refurbishable

Launch Vehicles: Both expendable (ELV) and piloted spacecraft. A shuttle can carry a
piloted vehicles used to launch satellites and variety of payloads to a low Earth orbit.
space probes. Two launch organizations have X-Prize: Echoing back to an earlier era, a
included NASA and Arianespace, and other proposed monetary prize to advance reusable
countries have either developed, or are devel- launch vehicle technology (for example, to
oping, their own capabilities. develop space tourism).
NASA: The U.S. space agency given the
mandate to oversee the civilian space and
8 Wireless Technology
and Mobile

Wireless technology comes in different instance, have the potential problem of

flavors. As implied by the name, you are not obtaining clearances to lay the cable.
physically connected with or tied to a com- On a negative note, a microwave trans-
munications line. One application supports mission could be affected by heavy rain. An
data exchanges in a building while another FCC license has also been required and, as
extends this relay to another country. In a line-of-sight medium, the transmitter and
essence, the wireless industry embraces an receiver must be in each other’s line of view.
assortment of technologies and applications Another wireless system uses an infrared
you can tap to solve your communications laser to relay voice, video, and computer
needs. information through the air. It is cost effec-
For our discussion, we also focus on sys- tive and can support a wide and secure com-
tems that support mobile business and per- munications channel. An FCC license is not
sonal communication.These include cellular required, and operations could be set up in
telephones (cell phones), personal commu- areas where microwave communication may
nications services (PCS), certain satellite not be feasible.1 A laser relay is, however, line
relays, the virtual office, and wireless local of sight. Smog and other atmospheric con-
area networks (WLANS). But before we ditions could also variably affect it.
cover these topics, other wireless systems are Wireless technology has also been used
quickly reviewed for a full coverage of this by the cable industry.Wireless relays existed
universe. for a number of years under the aegis of
the Multichannel Multipoint Distribution
Service (MMDS).2
WIRELESS SYSTEMS Finally, the communication transactions
supported by some of these wireless systems
Microwave, Laser, and Cable have been conducted as bypass operations.
Microwave systems have handled long, An organization bypasses, or goes around,
short, and intracity relays. A microwave the traditional public communications
system is cost effective and can accommo- networks.3
date a range of information with a wide Thanks, in part, to the divestiture of
channel capacity. Microwave applications AT&T in the early 1980s, a new dawn
may also be easier to implement than fiber- greeted the telecommunications world. In-
optic or copper-based ones.You do not, for dustry segments once dominated by AT&T


• We conduct business from our cars and

can use the same telephone to call home.
• Cell phones and pagers are no longer rel-
egated to only a few professions.
• Satellite-based relays can support every-
day communication.

A goal is to free us from physical wires—

constraints. As stated by one author

when describing such an application, “PCS

is a new wireless mobile technology for
voice and data communication to and from
people, not locations [my emphasis].”5 Conse-
quently, we may no longer be bound to a
physical space to communicate or to ex-
change information. Communication would
be centered on us rather than an office or
other site.
Figure 8.1 became open markets for sales and leasing
An over-the-air opportunities.
(atmospheric) optical Companies also became more responsible CELLULAR TELEPHONE
communications system. for their own communications systems. AND PERSONAL
It can accommodate a Various intracity and intercity links were COMMUNICATION SERVICES
range of information.
established that could be more responsive
(Courtesy of ICS, Inc.)
to an organization’s unique communication The cellular telephone industry, a key wire-
needs. Thus, a company could more readily less player, is a communications fixture. A
react to new communication demands since specified geographical region is divided into
it used private or leased links.4 small physical areas called cells, each of which
The latter concept is a key one. Com- is equipped with a low-power transmission
munications systems will conform to our system.
communication needs and not the other In a typical operation, as you approach
way around. a cell’s boundary while driving, the signal
between the phone and the transmitter be-
comes weaker.At this point, the new cell the
car is approaching basically picks up the
connection.The telephone is then switched
In the context of our present discussion,
over to a different frequency, to avoid poten-
mobile wireless systems could be viewed
tial interference with adjacent cells. This
as personal bypass systems—the important
procedure is automatically completed by a
concept for us is mobility. Various techno-
sophisticated control network.
logical and social changes have combined
Cellular technology has also been inte-
to make us a society on the go, a mobile
grated with portable PCs for remote data
society. Our information and communica-
relays. In a related development, digital oper-
tions tools are following suit.
ations support a cleaner signal, for both data
• Powerful notebook computers are smaller and voice, and provide for a more secure
and weigh less. (private) relay.6
Wireless Technology and Mobile Communication 109

The cellular technology universe ex- energy. Critics contend that with extended
ploded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. use, a cell phone could cause a biological
New price breaks made it possible to replace and, potentially, a health effect. Proponents
your conventional home telephone service argue that no such link exists.
with a cell phone. Features also abound. A key measurement, which could help
These range from color screens to Internet determine a cell phone’s potential impact, is
search/e-mail capabilities to functioning as the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). Accord-
a worldwide phone. For the latter, different ing to the FCC, the “SAR is a value that
international standards exist. With the ap- corresponds to the relative amount of RF

propriate phone, you could use the same energy absorbed in the head of a user of a
unit in more than one country or continent. wireless handset.The FCC limit from public
As briefly covered in Chapter 3, cell phone exposure from cellular telephone [as of this
and PDA capabilities have also been married writing] is an SAR level of 1.6 watts per
in some units. kilogram . . .”7 Cell phones are tested and
Like the computing field, these techno- are assigned an SAR rating—as the SAR
logical enhancements did not come with value decreases, so too does the possibility
a physical price tag. Earlier phones were of a potential adverse effect.8
very bulky—you could not fit one in your It is important to repeat that, as of this
pocket unless you wore a trench coat. writing, a direct link has not been established
Newer models, which are also more sophis- between cell phone use and health effects.
ticated, are compact, fairly lightweight, and But since the data are also not conclusive,
have a longer battery life than their prede- it makes sense to take some precautions
cessors. until the facts become clearer. You can, for
The last point is important.Taking a page instance, select a cell phone with a lower
from a systems approach, battery enhance- SAR value. These figures are available on
ments have helped fuel the cell phone, note- different Internet sites.9 The FCC web site
book computer, and other markets. Batteries ( is another valuable informa-
are now more efficient with enhanced ser- tion resource. Besides offering information
vice capabilities. As such, they contribute to about RF safety in general, you can look-
the continued growth of the portable com- up your phone’s SAR value by its FCC I.D.
munications market. number.10 A second option is to keep the
While the cell phone picture is rosy, there phone unit away from your head by using
are limiting factors. Some may also affect a headset or an earpiece, much like a com-
other communications systems and include ponent you may use with a portable CD
interference created by terrain and human- player.11 Manufacturers are also designing
made obstructions (e.g., buildings). In an- safer phones, including two piece units
other example, if a company is creating a where the transmitting component is at a
new network, its initial coverage area may greater distance from your head.
not be as extensive as an older, but more In a related health issue, cell phone use
established, competing system. has caused numerous car accidents. Some
Another factor is a potential health drivers focus on holding/talking on the
concern. Analogous to the situation with phone rather than on road conditions. In
earlier computer monitors, some experts response, new regulations have gradually
believe the cell phone is a potential health been adopted. In some locales, you must use
hazard. As a transmitting device, the cell a “hands free” accessory if you want to talk
phone produces radio frequency (RF) while driving.12

lular carriers must comply with more detailed

technical and operational requirements, such as
rules regarding mandatory provision of analog
service, licensing, and interference criteria, that
PCS licensees are not subject to.14
PCS companies have another advantage.
As the new kid on the block, technologi-
cally speaking, a company could use the
“newest network and digital technolo-

gies.”15 As such, the company was better po-

sitioned to tap technological advances and
their complementary applications since it
was not bound by an existing infrastructure.
In fact, one early PCS promotional cam-
paign highlighted the service’s digital roots,
which would make for a more secure relay,
in contrast with its analog cellular competi-
tors.16 But over time, cellular telephone
companies extensively upgraded and
enhanced their own networks to level out
parts of this playing field.
As of this writing, the average user who
opts for a mobile communication service
may not even know the type of technology
he or she is using. In many instances, the
term “cell phone” had become a universal
moniker regardless of the technology base.

Other Developments
Figure 8.2
Personal communication services (PCS), The PCS industry experienced another,
A set-up to test a
for its part, has been defined by the FCC as somewhat new development. Traditionally,
mobile phone’s SAR
characteristics and a plot “a family of mobile or portable radio com- segments of the communications industry
that highlights this munications services” designed to meet the have used the airwaves for free. But to help
information. (Courtesy “communications requirements of people defray the budget deficit, auctions were ini-
PCTEST Engineering on the move.”13 A digital service, the pre- tiated for specific U.S. PCS licenses. Com-
Lab., Inc.) mise, much like the cell phone, has been to panies paid for the right to use the spectrum
support mobile, wireless communication. allocations.
PCS companies also have some advan- The international mobile communica-
tages over their cell phone competition. For tions industry was also kicked into higher
example, gear by the development of advanced
PCS licensees have greater leeway to choose the mobile wireless—third generation (3G)—
types of technologies and services they may systems. Such systems support enhanced
provide than do cellular carriers. . . . Although services, including high speed data access
cellular licensees may also provide alternative and communications devices that could tap
technologies as well as wireless fixed services, cel- terrestrial and satellite networks.17
Wireless Technology and Mobile Communication 111

Figure 8.3
A space and earth-based
communication operation
can support a
sophisticated personal
communications network.
The various elements are
highlighted in this
diagram, including the
satellites and personal

communications device
(subscriber unit; right
bottom hand corner).
(Courtesy of Motorola
Inc.; Iridium.)

While spectrum allocation issues have up modem and DSL/cable modem access?
delayed U.S. operations, they have been These questions are also pertinent for digital
deployed on a broader level in the interna- television and other application areas.
tional market. In one example, “the launch
of a 3G service . . . by NTT DoCoMo in
Japan . . . allows users to access the Internet Satellite Communications
at speeds of up to 384 kbps, transmit and Satellites are powerful long distance and
download video clips, and send large point-to-multipoint communications tools.
data files quickly.”18 The U.S. market Satellites also support mobile and personal
actually received a boost for enhanced relays, and this development is a space-
wireless systems in 2003 following FCC based extension of mobile communications
action.19 technology.
When fully implemented, we may be able In one configuration, a series of small
to retrieve a range of data types with satellites are launched and placed in low
international-compatible mobile devices. Earth orbits (LEOs).20 This constellation of
But will consumers become willing buyers satellites can provide global coverage while
since enhanced services typically carry their low altitudes support portable trans-
enhanced price tags? Or like cell phones, mitters and receivers on Earth. Applications
will it take a number of years and reduced include data/voice communication over
rates to promote its broadbased adoption? small terminals and service for regions that
Or could two markets evolve, basic and are not covered by terrestrial communica-
enhanced mobile services, analogous to dial- tions networks.21

Different companies have stepped for- Virtual Office and Wireless Local
ward in this field. Iridium, for instance, was Area Networks
set-up as a multisatellite network that would Organizations have either experimented
function as an interconnected Earth- and with or have adopted the virtual office for
space-based venture—you could talk with a elements of their workforce.25 If you are a
friend half a world away through portable, salesperson, you may no longer be confined
mobile telephones.22 to an office. You may be equipped with a
All in all, it is an interesting concept, espe- portable computer and other information
cially in light of the history of our satellite and communications tools so you can work

system. As you may recall, LEO satellites on the road.The virtual office has also been
were generally abandoned in favor of their considered a “variant of telecommuting,”
geostationary counterparts for communica- discussed in a later chapter.26 But because of
tions applications.Yet the new generation of some of the virtual office’s wireless possibil-
LEO satellites, when properly configured ities, it has been placed in this chapter.
and coordinated, can deliver certain satellite Through the virtual office, a salesperson
services right into our hands. It is almost can work directly with clients in the field
like Dick Tracy and the wrist radio come to and, depending on the application, could tap
life. either wireless or wire-based communica-
But there have been some problems. tions systems. The former will also become
Competition with established terrestrial sys- more important as they are refined.You can
tems as well as higher service costs in some be untethered, that is, free from constraints
quarters (e.g., for a telephone call) have imposed by physical wires and connections.
caused some financial turbulence in this In one sense, your communications tools
market.23 Nevertheless, satellite-based mo- become as mobile as you.
bile services remain a viable communication Besides serving the client base better, a
option for various reasons, including the fol- virtual office can help cut real estate costs
lowing: because fewer offices have to be set up
and maintained.27 If properly implemented,
• system enhancements have improved and a company could enhance its productivity
expanded satellite services; while cutting costs. The key to success,
• a satellite can reach remote and undevel- though, is proper implementation and ad-
oped regions; dressing key issues.These include securing a
• by extension, a satellite can support highly suitable communications channel, offering
specialized and targeted market groups employee training, and providing clerical
(e.g., maritime industry); and and other logistical support.
• other initiatives, including the Memoran- Companies have also established special
dum of Understanding regarding Global work sites to provide “an office away from
Mobile Personal Communications by the office for transient workers.”28 For
Satellite (GMPCS-MoU), have promised Xerox, this meant creating a large work-
to facilitate international satellite-based space where employees could meet, ex-
mobile services.24 change ideas, and plug-in their PCs when
they’re not on the road.
The upshot of these developments? Over A wireless local area network (WLAN),
time, it may become easier and less expen- for its part, is just what it sounds like. You
sive to use a satellite system for mobile and can tap a LAN’s resources without a direct,
global communications needs. physical connection. In one application,
Wireless Technology and Mobile Communication 113

doctors and nurses working in a hospital standard has broad industry support,
can readily gain access to information.29 In which should lead to equipment interoper-
another application, you can go to a meeting ability.32 Bluetooth technology, embedded
and retrieve pertinent data, or record notes, in communications and computer equip-
without physically connecting your PC ment, could also make these transactions
or other device. Educational institutions are transparent to users.
also using the technology to provide their Finally, you may run across the term Wi-
students and faculty with access to informa- Fi or wireless fidelity.Wi-Fi is a more recent,
tion throughout a campus. and now popularized name, for a wireless

As of this writing, wireless components network that taps the IEEE 802.11 family
are more expensive than their wired coun- of standards.33 There is also a Wi-Fi Alliance,
terparts. But the afforded flexibility is valu- which helps promote and certify equipment
able, especially for applications that demand interoperability.34 One goal is to make wire-
mobility and for facilities that cannot be less networking ubiquitous in the workplace
readily wired for conventional LANs.30 and at home.
It may also be used for locations where
you can only install a limited number
of data ports, yet must support numerous CONCLUSION
Another potential concern is security. Wireless systems may free you from having
Since data are relayed through the air, the to plug your computer or telephone into an
data are easier to intercept. While special outlet for certain communications applica-
encryption techniques may make the data tions. They can also work with traditional
unintelligible to the average user, other communications systems, as may be the case
individuals could use software to “sniff ” with a virtual office. Even though you may
your network and, subsequently, to break the be untethered, a conventional telephone
encryption—the data are intercepted and line could be used for data relay. In many
stolen.31 ways, the wireless and wired worlds are
It is important to remember that a wire- complementary.
less network’s advantages also make it more Wireless technology may also allow you
vulnerable. But as is the case with other to receive e-mail while in the field and to
databased applications, stronger security relay data to your office. You could poten-
measures are in development. tially tap into a network, dial a specific
Wireless technology also became a house- number, and reach another person, wherever
hold tool in the early 2000s. In a typical he or she may be, via a portable telephone.
operation, you could use a wireless system It is like super call forwarding, free of the
to connect your household computer to constraints imposed by wires, distance, and
your data network. Like a commercial oper- location.
ation, you could then use your notebook or New developments will also continue to
other computer untethered. refine our wireless systems. In one example,
The same era saw the broader introduc- very small cells, called microcells,“are being
tion of Bluetooth technology. Designed designed to take care of downtown users on
as a cost-effective personal area network, city streets, and picocells, for inside office
Bluetooth supports comparatively low data buildings.”35 Essentially, our communica-
rate/short distance communication, poten- tions world could be subdivided into
tially between an assortment of devices.The smaller, physical regions (e.g., a building or

floor in a building) to handle our increasing Finally, the wireless field also illustrates
wireless traffic. the interdependence of technological devel-
On the flip side, wireless communication opments.The launching of an Iridium-type
carries a price. Wireless components can network serves as an example.The technol-
be more expensive, connections can be ogy now exists to build sophisticated small
sporadic, and security concerns continue to satellites that are matched by portable tele-
surface.36 Much like earlier computer mon- phones and other communications devices.
itors, questions have also been raised about This entire system, in turn, is influenced by
cell phones and potential health risks. the satellite launch industry. Without cost-

From a nontechnical standpoint, wireless effective launch vehicles, the deployment of

technology has another implication. If a call a constellation of satellites could be prohib-
can be routed to you, and if your home itively expensive.
becomes a workplace, what impact will this Thus, as introduced in Chapter 1, although
have on your individual privacy? Will the you can examine individual applications in
“electronic clutter” become too pervasive?37 isolation, it may also be important to explore
Is it necessary to have access to information related areas.If you do not,you might miss key
at every waking moment? Or do we connections that could have a major impact
also require quiet, reflective periods, free on an industry’s success. In this example, cost-
from distractions, even in a business setting? effective launches may play a role in an
How do you strike a balance between the Iridium-type system’s future. So too does its
two? acceptance by the targeted user group(s).


1. This has included high-density urban areas report notes the importance of differentiating
where physical obstacles and the lack of licenses between a biological versus a health effect. It also
have restricted microwave communication. covers this issue in a comprehensive fashion.The
2. Mark Hallinger, “Wireless Cable Ready report supports mobile communication propo-
for the World,” TV Technology 13 (July 1995), 1. nents who believe the phones are essentially safe.
3. Dwight B. Davis, “Making Sense of the 9. Cnet has kept such a list on its site.
Telecommunications Circus,” High Technology 10. As of this writing, the URL is:
(September 1985), 20. FCC I.D. # is on
4. These also include fiber and copper lines. the telephone; you may have to remove the
5. Lou Manuta, “PCS’s Promise Is in Satel- battery to find it.
lites,” PCS (September 1995), 14. 11. This may, in turn, subject that part of the
6. Robert Corn-Revere, “Cellular Phones: body to higher RF energy—but the head has
Only the Illusion of Privacy,” Network World 6 been the primary concern in the typical report.
(August 28, 1989), 36. Note: Data relays could 12. These include headsets with mics for
also be intercepted. talking.
7. FCC. “Radio Frequency Safety-Cellular 13. From an August 1992 FCC Notice of
Telephone Specific Absorption Rate (SAR),” Proposed Rule Making and Tentative Decision;
downloaded from GEN Docket #90–314, prepared by Scott
8. Health Council of the Netherlands, Loftesness, August 25, 1992, downloaded from
“Mobile Telephones,” January 28, 2002. The CompuServe.
Wireless Technology and Mobile Communication 115

14. FCC, “Cellular Operations,” Novem- while Protecting Against Interference to

ber 19, 2002, downloaded from http:// Radionavigation Services,” Report No. IN 99- 9, February 25, 1999, downloaded from
15. Maxine Carter-Lome, “Cellular in the
Lead, But Can’t Stay Ahead,” PCS Today (Sep- eleases/1999/nrin9010.html.
tember 1995): 8. 25. Michael Nadeua, “Not Lost in Space,”
16. Harry A. Jessell, “Sprint Unveils U.S. Byte 20 (June 1995): 50.
PCS Service,” Broadcasting & Cable (November 26. Osman Eldib and Daniel Minoli, Telecom-
20, 1995): 47. muting (Norwood, MA:Artech House, 1995), 1.

17. FCC. “Third Generation Wireless, 27. Patrick Flanagan, “Wireless Data:
3G Information,” downloaded from www.fcc. Closing the Gap Between Promise and Reality,”
gov/3G/. Telecommunications 28 (March 1994): 28.
18. FCC, “In the Matter of Service 28. Nadeua, “Not Lost in Space,” 52.
Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the Note: Much like telecommuting, interpersonal
1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz Bands,” WT Docket communication between employees was still
No. 02-353, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, important.
adopted: November 7, 2002, Released: 29. Elisabeth Horwitt, “What’s Wrong with
November 22, 2002, downloaded from Wireless,” Network World 12 (November 13, 1995): 65.
attachmatch/FCC-02-305A1.txt. 30. Flanagan, “Wireless Data,” 30.
19. “FCC Reallocates Spectrum for 31. Sniff refers to monitoring network
New Wireless Services,” Press Release, traffic. Please see
January 30, 2003, downloaded from TERM/s/sniffer.html for more information. The webopedia is also an excellent
attachmatch/DOC-230754A1.pdf. information source about computer/informa-
20. There are also different categories of tion technologies.
LEOs. Part of the distinction has to do with a 32. For more information, please see For-
satellite’s size and relay capabilities (e.g., signal mulasys, “The Basics of Wireless,” downloaded
strength). from
21. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Basics-of-Wireless_Formulasys.pdf.
“Orbcomm Signs Marketing Agreement in Five 33. Wi-Fi Alliance, “Wi-Fi Overview,”
More Countries,” news release. downloaded from
22. Jim Foley, “Iridium: Key to Worldwide tion/why_Wi-Fi.asp?TID=2.
Cellular Communications,” Telecommunications 34. For more information, you can go
25 (October 1991): 23. Note: The ground-based to the Alliance’s web site,
sector would handle, in part, billing and the
necessary authorization to use the system. This 35. Robert G. Winch, Telecommunication
would be provided through gateways. Transmission Systems (New York: McGraw-Hill,
23. Alan Pearce, “Is Satellite Telephony 1998), 363.
Worth Saving,” Wireless Integration (September/ 36. Horwitt, “What’s Wrong with Wireless,”
October, 1999): 19. Iridium, for one, went 64.
through such a financial period. 37. Patrick M. Reilly,“The Dark Side,” Wall
24. “FCC Proposes Steps to Implement Street Journal (November 16, 1992): technology
‘GMPCS-MOU,’ Facilitating Satellite Services supplement on “Going Portable,” R12.


Bernard, Josef. “Inside Cellular Telephone.” Flanagan, Patrick. “Personal Communications

Radio-Electronics 11 (September 1987), 53–55, Services:The Long Road Ahead.” Telecommu-
93; Jim Rendon. “It’s Not Just a Phone, It’s a nications 30 (February 1996): 23–28; Rob
Lifestyle.” Mbusiness (May 2001), 52–53. An Frieden. “Satellite-Based Personal Commu-
earlier overview of this field and one of a nication Services.” Telecommunication 27
series of articles about cell phone use/devel- (December 1993): 25–28; Susan O’Keefe.
opment in Finland, respectively. “The Wireless Boom.” Telecommunications

Brewin, Bob.“Watch Out for Wireless Rogues.” 32 (November 1998): 30–36. Personal
ComputerWorld 36 (July 15, 2002): 36; John communications services: terrestrial and
McHale. “Wireless Devices Link Soldiers on satellite-based.
the Digital Battlefield.” Military & Aerospace Formulasys. “The Basic of Wireless;
Electronics (January 2001): 22–25, 29; Ellen A White Paper,” downloaded from
Messmer.“Feds to Clamp Down on Wireless; Tim Kridel and Meg
LANS.” Network World 19 (August 19, 2002): McGinity. “The Trouble with Bluetooth.”
12; Florence Olsen. “The Wireless Revolu- The Net Economy (January 8, 2001): 44–46;
tion.” The Chronicles of Higher Education Verizon. “How Bluetooth Short Range
(October 13, 2000):A59–A62; Marisa Picker. Radio Systems Work,” downloaded from
“It’s a Wireless World.” Mobile Computing & Information about Blue-
Communications 10 (May 1999): 95–101; tooth. The first document also presents an
Jeffrey R. Young. “Are Wireless Networks overview of wireless technology/systems.
the Wave of the Future?” Chronicle of Higher Foster, Kenneth R, and John E. Moulder. “Are
Education XLV (February 5, 1999):A25–A26. Mobile Phones Safe.” IEEE Spectrum
Wireless technologies, applications, and Online, downloaded from www.spectrum.
Caldwell, Bruce, and Bruce Gambon. “The FCC. “Information on Human Exposure to
Virtual Office.” Information Week (January Radio Frequency Fields from Cellular and
22, 1996): 33–36, 40. Telecommuting, PCS Radio Transmitters,” downloaded from
requirements, and is it appropriate for;
you? Reuters. “Italian Study Raises Concerns
CIT Publications. “A Wireless Decade: About Mobile Phones.” October 24, 2002,
A European Survey.” Telecommunications 32 downloaded from
(September 1998): 70–79. Comprehensive com/news?tmpl=tory&u=/nm/20021023/
examination of wireless systems in Europe. sc_nmhealth_mobilephon. Mobile phones
Individual countries are highlighted. and potential health issues.
Dornan,Andy.“Wireless Optics: Fiber Is Cheap, Grambs, Peter, and Patrick Zerbib. “Caring for
but Space Is Free.” Network Magazine 17 Customers in a Global Marketplace.” Satellite
(September 2002): 28–32; Michael Fink. Communications (October 1998): 24–30; Cor-
“Lasers over Manhattan.” Communications porate Information News Center. Iridium
News (May 1994): 30; Dick Guttendorf. Press Release: “Iridium LLC Investors
“Flash Gordon Meets Ma Bell.” Communica- Commit Funding to Ensure Service During
tions Industries Report (September 1995): 26. Restructuring Discussions.” (December 9,
Over-the-air laser communications systems. 1999); Iridium Press Release, “About
Eldib, Osman, and Daniel Minoli. Telecommuting. Iridium-Our Story” (Corporate Fact Sheet),
Norwood, MA: Artech House, 1995. downloaded from
Excellent and comprehensive examination of iri_corp-story.asp?storyid=2; “Iridium Con-
telecommuting. stellation Finishes Launch Deployment.” Ad
Wireless Technology and Mobile Communication 117

Astra 10 (July/August 1998): 12.A look at the 2110–2170 MHz Bands,” July 22, 2002,
Iridium system; from coverage of its opera- downloaded from An
tion to its financial restructuring. excellent overview of the development of 3G
Meeks, Brock N. “Spectrum Auctions Pull in U.S. services and key issues in regard to spec-
$7.7 Billion.” Inter@ctive Week 2 (March trum allocations.
1995): 7. PCS auctions. Vitaliano, Franco. “How Work Becomes
NTIA, “An Assessment of the Viability of Remotely Possible.” BackOffice (January
Accommodating Advanced Mobile Wireless 1996): 43–51. Portable technologies; includes
(3G) Systems in the 1710–1770 MHz and a list of terms.


Bypass System: A private/leased communica- by location. In one configuration, satellites

tions system that bypasses standard commer- are placed in low earth orbits.
cial and public systems. Third Generation (3G) Systems: A newer gener-
Cellular Telephone: A personal communications ation of mobile communications systems
tool based on frequency reuse and a moni- that will support enhanced communications
toring design. applications.
Microwave and Laser: Two wireless, line-of-sight Virtual Office: Instead of working in a tradi-
communications systems. tional office, you are equipped with a PC
Personal Communications Services (PCSs): A and mobile communications tools so you can
family of mobile services designed to meet work/communicate from the field. Sites have
the communication requirements of people also been designed to serve this workforce
on the move. Computer-to-computer and when not in the field (for example, a place
voice relays can be supported. to plug in your PC).
Personal Satellite Communications: A new gener- Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): As
ation of satellite can deliver personal com- implied, you can tap a LAN’s resources
munications services—you are not restricted without a direct, physical connection.
9 Information Storage:
The Optical Disk
and Holography

The optical disk emerged as an important systems, including members of the CD-
information storage tool in the 1980s. A ROM and DVD families, are recordable.
popular application is the compact disk Both categories of disks share some
(CD), a small, round disk that stores digital characteristics:
audio information in the form of micro-
scopic pits.To retrieve this information, you 1. Information can be stored in the form
place a CD in a player.1 A laser subsequently of pits, or in erasable systems, through
reads back or recovers the information. other techniques.This information is also
A laser’s light scans the CD, and its beam digital, with the major exception of the
is reflected to different degrees, in terms of videodisk.
its strength, when it passes over the pits and 2. Optical disks are fairly rugged since the
unpitted areas called lands. A light-sensitive stored information is physically protected
detector picks up the reflected light, an from fingerprints and scratches.The laser
optical representation of the stored infor- is also focused beneath a disk’s surface
mation.After processing, the final output for at the information layer, so dust and
a CD is an analog signal. other minor surface obstructions may not
The CD and other optical disks are also adversely affect a playback.
constructed like sandwiches: These include 3. A disk is not subject to wear because the
the information layer with the code of pits playback is conducted by a beam of light.
and a reflective metallic layer. The latter The same disk can be played multiple
enables the read or playback operation. times with no discernible loss of quality.
4. Disks are not indestructible, however. For
example, deep scratches can affect a play-
OPTICAL DISK OVERVIEW back. Some older disks may also have a
manufacturing defect—corrosion of a
For our discussion, the growing optical disk disk’s metallic layer.2
family falls into two categories: nonrecord- 5. Optical disks are high-capacity storage
able and recordable media. CDs, conven- media. This is partly a reflection of a
tional Compact Disk-Read Only Memory laser’s capability to distinguish between
(CD-ROM) and Digital Versatile or Video tightly recorded information tracks.
disks (DVDs) are nonrecordable. Write 6. The different systems incorporate sop-
Once, Read Many (WORM) and erasable histicated error-detection and checking


Figure 9.1
We have the tools to
produce professional
quality recordings, which
in this example, includes
an audio CD. (Courtesy
of Sonic Foundry; CD

schemes to ensure the information’s inte- a predefined playback order. These func-
grity. But the potential impact of errors tions, in addition to a disk’s small size,
has made this process more critical for a durability, and capacity have contributed
disk that stores data than for a CD. to its popularity with consumers and radio
7. Like a hard disk, an optical disk is a stations.
random access device. It provides As described in Chapter 2, the CD indus-
almost immediate access to the stored try is also governed by an established set of
information. standards.This factor played an instrumental
8. The optical storage field is expanding. role in the CD’s widespread acceptance.
Even though some formats may disap- The CD has, however, been faced with
pear, the list continues to grow. potential competitors over the years, ranging
from digital audiotape (DAT) to MP3
players. A DAT player uses digital tapes
NONRECORDABLE MEDIA while an MP3 player, through compression,
can store and play back music downloaded
Compact Disks from your computer. Digital audio is
A CD is a long-playing, high-fidelity audio covered in greater depth in a later chapter.
storage medium, and its excellent sound
reproduction qualities are a reflection of its
digital and optical heritage. Interfering noise Compact Disk-Read Only Memory
is reduced, and a CD player, equipped with (CD-ROM)
a microprocessor, allows you to quickly A CD-ROM is a high-capacity data storage
access any of the disk’s tracks and to select medium. A CD-ROM, which looks like a
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 123

CD but can store 600+ megabytes of data, Data Center and other sources, you could
is preloaded with information and/or pro- explore Venus and Mars from your arm-
grams. A CD-ROM is also interfaced with chair by viewing information generated
a computer via a CD-ROM drive and from the Magellan and Viking Orbiter
special driver software. missions, respectively.3
An early CD-ROM release was the • Complex software collections can be
electronic text version of Grolier’s Academic created on a single or multiple disks.
American Encyclopedia. This disk highlighted This may include a desktop publishing
the CD-ROM’s storage properties: An program and an extensive clip art collec-
entire encyclopedia of some 30,000 articles tion. Clip art is a library of drawings and
was recorded on a single disk, with room pictures you can legally use. An earlier
to spare. It was also integrated in a PC application included a bundle of several
environment, and word processing programs thousand images with Corel Systems
could retrieve information from the ency- Corporation’s program Corel Draw, a
clopedia. More recent encyclopedias also high-end illustration program.The floppy

incorporate sound, graphics, and animations. disk equivalent was approximately 500+
Another interesting earlier disk, which disks.4
spawned other releases, was the PC-SIG • The new generation of interactive games
CD-ROM. The PC-SIG has been a source has a large storage appetite, especially
of public domain and user-supported soft- if the games incorporate digital audio,
ware (shareware) written for IBM PCs. video, or computer animations. CD-
The programs have covered everything from ROM media can, however, accommodate
computer languages to games, and the entire them.
library could fill 1000 or more floppy disks.
This library was transferred to a CD- CD-ROMs are also valuable for libraries,
ROM. This type of application was and which typically face storage and budgetary
remains a valuable one for PC owners, since problems. CD-ROMs are cost effective, can
the CD-ROM is inexpensive when com- be used with a PC to search for specific
pared to an equivalent floppy disk library. information, and can save space.
This factor has made the CD-ROM an ideal These types of databases have, however,
distribution medium for computer software been replaced to a great extent by online
collections. Other applications include the systems. In this situation, a library contracts
following: with a vendor to gain access to specific
data pools, typically through an Internet
• Information pools can be compiled connection.
ranging from telephone number compi-
lations to U.S. street maps.
• Companies have adopted CD-ROMs to Compact Disk-Interactive
complement their print lines. For soft- The compact disk-interactive (CD-I) was
ware, a CD-ROM could hold tutorials originally designed as a stand-alone unit
and sample files referred to in the manual. equipped with an internal computer.5 A goal
Their size may have precluded their use was to make a CD-I system attractive to con-
when floppy disks were the primary dis- sumers since it was self-contained, simple to
tribution vehicle. operate, and could be used with a television
• Spacecraft images have been made avail- set. In one example, a Louis Armstrong disk
able.Through the National Space Science could be used with a CD player, but when

Figure 9.2 for a format war, much like the earlier Beta
A CD-I disk.The art and VHS scenario. But the companies and
of the Czars: St. manufacturers that had a stake in this field
Petersburg and the reached a compromise in late 1995.
Treasures of the A DVD’s storage capacity far exceeds
Hermitage. An example
a conventional CD-ROM or CD. This
of the rich pool of
information electronic
capability offers producers and consumers
publishers have tapped. numerous advantages:
(Courtesy of the Philips
Corp., photo credit 1. Unlike CD-ROMs, high quality audio-
Richard Foertsh.) video cuts could be used in a game,
educational title, or other multimedia
2. It’s a boon for computer data storage—
a single disk can replace a collection of

conventional CD-ROMs.
3. Consumers can view movies with sup-
port for wide screen television sets,
advanced television systems, and other

The DVD also replaced videodisks, the

played on a CD-I system, you could also pioneer product of the optical disk family.
view relevant graphics and retrieve informa- The videodisk was produced in different
tion about Armstrong’s work.6 formats, including a discontinued nonopti-
cal version manufactured by RCA.
Videodisks primarily supported two appli-
Photo Compact Disk cations. In the first, the consumer category,
Kodak entered this industry with the Photo high quality movies were distributed. It also
CD system. A disk could store up to 100 supported a digital audio signal, even though
pictures that could subsequently be used in the picture information was analog. In the
a compatible CD-ROM drive, or for con- second category, videodisks were interfaced
sumers, in a player for viewing on a televi- with PCs to create a sophisticated interac-
sion set. The same system could also play tive environment.
audio CDs. While a videodisk was a high quality dis-
The capability to play different disks was tribution vehicle for movies, it never really
an important one and an industry-wide caught on in the consumer market—the
development. Instead of buying multiple DVD has. Players range in sophistication,
players and/or PC-based drives, you use one and you can buy a sophisticated Surround-
machine. This is particularly significant in Sound system, with multiple speakers, that
view of the growing number of formats.7 will produce a high quality audio playback
when viewing a movie or listening to a CD.
A DVD’s data storage capability also
Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk enables producers to bundle additional in-
Designed for commercial and consumer formation with a disk.This ranges from mul-
applications, the DVD was initially headed tiple language tracks to additional footage
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 125

that might have been cut out of a movie’s include the DVD-R, DVD+R, the DVD-
theatrical release. When these features are RAM, and the DVD-RW.9 Their primary
combined with a high quality playback advantage? A storage capacity of 2 or more
that exceeds the typical videotape-based gigabytes. This capability makes a DVD,
system, DVD players flooded the home which is the size of a CD, a highly portable
and professional markets in the early mass storage medium. You can record
2000s. movies, data, a library of audio-video clips,
and complex animations.You can also create
an interactive interface a viewer can use for
various operations.
When designing a typical disk, options
Compact Disk-Recordable and
include the following:
Compact Disk-Rewritable
A CD-Recordable (CD-R) enables you to
• Selecting the audio-video clips (e.g., TV
store your own information on a disk. The
shows or a movie) you want to include

CD-R is a write-once, permanent medium.
on a disk.
After the information is recorded, it cannot
• Creating on-screen menus that can
be erased.
help guide a user through the stored
The CD-R has two important advan-
tages. It is a cost-effective and high capacity
• Creating on-screen buttons that are used
storage medium. CD-Rs can also tap the
to select and view, for example, a scene in
enormous CD-ROM drive universe. CD-
a movie.
Rs you create can be used with conven-
• Implementing a sophisticated audio
tional CD-ROM players. In one example,
you can create or “burn” an audio disk for
• Testing the DVD and its links. Using your
playback on a CD player.
computer, you can test different functions,
In contrast, the CD-Rewritable (CD-
through a simulated on-screen DVD
RW) functions much like a high capacity
player, before you spend time/money in
floppy disk. You can reuse a disk multiple
creating an actual disk.
times, storing new and erasing old data.
• Compressing, for instance, the video
The price for media and recorders has
program that will be stored on the disk.
dropped over time, making them ubiquitous
As described in a later chapter, digital
home and business fixtures. The software
audio and video information have en-
that drives the recording process has also
ormous storage appetites. Compression
improved. This has enhanced a recording’s
techniques help curb this appetite-in this
operational performance, in both speed and
case, the original information, which may
have exceeded a disk’s capacity, can now
Magneto-optical (MO) configurations,
fit on the disk.
which employ optical and magnetic princi-
ples to store and retrieve data, have also been
The software used for these tasks vary in
manufactured. Like the CD-RW, it is a
capability, and programs have been released
reusable medium.
for the home and the professional/corporate
Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk In the early 2000s, however, DVD home
The DVD family, for its part, supports a design/recording could still present a chal-
recordable option in various flavors. They lenge. It was, in a sense, a fairly recent
Figure 9.3
A computer-based DVD
simulation used to test a
disk you’re designing.
DVD authoring
programs can also be
used to produce electronic
slide shows in addition
to storing other media-
based information.
(Courtesy of Sonic
Foundry; DVD
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 127

merger between new software, drives, com- use an optical system to create a permanent
pression techniques, and media. record of transactions.This could be advan-
In one case, the DVD you just created tageous since the information could not be
may not have played on a given DVD unit, altered, and the disk could facilitate a future
based on a number of factors.This included audit.
the media itself, that is, the disks manufac-
tured by one company versus another
company.10 Summary
Another factor was the DVD drive. Regardless of the optical drive or media,
Initially, a drive may have only supported a current and future systems provide us with
limited number of DVD formats. A system the means to store large volumes of infor-
may have been compatible with DVD-R but mation. This is important: Data storage
not with DVD+R media. Other drives that demands are increasing as the nature of
supported erasable DVD formats may have information becomes more complex. In
supported DVD-RAM but not DVD-RW desktop video and multimedia applications,

media. The DVD-RAM has been used to for instance, 24-bit graphics as well as digital
back-up data since it has a high storage audio and video clips can be used. While
capacity.The DVD-RW, for its part, is analo- data compression can be applied, this infor-
gous to the CD-RW, albeit with a much mation can still be data storage intensive.
greater information storage capacity. But like The different classes of optical systems
many other fields, manufacturers worked to will also continue to coexist. At first glance,
improve the compatibility situation.11 a conventional CD-ROM may appear obso-
Stand-alone DVD recorders, which are lete in the face of some other configura-
not connected to a PC, have also be manu- tions. But CD-ROMs are cost effective, have
factured, with one goal of replacing VCRs. a large storage capacity, and a high market
As of this writing, the VCR is still a dom- penetration.
inant player in the consumer market since it Magnetic media, hard and floppy drives,
can play and record television shows and will also continue to be used. Hard drives
other video materials. Most DVD consumer are generally faster than their recordable
players have been play-only devices. This optical counterparts, making them a staple
may gradually change, though, as newer for PC-based video editing systems and
models are manufactured and media con- other demanding data storage operations.
tinue to improve and become more cost- In brief, as you store, edit, and retrieve the
effective. video through the editing program and the
Finally, it should be noted that another computer, the drive must be able to handle
system, the write-once, read many this high data flow.
(WORM) drive, has also been manufac- Fixed storage hard drives can also be
tured. An early permanent storage medium, less expensive than some recordable optical
which included a 14-inch optical disk con- drives, although this economic advantage
figuration introduced by the Storage Tech- decreases as the data storage requirement
nology Corporation in 1983, a disk could increases. Basically, when dealing with mass
serve as an archival storage medium.12 storage needs, it is cheaper to buy another
An archival and permanent capability optical disk than another hard drive.
could also be important in certain applica- But as introduced in Chapter 3, remov-
tions, in contrast with an erasable disk. In able magnetic storage systems have added a
one example, a financial institution could new twist to this scenario. Iomega’s widely

adopted drives, for instance, have a range of online services. A CD-ROM stored data
data storage capacities. When you fill a disk that would normally require an extended
with information, you simply buy a new download time, that is, the period of time to
disk rather than a new drive. relay the information from the company to
The late 1990s and early 2000s also wit- you. The online service, for its part, would
nessed lower prices for CD-Rs and CD- supply new and updated information.14 The
RWs—they fell below the $75 mark. Blank same scenario is playing out in certain DVD
CD-R disks could also cost less than $1 markets where DVD-Internet integration is
each, in contrast with more expensive an important goal and tool.
removable magnetic media. DVD drives,
though more expensive, similarly benefited
from price breaks. Many new PCs, includ- Privacy
ing notebooks, were also outfitted with The storage capabilities of optical media
recordable CD-ROM and/or DVD drives. have raised privacy concerns. In one case,
In essence, each medium has its benefits a potential CD-ROM produced by the

and appropriate application areas.While you Lotus Development Corporation triggered a

may use a CD-R to distribute audio cuts, a public outcry. Lotus planned to take advan-
fixed hard drive may serve to store a video tage of a CD-ROM’s storage capabilities and
sequence you are digitizing. The media sell a disk loaded with demographic data
are complementary and, in the end, have about American consumers. The company
resulted in a cost-effective and flexible received so many complaints, though, that
storage bonanza. the product was dropped from its line.
This example highlights a key issue of the
information age: an individual’s right to
OTHER ISSUES privacy. Although the new technologies can
enhance our communications capabilities,
Convergence they can also be invasive.15 The available
The rapid growth of the optical disk options to protect yourself include con-
field highlights the growing convergence sumer pressure, employing other emerging
between different technologies and their technologies, and adopting privacy regula-
respective applications. Products such as the tions, as was the case with the European
CD-I married computer applications with Community (EC).
standard television technology. A television The EC had proposed a series of strict
became part of a computer-based entertain- regulations governing the collection and
ment and educational system.13 dissemination of personal information. The
Products such as the Photo CD, for their rules recalled the World War II era when
part, cut across the traditional and silverless information from telephone records was
photographic fields. Pictures produced as used for political purposes. The proposed
standard prints or slides could also be stored regulations were designed to help protect an
on a disk and viewed on a television or individual’s privacy.16
computer. The same pictures could subse- Although privacy is important, some
quently be manipulated on a computer. people believed the regulations were too
The convergence factor has even bridged strict and would impede the flow of infor-
different application areas. For example, the mation between countries. A similar situa-
mass storage capabilities of CD-ROMs were tion has prevailed in the United States. Some
married to the instant update capability of individuals, as well as government agencies,
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 129

believe there has to be a balance between finished reading, you can return to the orig-
protecting an individual’s privacy and the inal page with another click of a button.
government’s ability to retrieve specific As you continue, the term semiconductor is
types of information. Questions were also similarly marked. You could then retrieve
raised about privacy with regard to e-mail information, through a series of links, about
in a business environment.17 This topic is semiconductors, the semiconductor indus-
covered in a later chapter. try, and related economic implications.
By following this pattern, you can retrieve
information in a natural way, that is, the way
Information Retrieval people think.You follow a train of thought
Through optical media, we can gain access that enables you to make associations
to entire libraries of information stored on between diverse topics. In this context,
a series of small disks.Yet to tap this infor- hypertext is no longer just a search mecha-
mation effectively, suitable search methods nism. It provides a new way to organize,
must be devised. link, and communicate bodies of informa-

In one example, a CD-ROM that serves tion and knowledge.You can also reveal pre-
as a database is equipped with software that viously hidden connections between topics.
functions as the information-retrieval me- A hypertext system performs these tasks
chanism. Depending on the package, it may effortlessly, at least for the user. The various
also allow us to search through the infor- links can also be retraced so you can return
mation in different ways. Some systems to a given source.
employ keyword searches while others This concept has been extended through
support more sophisticated mechanisms, in- hypermedia systems. The term hypermedia
cluding hypertext. has been associated with multimedia, a
Hypertext is a sophisticated information subject discussed in a later chapter. Briefly,
management and retrieval mechanism that “multimedia is the integration of different
works in a nonlinear fashion. It cuts across media types into a single document. Multi-
magnetic and optical storage domains, the media productions can be composed of text,
World Wide Web, and other information graphics, digitized sound . . . ,” video, and
systems. Vannevar Bush, President Roo- other information. Hypermedia software, in
sevelt’s science advisor, originally conceived turn, allows you to “form logical connec-
the concept for such a mechanism in the tions among the different media composing
1940s. the document.”18 When you click on a high-
Hypertext operates in much the same lighted term, you may see a picture or hear
way that humans think. You may, for a sound, instead of simply a page of text.
example, use hypertext to conduct research With a hypermedia program, the links
about the new communications technolo- between the information, whether textual
gies.While exploring this topic, you see the or graphic, can be represented in different
term laser diode. Because it is important, the ways. These include highlighted text, text
words are highlighted or underlined in our placed between different symbols, and
hypertext environment, indicating they are buttons. Buttons are visual markers, typically
linked to other information. Next, move the labeled, that can help create a more effective
on-screen cursor to a word and click a user interface.
mouse button. The linked information is This searching capability, regardless of the
subsequently retrieved and displayed, either system, highlights the power of the PC
on a separate page or in a window. When when combined with a mass storage device.

tion storage that taps a laser’s capabilities—

the hologram.


Holographic techniques were discovered in

the 1940s by Dr. Dennis Gabor. A research
engineer, he won a Nobel Prize in 1971
for his pioneering work as the father and
creator of holography. But the field did not
fully blossom until the 1960s. The develop-
ment of a suitable light source, the laser,
helped provide the key.
Even though it is beyond the scope of this

book to explore holography’s physical prop-

erties, we can still present a working defin-
Figure 9.4 Instead of looking through different books ition. A hologram, a product of holography,
Some of the navigational and magazines, you can let the PC do the
tools supported by
can be considered a record of the optical
work for you. If the data are stored on a disk, information that composes a scene. It can
hypermedia packages. the retrieval process can be simplified and
(Software courtesy of store information about a three-dimensional
enhanced. object, and unlike a standard photograph,
Ntergaid, Inc.;
HyperWriter!) which
Conclusion records light intensity . . . the hologram has the
Optical disk technology has played an added information of phase . . . to show depth.
important role in the communication When a person looks at a tree . . . he is using his
revolution. As we generate more informa- eyes to capture light bouncing off the object
tion, these disks serve as effective storage and and then processing the information to give it
distribution media. They are also cost ef- meaning. A hologram is just a convenient way to
fective and can accommodate a range of recreate the same light waves that would come
applications. from an object if it were actually there.19
Some individuals believe high-speed This capability can be startling. Objects
communications channels for Internet are quite lifelike, and they may appear
connections, among other applications, may to “jump out” of a scene. A standard
doom optical media to extinction. But it’s photograph records a scene from a single
important to remember that optical media perspective. A hologram breaks these
are portable—they can go where you go and boundaries.
where there may not be a network connec- Finally, many holograms are created
tion.You can also deliver high quality video through a special film and are chemically
clips, and even movies, operations that may processed. But newer techniques have en-
even tax high-speed data lines. In essence, hanced this task.
both technologies and their respective
applications will continue to coexist for a
number of years. Applications
Finally, as briefly covered in the next A statue can be recorded as a cylindrically
section, there is another form of informa- shaped hologram.20 You can see the recorded
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 131

statue as you would the original object— Figure 9.5

from various views. Corrosion monitored: An
The advertising and security fields are example of holographic
also supported. Attention-grabbing ads can interferometry.
be produced, and small, inexpensive em- Holography can, in
effect, let you visualize
bossed holograms have been placed on credit
the interior of a pipe
cards for security purposes.21 from the outside.The
Another application area is holographic circular fringe pattern,
interferometry. Unlike artistic endeavors, a due to a small pressure
conventional hologram is not created. Ra- change, indicates
ther, in one variation, a double exposure of weakened regions of the
the same object is made. During one expo- pipe wall. (Courtesy of
sure, the object is stationary and at rest. In the Newport Corp.)
the second, the object is subject to stress
through the introduction of the physical

forces it may experience in actual use.22
When processed, the hologram will
depict a series of fringes or lines across the
object. They resemble the contour lines on
a map. The fringes reveal the small differ-
ences between the exposures—the differ-
ences between the object while at rest and
under stress.23 Consequently, the hologram The holographic field may also bring
serves as a visual map of the areas that may massive data storage capabilities to the
be deformed or affected by the operation. desktop.26 In one example, engineers devel-
Holographic interferometry has been used oped “a CD-sized holographic storage disk
to inspect products for manufacturing defects. that holds on the order of a terabit of infor-
Metals and other materials have also been mation—a factor of thousands more than a
subjected to stress to test for possible flaws.24 CD.And . . . the disk is quickly searchable—
Holography has also provided us with the a property that springs naturally from the
holographic optical element (HOE), a hologram holographic reading process.”27 Thus, its
that functions, for instance, as a lens or unique properties can make a holographic-
mirror.25 HOEs are especially useful when a based system a highly effective and efficient
standard optical component may not fit or storage system.
may be too heavy. The future may also witness 3-D televi-
In one application, a head-up display, an sion. Experimental work has already been
image of an instrument panel could be dis- conducted, and if combined with CD-
played before a pilot’s eyes.The pilot would quality sound, the system would support
not have to move his or her head to view realistic computer games as well as enter-
the instruments. tainment and educational programs.


1. Lasers initially store this information on a 15. Caller ID triggered a similar response.
master disk. This disk plays a key role in pro- See Bob Wallace, “Mich. Bell Offers Caller ID
ducing copies. Service with Call Blocking,” Network World 9
2. Paul Freiberger, “CD Rot,” MPC World (March 2, 1992), 19, for a description of why
(June/July 1992), 34. blocking options were adopted.
3. Even in early 1992, the price was $20 for 16. Mary Martin, “Expectations on Ice,”
the first disk and only $6 per additional disk in Network World 9 (September 7, 1992), 44.
a series. 17. See the e-mail chapter, Chapter 18, for
4. Advertisement, “CorelDraw,” NewMedia, specific information.
April 1992, back cover. 18. Ntergaid, Inc., “HyperWriter,” flyer.
5. A more sophisticated business model was HyperWriter (for IBMs) and HyperCard (for
later released. Macs) were two pioneer programs that you
6. CD-Interactive Information Bureau, could use to create hypertext/hypermedia

“CD-I Launches Titles,” CD-Interactive News documents.

(January 1992), 4. 19. Brad Sharpe, “Hologram Views,”
7. These include the CD-ROM XA and Advanced Imaging 2 (August 1987), 28.
other formats. 20. Thomas Cathey, Optical Information Pro-
8. Frank Beacham, “Consortium Proposes cessing and Holography (New York: John Wiley &
New CD Format,” Computer Video 2 (March/ Sons, 1974), 324.
April 1995), 10. 21. These holograms would be difficult to
9. There are also subgroupings in these duplicate and may have high expertise and
general categories. physical plant requirements.
10. Ralph LaBarge, “DVD Compatibility 22. Edward Bush, “Industrial Holography
Test,” DV 10 (July 2002), 24. Applications,” ITR&D (n.d.), 30.
11. Please see Ralph LaBarge,“The Burning 23. Cathey, Optical Information Processing and
Question,” DV 11 (June 2003), 40–46. Holography, 324.
12. Storage Technology Corporation, “7600 24. James D.Trolinger,“Outlook for Holog-
Optical Storage Subsystem,” product descrip- raphy Strong as Applications Achieve Success,”
tion brochure. Note: Archival implies the disk Laser Focus/Electro-Optics 22 (July 1986), 84.
and records will theoretically last past a certain 25. Jose R. Magarinos and Daniel J.
number of years. Coleman, “Holographic Mirrors,” Optical Engi-
13. As discussed in a later chapter, the estab- neering 24 (September/October 1985), 769.
lishment of an enhanced and advanced televi- 26. Tom Parish,“Crystal Clear Storage,” Byte
sion standard will only accelerate this trend. 15 (November 1990), 283.
14. Domenic Stansberry, “Going Hybrid: 27. “Holographic Disk Is Quickly Search-
The Online/CD-ROM Connection,” NewMe- able,” Laser Focus World 39 (February 2003),
dia 5 (June 1995), 37. 13.


Amadesi, S., et al. “Real-Time Holography Method: Application to Automatic Measure-

for Microcrack Detection in Ancient Gold ments of Surface Defects in Artwork.” Optical
Paintings.” Optical Engineering 22 Engineering 30 (September 1991), 1294–
(September/October 1983), 660–662; P. 1298. Holography and the art/art restoration
Carelli, et al. “Holographic Contouring worlds.
Information Storage: The Optical Disk and Holography 133

Bell, Alan. “Next-Generation Compact Discs.” Journal 87 (December 1978), 832–834. Using
Scientific American 275 (July 1996), 42–46; holography as a film preservation system.
Philip Dodds. “Comparing Oranges and Lambert, Steve, and Suzanne Ropiequet, eds.
Mangoes: Another View of the Emerging CD-ROM: The New Papyrus. Redmond,WA:
Digital Videodisk.” SMPTE Journal 105 Microsoft Press, 1986; Suzanne Ropiequet,
(January 1996), 46–47; Dave Kapoor. “The ed., with John Einberger and Bill Zoellick.
Next 10 Years.” DV 11 (January 2003), 28–34; CD ROM Optical Publishing: A Practical
Ralph LaBarge. “DVD Compatibility Test.” Approach to Developing CD-ROM Applications,
DV 10 (July 2002), 20–29. DVD coverage; the Vol. 2. Redmond,WA: Microsoft Press, 1987.
Kapoor article covers various, future digital Microsoft Press’s two-volume CD-ROM
video projections, including the DVD; the book series.Although published in the 1980s,
LaBarge article is an excellent resource, as of they remain excellent CD-ROM and elec-
this writing, for compatibility issues. tronic/optical publishing resources.
DeLancie, Philip. “Thinking Inside the Box McCort, Kristinha. “Beyond Aesthetics.”
Smart Set-Tops and Web-DVD Conver- Millimeter 29 (March 2001), 37–41. Design,
gence.” EMedia Magazine 14 (September aesthetic, and material management issues in

2001), 46–52; Philip De Lancie. “Untangling DVD authoring.
Web DVD Playback.” EMedia Magazine 14 N.A. “Holography Drives Ford Car Design.”
(February 2001), 40–45; Domenic Stans- Laser Focus World 35 (February 1999), 14–16;
berry. “Going Hybrid: The Online/CD- R.J. Parker and D.G. Jones. “Holography in
ROM Connection. NewMedia 5 (June 1995), an Industrial Environment.” Optical Engineer-
34–40. The convergence of DVDs, CD- ing 27 (January 1988), 55–66; David Rosen-
ROMs, and online services/the Internet. thal and Rudy Garza. “Holographic NDT
Foskett, William H. “Reg-in-a-Box: A Hyper- and the Real World.” Photonics Spectra 21
text Solution.” AI Expert 5 (February 1990), (December 1987), 105–106. Holography and
38–45.Traces the development of a hypertext industrial applications.
system concerned with regulations about Nelson, Theodor. “Managing Immense
underground storage tanks. Storage.” Byte 13 (January 1988), 225–238. A
Hand,Aaron, J.“Is Holographic Storage a Viable description of the storage engine of the
Alternative for Space?” Photonics Spectra 32 Xanadu project, a model for a new informa-
(June 1998), 120–124; “Holographic Storage tion storage and management system.
Delivers High Data Density.” Laser Focus Pozo, Leo F. “Glossary of CD and DVD Tech-
World 36 (December 2000), 123–127. Holo- nologies,” downloaded. Excellent and com-
graphic storage systems and technology. prehensive listing of terms and systems.
Higgins, Thomas V. “Holography Takes Optics Waring, Becky, and Alexander Rosenberg.“New
Beyond the Looking Glass.” Laser Focus World CD-ROM Hardware Swells the Consumer
31 (May 1995), 131–142. Excellent tutorial Market.” NewMedia 2 (May 1992), 12–15. An
about holography. earlier look at CD-ROM systems with side-
Ih, Charles S. “A Holographic Process for bars on Kodak’s Photo CD system and the role
Color Motion-Picture Preservation.” SMPTE of game manufacturers in this market.


Compact Disk (CD): A prerecorded optical disk Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM):
that stores music. The CD player uses a laser A prerecorded optical disk that stores data.
to read the information. CD-ROM applications range from the dis-

tribution of computer software to electronic Hologram: A hologram is a record of the optical

publishing. information that composes a scene. It can be
Compact Disk-Recordable (CD-R): A perma- used for applications ranging from advertis-
nent, recordable CD system. ing to security.
Compact Disk-Rewritable (CD-RW): An erasable, Holographic Interferometry: A holographic indus-
CD recordable system. trial application (e.g., for material testing).
Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk (DVD): A new, Holographic Optical Element (HOE): An applica-
high-capacity optical disk developed in the tion where a hologram functions as a lens or
1990s. Designed for commercial and con- other optical element.
sumer applications, it could replace the home Hypertext: A nonlinear system for informa-
VCR. tion storage, management, and retrieval.
Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk-Recordable (DVD- Links between associative information
R): A permanent, recordable DVD system. can be created and activated. This concept
Digital Versatile (or Video) Disk-Rewritable (DVD- has been extended to pictures and sounds
RW): An erasable, DVD recordable system. (hypermedia).
Erasable Optical Disks: A class of optical disk Optical Disk: The umbrella term for optical

where data can be stored and erased. storage systems.

10 Desktop Publishing

This chapter examines desktop publishing IBM PCs, for their part, despite some
(DTP), an application used to produce new- initial hardware and software disadvantages,
sletters, brochures, books, and other docu- eventually emerged as another major force
ments. DTP tools include PCs, software, in this field.Their dominant position in the
printers, and scanners. When combined, overall computer market, and the introduc-
they create a publishing system that can lit- tion of new equipment and programs, con-
erally fit on a desktop. DTP also provides us tributed to this development.
with an electronic composition tool in that
a design is electronically composed.1 A
monitor’s screen serves as a window in this The Monitor
process. When the DTP was taking off, many people
Various factors led to the proliferation of still owned 13 to 15-inch monitors. While
PC-based DTP systems in the late 1980s and suitable for different tasks, they could not
early 1990s.More sophisticated PCs and com- display a full page of readable text. In the
plementary software flooded the market while late 1990s and early 2000s, 17 and 19-inch
the laser printer became an affordable option. monitors became the norm as did LCD
monitors. As indicated in Chapter 3, inch
for inch, LCD monitors yield a larger
HARDWARE—THE COMPUTER, working or viewing area than conventional
MONITOR, AND PRINTER monitors.2 Consequently, users now have a
larger electronic canvas to design and imple-
Computer ment their publications. But despite this
The hardware end of the typical DTP advantage, one practice still holds true—
system consists of four major components: a different viewing modes are used during the
monitor, printer, scanner, and this section’s design process.
focus, the computer. In the full-page mode, a page can be dis-
The Macintosh helped launch the PC- played in its entirety to reveal the placement
based DTP industry. It was more graphically and spatial relationship between graphic and
oriented and easier to set up than compara- textual elements. But the page outline is
ble IBMs. A stock Mac, with its software noticeably reduced in size. Depending on
library, was also better equipped to handle your set-up, most, if not all, the text may be
desktop publishing and graphics applica- replaced by small lines or bars (a process
tions.When combined, these factors helped called greeking) since the characters are
individuals who were not graphic artists to essentially too small to be reproduced on the
design their own projects. Graphic artists, on screen.
the other hand, could now experiment with Other modes provide magnified or
different concepts. enlarged views of specific page sections.The


text can be read, and fine details of the doc- typeface in a specific size. The size is
ument’s style can be checked. Special mon- measured in points, and as the point size
itors have also been manufactured that have increases, so too does the character’s size.
generated enhanced document views, espe- As a frame of reference, 72 points equal
cially in the full-page mode. approximately one inch.
3. Although the typical printer cannot
generate typeset-quality documents, it is
Printer satisfactory for creating newsletters, an or-
A laser printer can produce high quality ganization’s in-house magazine, and even
documents. Most printers support a 600+ a book on a tight production schedule
dots per inch (dpi) resolution. In the context and budget. High-quality line drawings, a
of this discussion, the term resolution refers series of black lines on a white back-
to the apparent visual sharpness or clarity of ground, can also be printed. These may
the printed characters and graphics. This range from a building to an interior view
working definition is used throughout the of an engine that’s slated for a technical
chapter. There’s a relationship between the document.
dpi and a document’s perceived quality. In 4. The typical laser printer cannot support
general, a higher dpi figure could result in a full-color output. Its graphics capabilities
higher quality document. may also be limited for reproducing

When the first reasonably priced laser black-and-white photographs. Details

printer appeared in the early 1980s, it may not be sharply defined or too few
created a stir in the computer industry. The gray levels may be reproduced.
printer could handle some of the printing
jobs that had been reserved for traditional Color Printing. Color printers became
typesetting equipment. This trend, started increasingly popular during the 1990s.They
by the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet and the ranged from thermal wax to laser to dye
Apple LaserWriter printers, has continued sublimation units.4 The latter two systems
unabated. could support a high quality output, but had
As of this writing, most if not all been comparatively expensive.5
printers designed for the general business Color laser printers also broke the $1000
and consumer markets share several broad price barrier.They are generally fast, and for
characteristics. volume printing, can be more cost-effective
than other printer types.
1. A printer should be equipped with However, the ink jet color printer has
enough memory to take full advantage of made the greatest impact in the general
its printing capabilities. The memory consumer/business markets. By incorporat-
requirement increases for a color printer. ing various technological improvements,
2. Various typefaces and fonts are available printing quality improved. For example,
for the printers. The upshot? You can when a special paper that looks much like
design a document that fits your publish- glossy photographic paper is used, ink
ing needs.A typeface is a unique print style. smearing is reduced. When combined with
The different characters of a given type- other factors, an image that can look like a
face conform to a style, a set of physical conventional photograph can be produced.
attributes shared by all the characters.Two Other developments range from inks with
examples of common typefaces are Hel- archival properties, so the image won’t
vetica and Times Roman.3 A font is a fade for a number of years, to specialized
Desktop Publishing 139

printers that can support large format

Depending on your needs, you may even
opt for commercial printing. While new
hardware and software releases may make it
easier to prepare color images for this task,
it is still a complicated process.6 Conse-
quently, it is a good idea to discuss a project
with a commercial printer to obtain the best
results. You may also decide to leave the
work to individuals who are well versed in
this field.7
Finally, color can be an important DTP
element. Color can catch a reader’s eye and
can help convey information more effec-
tively. Think of a bar chart showing a radio
station’s ratings versus its competitors. Differ-
ent colors may make it easier to differentiate
the information. In another example, color

may produce a more visually appealing ad.


A DTP project may include photographs,

line drawings, and other artwork originally
produced in hardcopy form. This operation
is made possible by using a scanner, a piece
of equipment interfaced with the computer.
For example, a black-and-white photograph
can be placed on the scanner, much like a method creates gray-level representations or Figure 10.1
piece of paper on a copy machine. The simulated gray shades. The image is divided Different point sizes.
image is read or scanned, and the picture into small areas or cells.The picture’s various
information is digitized and fed into the gray shade representations are subsequently
computer. generated by turning dots in these areas
At this point, the image can be manipu- either on or off. This varying density of
lated with graphics software. It can be black dots, and ultimately the cells, creates
edited, the contrast and brightness levels the various apparent shades of gray through-
can be changed, and special filters can be out the picture.
applied.The now altered image can then be There is also a balance, especially when
saved and imported by the DTP software. using a typical PC-based configuration,
If a hardcopy is produced with our between the number of gray levels and the
laser printer, a digital halftone method is picture’s resolution. As the number of levels
employed. Because a conventional printer increases, the apparent resolution drops.8
cannot produce true shades of gray and only For desktop color work, the final print
prints black dots on a page, the halftone quality is affected by proper color registra-

tion, the quality of the printer, and other and international locations. In a typical sit-
factors. uation, a roll of film is developed, and a
The typical scanner supports 256 levels scanner digitizes select film images.They are
of gray and 24+ bit color. Contemporary then compressed, relayed, and processed at
systems also capture an image in a single pass the home office.11 This system saves time
or scan. Three passes had been the norm.9 and has provided for a more error-free
Scanners also come in different flavors. relay.
In one example, when desktop units were It should also be noted that scanners
still expensive, manufacturers developed less geared for the consumer/business markets
expensive handheld scanners.You physically may also support slides and/or negatives.
moved the scanner down the page to However, they may not match the flexibil-
capture the information.While cost effective ity and capability of scanners dedicated to
and suitable for various tasks, there were this operation.
limitations.10 Specialized scanners have also
been created, including very high resolution
units geared for commercial printing. Optical Character Recognition
The second component of a scanning A scanner can also be used with optical
Figure 10.2 system is the software—the mechanism by character recognition (OCR) software. In a
An OCR operation. which the computer controls the scanning typical application, scan a printed docu-

The text is reproduced

process. Pioneered by Ofoto, the latest gen- ment, and the software recognizes the text.
in the top of the screen
eration of software can automatically gener- The information can then be saved and used
(top window).The
window in the left, ate higher quality scans or images. This with a word processing program.
bottom corner, shows the capability also makes the technology more An OCR system can save time and labor
original scanned text. accessible.You do not have to be an expert but may have limitations. Only a certain
The learning mode is for general work. You supply the aesthetic number of typefaces may be recognized,
also activated so the framework, and the program can help you and the characters must be legible and fairly
system can be “taught” produce a better product. Manual adjust- dark. Some characters will also be incor-
to identify letters, for ments and various image-editing functions rectly read and must be replaced during an
example that were are also supported. editing session.
previously unrecognized. In a related area, film/slide scanners are To overcome some of these problems, the
(Software courtesy of also popular. Newspapers have used such program may support a learning mode.You
Image-In, Inc.; Image-
systems to send photographs between local teach the software/computer to recognize
incompatible type. More recent packages
also recognize a wider range of type and
have reduced the number of read errors.


Images used for a range of DTP and video

projects are also produced by digital still
cameras. Through the emergence of elec-
tronic still photography (silverless photo-
graphy), an image is electronically captured
rather than using film.
Desktop Publishing 141

In this operation, film is replaced with SOFTWARE

a Charged Coupled Device (CCD), or other
electronic sensor, and memory.12 The images The heart of any DTP system is the soft-
can be stored on a variety of media, typi- ware. Our discussion focuses on two PC
cally a removable memory storage card.The program categories, word processing and
images can subsequently be retrieved by a page composition programs.16
computer for processing and/or more per-
manent storage.
When first introduced, digital cameras Word Processing Software
geared for the consumer market could not Newer word processing programs can
match a film camera’s cost or film’s resolu- complete some of the jobs once reserved
tion. However, as newer models were intro- for DTP software.These include generating
duced, various factors made digital cameras articles, business forms, and newsletters.
a hot commodity. These include the intro- Word processing programs incorporate
duction of professional models that could different functions to assist the writer.These
actually rival and/or even surpass film’s include the following:
image quality under certain conditions.13
Other factors are: • spelling and grammar checkers;
• a macro capability—you complete a com-

• price breakthroughs; mand with one or two rather than mul-
• enhanced sensors; tiple keystrokes;
• immediacy—like a video camera, you can • a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSI-
immediately view an image; WYG) display on your monitor—as you
• the computer connection—you can compose a page, you visually see its
readily manipulate and store the images margins, graphics, and other elements,
in your PC; you don’t have to wait for the page to be
• a new generation of cost-effective color printed;17 and
printers; • an ability to create tables, charts, and
• cost-effective—film and processing ex- indexes.
penses are eliminated by the reusable stor-
age card; and A sophisticated word processing program
• CCDs and other sensors are sensitive can handle a range of applications, includ-
to low light, and their characteristics also ing those that do not demand the full power
make them conducive for specialized of a DTP system. A word processing pro-
work, including astronomical pho- gram can also be easier to use, faster, and can
tographs.14 produce a high-quality output.

On the flip side, digital cameras can still

be comparatively expensive, particularly at Page Composition Software
the professional level. More pointedly, a pro- Page composition (DTP) programs also
fessional film camera may be able to operate support a WYSIWYG display and an inter-
if its battery dies—you generally don’t have active interface. Like many word processing
the same option with an electronic camera. programs, as you move a graphic or column
Film has other advantages as well, and like of text, the changes take place in real time.
its electronic counterparts, is also improving This visual feedback helps you determine if
with new enhancements.15 a page design is satisfactory, and it allows

you to quickly experiment with different leading, respectively, the space between spe-
layouts. cific pairs of letters and between individual
DTP software also sports numerous lines can be altered. This capability can
enhancements. For example, text and graph- enhance a document’s appearance and read-
ics can be accurately placed via alignment ability.
aids, and there are extensive text and graph- DTP programs can also import different
ics manipulation modes.The discussion that file types.These include data from graphics,
follows provides a general overview of select word processing, and spreadsheet programs.
operations.18 It may also be possible to rotate a line of text
and to produce other special effects.
Text Manipulation. When you create a The trend appears to be toward the cre-
document, the program displays an outline ation of more self-contained programs. As
of a blank page. Next, you can open up one modules are added and refined, the program
or more columns for text placement. Text may be able to handle more tasks without
and graphics can also be placed in resizable, tapping other software.20
movable blocks or frames. For example, you
can create a newsletter that’s formatted like Graphics Manipulation. Many DTP pro-
a newspaper. The first page consists of co- grams can create simple graphics. But like
lumns of text, assorted illustrations, and the the word processing function, you will prob-

newsletter’s masthead. ably continue to use a dedicated graphics

For the masthead, a mouse is used to package.
create a long and narrow frame across the Once a graphic is created (for example,
top of the page.An appropriate typeface can an artist’s rendition of a mountain to ill-
then be selected, as can stylistic elements. ustrate an article in our newsletter) it is im-
These include printing the text with a ported. At this point, the graphic can be
shadow effect. resized. It can also be cropped, so only a
A DTP program is also equipped with a portion of the entire image appears.You can
word processing module. But you may con- then move the graphic to other positions,
tinue to use your favorite software to type and if supported, wrap text around the
the text. It may be faster, and you may be image. Thus, instead of seeing separate and
more comfortable with its functions. The distinct blocks of text and graphics, they can
DTP program can subsequently import this be more integrated.
file.19 When retrieved, it can be placed in
designated columns and spaces. Templates. A DTP program may be sold
If the file is large and one column fills up, with templates.A template specifies the design
the text can be routed to another column. of newsletters, books, and other documents.21
The routing can be automatic, or you can Instead of spending hours to design a publica-
manually designate the next column the text tion, you can use a premade template, which
should fill. delineates the document’s physical appear-
A program can also compensate for ance. Custom templates can also be created,
editing. As words are added or deleted, the stored, and recalled when necessary.
text flows or snakes from column to column Besides helping novices, a template can be
until the proper space adjustments are made. useful to people who are in a hurry or who
This control over the text also extends cannot create an effective design. For an
to the physical spacing between individual organization, it can also bring a sense of
characters and sentences. In kerning and order and uniformity to reports. A large
Desktop Publishing 143

company, for instance, can house several

templates or more divisions can produce
their own reports. If a format is not adopted,
a report’s structure could vary from division
to division. This could hinder communica-
tion, especially if a document does not
present the material in a clear and logical
fashion.22 It may also detract from the
company’s look or corporate identity, rec-
ognizable physical attributes that readily
identify the company to internal and exter-
nal parties.


Now that we’ve covered DTP basics, it’s Figure 10.3

appropriate to discuss some general guide- program may support many typefaces and The PageMaker’s DTP

lines: special printing effects, do not use them all on program. Its Toolbox, is
the same page.The document may be difficult used for drawing,
1. Institute a DTP training program. to read, and the information may be lost in a rotating text, and other
The software may be complicated and have maze of fonts and double-underlined text. options (upper left
corner).The control
a steep learning curve. 6. Read. Hundreds of DTP books and
panel, visible at the
2. A DTP system will not turn everyone magazine articles have been written that bottom, can be used to
into an artist.It is simply a tool to present ideas cover everything from aesthetics to scanning quickly manipulate
and information more effectively. Paraphras- to tips from professional DTP users. If you text/graphics. (Software
ing Clint Eastwood in one of his Dirty Harry are learning how to use a DTP system, it is courtesy of Adobe
roles, you’ve got to know your own limita- also important to practice your craft. Ex- Systems, Inc.;
tions (and strengths). Do what you do best. periment with what you’ve learned and PageMaker.)
But if you need an artist or other professional, develop your own style.
hire one.You will save time and money and 7. Explore your software’s other capabil-
are likely to get a superior final product. ities. For example, it may also support doc-
3. Plan and effectively use a page’s white ument generation for the Internet and/or
space. It can provide visual relief for the other electronic publishing venues. Instead
reader and serves as a design tool. White of printing on paper, you can print to an
space can highlight and focus attention on electronic medium, thus extending your pub-
specific page elements. This concept also lishing options via the same program.
extends beyond the DTP industry. It is an As mentioned elsewhere, the same
established technical writing axiom. graphic may also be used for multiple dis-
4. Pay attention to the basics: grammar, tribution venues, ranging from a print-based
typos, and spelling mistakes. Proofread the brochure to a DVD to a web page.Thus, you
document after you are finished.Do not try to may use compression and other techniques
catch every kind of mistake in one reading. to optimize the graphic for each application
5. When designing a document, keep it and environment.
simple, if appropriate. Although a DTP 8. Use your imagination.

New authors/publishers do, however, face

some constraints. These vary from individ-
ual to individual and may include your
budget, experience, and DTP system’s level
of sophistication.They’ll have an impact on
your final product.
You must also face the dual problem
of promoting and distributing your work.
Although the structure for this market is
evolving, it may still have to mature to
provide a more established support mecha-
nism.You also do not have access to the edi-
torial and technical expertise afforded by a
traditional publishing house.

Other Applications
Figure 10.4 DTP systems have been employed in other
DTP programs may also APPLICATIONS applications. These include the publication

include templates or of technical manuals, year-end reports, ads,

premade publication Personal Publishing information flyers, posters, and newsletters.
designs. In this figure Prior to the DTP revolution, if you wanted They have also been adopted by traditional
some of PageMaker’s to publish a book, you generally had two media organizations because DTP systems
brochure options are options. You signed a contract with either can save time and money.
highlighted. (Software
an established publishing house or a vanity The New Yorker slowly integrated DTP
courtesy of Adobe
Systems, Inc.;
press. For the latter, you paid a publisher technology in its operation. The move was
PageMaker.) for printing and possibly distributing your initiated to speed up certain tasks, and as
work. DTP systems provide authors stated, to save money.24 In the newspaper
with a third choice—to act as your own industry, PCs equipped with the appropri-
publisher. ate software have been used for photo-
As the author/publisher, you are in con- graphic preparation and editing.25
trol of the entire process.You can make last- Publishing companies have also used
minute changes and updates, and a standard DTP technology. Since DTP systems are
laser printer may suffice as the printing cost effective, an organization can poten-
press.A higher dpi commercial unit can also tially publish more books and take a chance
be used for the final copy. with a manuscript geared toward a narrow
In a variation of this theme, you can initi- audience. DTP may also be applicable for
ate what Don Lancaster has called book-on- books that are regularly updated.
demand publishing.You do the work your- Individuals have also benefited. Besides
self, including the printing and binding. But book-on-demand publishing, you can use a
instead of producing an initial run of 500 or DTP system to produce a document, such
more copies, you print a book only when as a resume. Just as important, you can
someone orders it.This reduces the up-front rapidly update the document and keep
costs for materials, and each copy could liter- multiple versions—each one potentially tar-
ally be an updated version of the original geted toward a different type of employer—
book.23 on your computer.
Desktop Publishing 145

Finally, in a related application, magazine

publishers have created electronic versions
of their products and have placed them on
the Internet.Although the core of the infor-
mation may remain unchanged, a conver-
sion process is typically used to prep the
information for this environment.
The Internet and related electronic media
can offer a publisher additional capabilities
through the use of interactive links, anima-
tions, and digital media cuts.A publisher can
also update information in a more timely
fashion and provide in-depth coverage.
If space limitations force an article(s) to
be cut from the print version, it can possi-
bly be electronically housed. Back issues
can also be made available, and this service
could be used to attract new, potential

Figure 10.5
CONCLUSION In two other examples, progress in the Digital cameras have
overall laser market will have an impact on revolutionized picture
The DTP industry is still maturing. Besides DTP systems (e.g., laser printer develop- taking, even in the
the developments outlined in this chapter, ment), while the proliferation of networks astronomical field. In
the industry will benefit from the conver- could promote DTP-based operations. An this case, amateur
gence of different technologies and applica- electronic publishing environment would astronomers have used
tions. Entire font and clip art collections can, make it possible for more than one person inexpensive digital
for instance, be stored on CD-ROMs.There to retrieve, review, and edit a document. cameras for imaging
is also an overlap in the area of graphics The concept of networking also cuts applications.
software.A computer-assisted design (CAD) across national and international boundaries.
program can be used to design a building. High-speed digital lines can tie offices
In a DTP project, the same program can around the world in a global communica-
create an illustration. tions net. For DTP, you can gain access to
Advancements in one field can also have an the data stored on other networks, informa-
impact on another field in the new technol- tion can be rapidly exchanged, and ulti-
ogy universe.Desktop publishing is no excep- mately important resources can be shared.26
tion. Newer, powerful PCs speed up various The DTP field has also helped promote
tasks,and for DTP,a project can be completed the growth of a personal communications tool.
more rapidly. These same machines can also With a DTP system, an information con-
support sophisticated software that was once sumer can now become an information pro-
the domain of larger and more expensive ducer. Information can also be tailored for a
computer systems. In one application, DTP narrow rather than a mass audience, as may
users can correct and prepare large, high reso- be the case with newsletters, pamphlets, and
lution images for publication. even book-on-demand publishing projects.


1. Please see the “Desktop Video and 10. Problems could include uneven scans.
Multimedia Productions” chapter, Chapter 11, 11. Barbara Bourassa, “Mac Systems Speed
for a look at analogous systems for video Photo Transmissions,” PC Week 9 (February 17,
production. 1992): 25.
2. As covered in Chapter 3, a 17-inch 12. The sensor may include a complemen-
LCD monitor has a larger viewing area than a tary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)
17-inch conventional monitor. For example, a sensor.
conventional monitor’s cover—the plastic sup- 13. This could include lighting and the
porting/around the tube—reduces the viewing camera’s film speed-setting.
area. For more information about the differ- 14. Digital cameras have, in one sense, helped
ences between monitor types, please see advance amateur astrophotography when com- bined with new telescope/mount designs and
3. You can buy font libraries on CD-ROMs. computer software (for image processing).
4. Please see Tom Thompson, “Color at a 15. For the general consumer market, film
Reasonable Cost,” Byte 17 (January 1992), 320, still holds the edge in resolution/contrast range.
for a discussion of thermal wax units. 16. Besides word processing and page com-
5. These printers also produce a continuous- position software, another program category has
tone output, in contrast to halftone-based supported page formatting/design options. A

systems, described in a later section of this series of codes implements a page design. This
chapter. Continuous-tone images look more type of program has been written for profes-
like conventional photographs. For specific sional computer typesetting systems and PCs. A
information, see Tom Thompson, “The Phaser print preview mode may have also been sup-
II SD Prints Dazzling Dyes,” Byte 17 (Decem- ported, and this type of program could typically
ber 1992), 217. handle difficult formatting jobs.
6. John Gantz, “DTP Is Inching Toward 17. Depending on the system, WYSIWYG
Color, But Don’t Hold Your Breath,” InfoWorld may more aptly be called “what-you-see-
13 (June 10, 1991): 51. See also Janet Anderson, is-probably-what-you’ll-get” in the output.
et al., Aldus PageMaker Reference Manual (Seattle, There may not be an exact one-to-one
WA: Aldus Corporation, 1991), 76–83, for an correspondence.
excellent overview of color printing via a DTP 18. Note that the terms used can also vary
system. from program to program even though the basic
7. If you decide to go the commercial route, concepts hold true.
you can use process- or spot-color printing. For 19. Most DTP programs can import from a
more information, see Eda Warren, “See Spot broad range of word processing programs.
Color,” Aldus Magazine 3 (January/February 20. As described, word processing programs
1992): 45. have also been enhanced. One price, though, for
8. Image-In, Inc., Image-In (Minneapolis, this increased sophistication, may be software
MN: 1991), 178. Note: Line drawings are not that is almost too powerful for simple tasks. A
affected by this factor. program may also place a higher processing and
9. Note: By capturing color and gray-level data storage demand on the host PC.
information, you can take full advantage of 21. Virginia Rose, Templates Guide (Seattle,
image editing software; scanning the same WA: Aldus Corporation, 1990), 3.
image multiple times, to produce a color 22. When working with text, it’s also possi-
output, has also been used in NASA’s outer ble to use a style sheet. In essence, a style sheet
space probes (and missions). defines the attributes of a document’s different
Desktop Publishing 147

elements, such as a headline and body text. A 24. James A. Martin, “There at the New
headline may be centered and set in a specific Yorker,” Publish 6 (November 1991): 53.
typeface. To use this style, highlight the appro- 25. Jane Hundertmark, “Picture Success,”
priate word(s) during editing, select the head- Publish 7 (July 1992): 52.
line style, and the text will be automatically 26. Lon Poole, “Digital Data on Demand,”
reformatted. MacWorld (February 1992): 227.
23. Don Lancaster, “Ask the Guru,” Com-
puter Shopper 9 (September 1989): 242.


Aldus Magazine 3 (January/February 1992).The Dearmin, Thomas C. “Commercial Printing

following articles cover selecting a paper Drives Laser Development.” Laser Focus World
type, the history of paper, and a history of 37 (January 2001): 195–200; Alex Hamilton.
offset lithography: Mark Beach.“Paper in the “Pressroom of the Future.” Electronic Publish-
Short Run.” 33–36; Dirk J. Stratton. “Down ing 25 (May 2001): 29–32. Printing technol-
the Paper Trail.” 80; Nichole J.Vick.“Oil and ogy developments.
Water.” 19–22. Eggleston, Peter. “The Future of Color Print-

Bishop, Philip.“Crimes of the Art.” Personal Pub- ing: Beyond CMYK.” Advanced Imaging 16
lishing (May 1990), 19–25; Roger C. Parker. (April 2001): 28, 34; Noel Ward. “The Color
“Desktop Publishing Common Sense.” of Print.” Electronic Publishing 24 (July 2000):
PC/Computing (March 1989): 151–156; 31–38. Printing and color.
“Desktop Quality Circa 1992.” Business Pub- Gass, Linda, John Deubert, et al. PostScript Lan-
lishing 8 ( January 1992): 23–29; “Publish guage Tutorial and Cookbook. Reading, MA:
Special Section; 101 Hot Tips.” Publish 7 (July Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1985.
1992): 63–88; Eda Warren.“See Spot Color.” Tutorial on PostScript.
Aldus Magazine 3 (January/February 1992): Hitchcock, Nancy A.“How New Digital Papers
45–48. While the articles may be older, they Will Impact Designers.” Electronic Publishing
offer an array of tips, guidelines, aesthetics, 22 (December 1998): 32–40; Bill Vaughn.
and effective design. “Are We Running Out of Trees.” Aldus
Bury, Scott. “Ready to Make the Digital Shift.” Magazine 4 (September/October 1994):
Electronic Publishing 25 (February 2001): 32–40. Two looks at paper: design and
24–28; Nancy A. Hitchcock. “Making a production issues (e.g., alternative sources/
Splash.” Electronic Publishing 25 (May 2001): shortages).
42–44; Matthew Klare. “Still Life in Pixels.” Lodriguss, Jerry. “Scanning Deep-Sky
Interactivity 4 (September 1998): 11–21; Astrophotos.” Sky & Telescope 105 (February
Michael J. McNamara. “Digital Dream What 2003): 128–134.While the article focuses on
Makes This Camera Worth $9,000,” down- astronomical photos, it is also an excellent
loaded from overview of image scanning/correction in
assets/download/3302003193951.pdf.; general.
Michael D. Wheeler. “Information Process- Pennycock, Bruce. “Towards Advanced Optical
ing: Law Enforcement Uses Digital Imaging Music Recognition.” Advanced Imaging 5
and Storage to Track the Criminal.” Photonics (April 1990): 54–57; Noel Ward. “Digital
Spectra 32 (November 1998): 107–111. Printing Goes Mainstream.” Electronic Pub-
Digital /electronic cameras and imaging— lishing 24 (February 2000): 32–36.Two desk-
overview and applications. top publishing applications.


Desktop Publishing (DTP): A term that input alphanumeric information from a

describes both the field and process whereby printed page to a computer.
high quality documents can be produced Personal Publishing: Desktop publishing systems
with a PC, a laser printer, and software. DTP make it possible for individuals to
also implies that you have access to enhanced produce and potentially market their own
layout and printing options. work.
Font: A font is a typeface in a specific size. Scanner: An optical/mechanical device that is
Optical Character Recognition (OCR): Either a interfaced with, and subsequently inputs,
stand-alone unit or a software option for graphics or text to a computer.
a scanner that makes it possible to directly Typeface: A specific and unique print style.
11 Desktop Video and

The term multimedia can describe the inte- Software Overview

gration of graphics, audio, and other media In the context of our present discussion,
in a presentation or production.This chapter the focus is on the dedicated multimedia
explores multimedia authoring software authoring program. Many are user-friendly
used to create such a production. Other since you do not have to be a programmer
topics include hardware, applications, and to create a finished product. One software
aesthetic considerations. category uses a visual metaphor for this task.
The chapter also covers desktop video A series of icons, representing different
(DT-V).1 Analogous to desktop publishing, functions, is linked to create the presenta-
we can create our own video productions. tion.The icons are used as audio-visual and
PCs are an integral element in this process program control building blocks—one icon
and are used for applications ranging from may play an animation while another may
editing to creating graphics. create a loop. When reached, a loop causes
The DT-V and multimedia fields are also a series of events to repeat.
complementary. Desktop video tools can Other software categories include menu-
contribute to a multimedia production, and based scripting interfaces. With such a pro-
DT-V can be categorized as a component of gram, commands that perform various func-
the broader multimedia market.2 tions are selected from pull-down menus.
Depending on the software, it may also have
a complementary programming language
MULTIMEDIA for more advanced functions.
As you create your presentation, you may
Multimedia presentations are not new. also be able to use transitional effects.These
Videodisks and accompanying software have could include a fade-to-black and a sup-
served as a multimedia platform for years. porting audio effect.
But other products and factors, discussed
in the sections that follow, have spurred Impact. Authoring software has opened
the field’s growth. Other multimedia resour- up multimedia production to a broader user
ces that are not discussed in this chapter, base, including the corporate and indepen-
but may also support multimedia applica- dent producer markets. If you are visually
tions, include conventional programming oriented, you can use visual tools to create
languages. a project, much like a desktop publishing
document.You can import text and graph-
ics and create on-screen buttons. These


Figure 11.1
This shot highlights the
integration between
different software
programs to enhance and
speed-up certain
operations. In this case,
video editing and DVD
authoring applications
are integrated to
streamline the production
process. (Courtesy of
Sonic Foundry;Vegas +

elements can subsequently be moved, re- integration of audio-visual elements in a

sized, and linked to other information, or as multimedia production and hardware con-
described, to actions. From another stand- trol are two examples. The key word in the
point, it is almost like using a PC-based last sentence is seamless. Unlike a conven-
Colorform set. tional language that may require add-on soft-
Nevertheless, although authoring soft- ware modules or special programming hooks,
ware may be easier to use than conventional the capability is built-in and fully integrated
languages, you must still abide by a program- in multimedia authoring packages.
ming convention. To sustain an effective A program may also extend your pro-
multimedia environment, the presentation duction capabilities to the Internet. Macro-
must flow logically from event to event. media’s Director, one of the leading mul-
You should initially draft a set of criteria timedia production tools, has made it possi-
that drive the program’s design. These ble to play optimized versions of its projects
should include the program’s purpose and in this environment.The same may hold true
the best way to satisfy these goals with your for presentation programs. In one example,
software’s tools. You must also adhere to a computer presentation slated for a group
technical and aesthetic guidelines. of investors could similarly be exported and
reviewed via the Internet.
Other Capabilities. An authoring program
can also create a highly interactive produc-
tion. If you click on a specific area of a grap- Hardware Overview
hic, an event can be triggered. A digitized Optical media have emerged as key multi-
voice can be heard or a video clip played. media distribution tools. This is a reflection
Authoring systems may also be more flex- of their mass storage capacities.
ible than conventional programming tools Another important tool is a PC’s audio
for specific data handling tasks.The seamless capability. Typical applications are playing
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 151

Figure 11.2
PCs, when combined
with software, can create
an audio editing system.
You can view an audio
sequence and
edit/manipulate specific
sections.Video may also
be accommodated to
enhance the integration
between, for instance, a
sound track and a video
sequence. (Courtesy of
Sonic Foundry; Sound
Forge Studio.)

music and audio cuts, as well as editing your Beyond these devices, the primary hard-
own pieces. Unlike a traditional setup where ware consideration is the computer itself.
you may physically cut and splice tape, you Multimedia authoring is generally hardware
work with a computer.You can digitize your intensive, regardless of the platform.The PC
voice, view it as a waveform, and subse- should also be equipped with fast, high-
quently edit and alter it.You can also select capacity hard drives and as much RAM as
an audio effect, such as an echo or reverb, you can afford.
mix your voice with music, and save differ- At the dawn of PC-based multimedia
ent variations of the same piece. In essence, production, Apple and Amiga computers
the software provides you with a computer- were well ahead of the IBM PC world with
based audio console. respect to hardware compatibility. But the
Sound effects are also common and can scale started to balance with later Microsoft
serve as an audio cue. For one project, a bell, Windows releases and, in fact, they helped
chime or other sound can provide a user fuel this market’s growth.
with feedback confirming the selection of Both computer families support a plug
an on-screen button. and play capability. The term means what it
The video display is another considera- sounds like.You can theoretically plug in a
tion.The latest video cards can support life- common hardware peripheral and your
like (photorealistic) images, and in conjunc- computer will configure the setup for use.
tion with the PC and software drivers, may While this function works well in many
offer an accelerated operation.3 cases, certain peripherals may require addi-

tional software drivers to operate. In other motion video and the accompanying audio
cases, you may have to scratch and shake to a computer.5 This capability makes PC-
your head a few times, go to an online help based digital video production and editing
site, and drink several cups of coffee before systems a possibility.
you can get the system to work.4 A card’s capabilities can vary. It may
capture high quality, full-screen motion
video. As covered in the next chapter, these
DESKTOP VIDEO types of cards are used in corporate and
professional video production environ-
Desktop video is basically what it sounds ments. Other cards may only capture infor-
like. You can set up a video production mation at a reduced size and frame rate.The
system on a desktop. PCs can control video technical quality of this information can also
equipment and are used to create video vary.
Some equipment may be geared for con-
Edit Controllers. PC-based edit con-
sumers, others target professionals, while a
trollers are used to control editing VCRs.
third category crosses both brackets (pro-
When you edit a production, selecting,
sumer). The equipment’s durability, speed,
organizing, and joining individual shots
and sophistication can also vary, based on
electronically create a story.

the intended application, budget, and buyer.

Desktop video systems can range from
Nevertheless, the new generation of hard-
cuts-only to A/B roll to nonlinear configu-
ware and software has blurred some of the
rations. In the first set-up, shots are linked
distinctions between the professional and
together. In the second, you can make more
consumer worlds.
sophisticated transitions, such as incorporat-
As discussed in a later section, this devel-
ing a dissolve, where one image is gradually
opment also empowers people. Individuals
replaced with the next.These transitions are
and smaller organizations can now tap into
more complex and require additional VCRs
the power of production tools that were
and other equipment.
once the domain of established media
In the third environment, you can edit
a production using a visual metaphor—a
The following subsections cover the basic
timeline where video clips are arranged in
equipment and software used in desktop
sequential order. This topic is discussed in
video applications. Although it is important
depth in the next chapter.
to examine the capabilities of individual ele-
All in all, an editing system has also
ments, it is also important to view them as
become a realistic production option for
a system.
DT-V users. With the right video camera,
A component may also have multiple
you can produce near and, potentially,
applications: A PC may be used for creating
broadcast quality video. Combine this with
graphics and for editing.
a PC-based editing system, and you can
create programs ranging from commercials
to documentaries.
Hardware Overview

Video Capture Cards. A capture system Musical Instrument Digital Interface. PCs
usually consists of a camera and an interface can also take advantage of the Musical
device. Much like a scanner, the system feeds Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). This
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 153

standard made it possible for electronic now be interfaced, and musicians were
musical instruments developed by different handed a set of creative tools.
manufacturers to communicate with each
other, and ultimately, with computers.
As part of a larger system, MIDI can also Other Considerations
help create a powerful composing tool. In
a typical application, a computer is linked Compression. The term compression, for
with a synthesizer, an electronic musical our purposes, refers to data compression.
instrument.This connection is made through Digitized video, audio, and image files can
the PC and synthesizer’s MIDI ports, and a have enormous storage appetites. By using
program can subsequently turn the com- software and/or hardware schemes, data can
puter into a sequencer. A sequencer essen- be compressed and stored more efficiently.
tially is a multitrack machine that can record Compression is also used in other fields,
and play back multitrack compositions. especially the teleconferencing market, to
You can manipulate the synthesizer’s support the relay of audio-video informa-
notes with the PC, since these notes, the tion over less expensive, lower capacity, com-
events, are viewed by the computer as munications channels.
another form of data.The actual sounds are Compression can be lossy or lossless.7
not recorded, but rather, information detail- Lossy means some of the data are lost

ing the performance. The “speed at which through the compression scheme. For desk-
the key was pressed” is one such piece of top publishing and certain other applica-
information.6 tions, this may not be a problem since the
You can also create and edit musical com- loss can be negligible.8 Lossless, on the other
positions.A section of a track can be copied, hand, implies there is no loss of data. Loss-
the key can be transposed, and the tempo less techniques are used in the medical field
can be altered. The final piece can then and other areas where data loss may be
be played back under the control of the unacceptable.9
PC. Popular compression options have in-
The computer–MIDI marriage offers cluded the following:
other advantages. A synthesizer can create a
range of sounds that can vary from a harp- • Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)
sichord to a pulsating tone, a special effect • Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG-
suitable for a science fiction movie. The 1), and by extension MPEG-2, MPEG
parameters that constitute a sound can also Audio Layer-3 (MP3), and more recently,
be saved on a disk, and it is possible to store, MPEG-4.
manipulate, and recall entire sound libraries.
Collections of premade sounds are also JPEG and MPEG-1 were originally and
available. nominally geared for still and moving
The MIDI revolution was brought about images, respectively. MPEG-2 has emerged
by the adoption of the standard in the early as an important tool for video applications.10
1980s. Electronic equipment manufacturers MP3 has been used for audio compression
agreed to follow this common standard to (music files).You can, for instance, download
enable musicians to link different synthesiz- MP3 files from the Internet and store them
ers, helping to fuel the growth of the elec- on a CD. You can also purchase a stand-
tronic music industry. Previously incom- alone MP3 player, a small device that stores
patible and expensive instruments could and subsequently plays back MP3 files.

MPEG-4, for its part, is “designed to be used early 1990s, it brought, in part, digital audio
to deploy complete new applications or to and video to the Macintosh at a reasonable
improve existing ones.”11 More versatile and cost. Designed to run on most models,
“flexible” than its predecessors, MPEG-4 QuickTime made it possible for Apple users
was introduced on the general market in the to readily tap these resources. For example,
early 2000s. playback did not require additional hard-
Compression’s importance also extends ware, and digital video and synchronized
beyond the multimedia and DT-V fields. audio became an integral component of the
The development of efficient standards is overall Mac system. Multimedia and DT-V
critical for enhanced data relays through support was now a built-in function, not an
communications networks. Both develop- afterthought or a hardware and software
ments, advanced communications systems kludge.
and compression techniques, go hand-in- Since that time, enhanced QuickTime
hand. Compression is similarly discussed in versions have been released. More important
chapters covering high definition television, to the overall market, QuickTime supports
teleconferencing, and the Internet. Macs, IBMs, and Internet distribution.
For the latter, this includes using, in a QuickTime serves as a representative ex-
typical scenario, DT-V and multimedia tools ample of how this type of standard can be
to produce video clips slated for Internet used.

distribution. In one example, the system you In a typical application, you can capture
may use for editing a production may also an audio-video clip via your Mac. Once
support various Internet-based video deliv- saved, an editing program can manipulate
ery options. As stated at other points in the the clip and accompanying audio.
book, this type of production flexibility also One package, which illustrates this soft-
equates to additional distribution venues ware’s capabilities, is Premiere.The program
and the need to convert this information to can join clips using wipes, dissolves, and
meet each venue’s requirements.12 other transitions. Special creative and image
Finally, you may run across the term codec correction filters can also be applied, and
when working with audio-video systems. animations, still images, and multiple audio
It stands for compressor/decompressor. In tracks, are supported.
brief, a “codec is an algorithm, or special- Premiere’s visual interface makes it an
ized computer program, that reduces the intuitive program. Clip sequences can be
number of bytes consumed by large files and quickly rearranged, transitions can be added
programs.”13 or deleted, and audio tracks, graphically rep-
Codecs drive the compression/decom- resented as waveforms, can be manipulated.
pression processes and help make it possible Once you complete the project, it can be
to use less expensive and lower capacity previewed. If it looks and sounds good, it
communications channels for relays and/or can be made into a QuickTime movie,
to save storage space. Examples include where its size and other output characteris-
MPEG-4 and those originally geared for the tics can be controlled.
teleconferencing field.14 The movie can be used by itself or with
other QuickTime-aware or—compatible
QuickTime. The QuickTime architecture software. Instead of importing a still image,
or standard, which taps compression’s power, you import a movie. Place the movie in a
gave the multimedia and DT-V fields an document, click on it with a mouse, and the
enormous boost. Released by Apple in the movie plays. It can turn a static document
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 155

Figure 11.3
Premiere’s work
construction window
shows two clips that will
be edited together.
Premiere also supports a
wide range of functions,
including an option to
animate (move) a video
clip. (Software courtesy of
Adobe Systems, Inc.,

into a moving one. These characteristics These range from the computer model to
contribute to QuickTime’s value as a com- the graphics card to the use of a hardware-
munications tool. It can be used with based versus a software-based compression
numerous software packages, and as indi- system.15
cated, does not require special hardware for It is also important to examine Quick-
playback. Time and other standards from a systems
Hardware components do, however, have approach. When first introduced, a Quick-
an impact on the system’s performance. Time movie may have looked great to a

computer user. It was cost effective and Convergence

extended a PC’s production capabilities. But What it boils down to is a sense of balance
a person working with video systems may or perspective. Each production environ-
have looked at the same movie and won- ment has its own relative merits and primary
dered what the fuss was all about.16 Images application areas. They should all be exam-
were typically small, and as the movie’s size ined in the context of how they may fit in
was scaled up, clarity decreased. The frame the overall communications system.
acquisition and playback rates could also be The convergence factor should also be
low, which could make motions look jerky considered.As indicated in different sections
(not smooth). of the book, we continue to see a conver-
The truth probably lies somewhere gence of technologies and applications,
between both extremes. When first intro- including those taking place in the video
duced, PC-based digital video generally did editing market. In this case, the same soft-
not match the quality of conventional high- ware/hardware could be used to produce
end systems. But they were relatively inex- programming targeted for the Internet, an
pensive to implement and could be accom- information kiosk, a DVD, or a television
modated on a network. station.
Now, using a PC and the appropriate soft-
ware, you can create a video production that

can be published to the Internet or an Videotape: It’s Still Here

optical disk. The quality can also vary, from In this new world of digital video, A/V-
a partial screen/lower frame rate playback, ready hard drives, and optical storage, video-
as was once the norm, to a high quality pro- tape is still here. It is a highly efficient and
duction. effective storage medium. For example, fast
It is also important to note that while hard drives have supplemented and replaced
QuickTime-type products have improved tape in different broadcast applications. But
with age, DT-V producers may still work these systems can still be expensive, and for
with some hardware/software limitations. the foreseeable future, may not match tape’s
Thus, the digital video you make may be the high storage capacity/low cost ratio. Thus,
perfect complement for your presentation, both tape and nontape systems will coexist.
but it may not be suitable for a television Even when hard drives or other data storage
network. systems become more cost effective, tape
There is another caveat in this discussion. may still be used as an archival medium.This
FireWire-based editing systems proliferated topic is covered in more detail in the next
in the late 1990s and early 2000s.This stan- chapter.
dard supports a high quality audio-video
input and output and was matched by faster
hard drives that could accommodate this Graphics Software
data stream.What is the upshot of this devel- Graphics programs contribute to DT-V and
opment? Higher quality video editing, multimedia applications. Besides the typi-
including the production of clips for multi- cal software, other products are used. Com-
media projects, became available to a puter assisted design (CAD) programs,
broader user base. But to fully take advan- for example, can serve as illustration tools.
tage of the standard, you still had to have a American Small Business Computers, cre-
powerful computer fitted with the appro- ators of the DesignCAD software series, dis-
priate components. covered that their programs were also used
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 157

for business graphics, technical illustration,

and desktop publishing.17
Other software may even be more spe-
cialized, and can include:

• programs that create realistic human

• programs that generate landscapes
ranging from Mt. Saint Helens to the
planet Mars to surrealistic scenes created
in your own mind; or
• character generator programs that create
titles that can be overlaid on your

Video Toaster Figure 11.4

NewTek’s Video Toaster is a product that The newest version of the Video Toaster Image editing and
spans the professional and nonprofessional works with loaded IBM PCs. Loaded, in this graphics programs play

key roles in desktop
markets. Introduced for the Amiga, the context, refers to a fast processor(s), fast
video and multimedia
Toaster raised the level of DT-V production and high capacity hard drives, and as much production. In this
by a notch. RAM as you can afford. Like its predeces- example, an image can
The Toaster brought professional video sor, it supports multiple functions that are, be altered though various
production capabilities to the desktop at a with this generation, enhanced. tools, including filters
low cost. The system functions, in part, as that can be used for
a character generator, frame grabber, and a creative and image
switcher. Switchers are used for image tran- APPLICATIONS AND enhancement/correction
sitions. The Video Toaster also supports IMPLICATIONS applications. Other tools
digital video effects, and LightWave 3-D, its are visible on the left
3-D graphics program, actually emerged as Multimedia and desktop video systems have side of the screen.
a cross-platform industry standard. emerged as powerful information tools. In (Software courtesy of
Adobe Systems, Inc.;
Depending on the production situation, the business world, a multimedia production
you may also need a time base corrector can make a speech more interesting and
(TBC) to take full advantage of these capa- informative through the use of video and
bilities. A TBC “takes the unstable video other media. This concept has been
from a VTR and acts as a shock absorber, extended to teleconferencing and other
outputting rock stable video that can be fields.
integrated with other video sources in a
system to maintain good picture quality.”19
TBCs were once out of the financial and Education
technical reach of most DT-V users.The sit- The educational market is served by multi-
uation changed, though, when the Toaster’s media and DT-V products. In one applica-
popularity and the growing DT-V market tion, a student can use a multimedia book
prompted the introduction of inexpensive that incorporates sounds and video clips.
TBCs, including internal models that fit When combined with hypermedia links, the
inside a PC. student can explore and experience this new

world in a nonlinear fashion. The docu- years. Earlier projects included personal
ment’s interactive nature can also help make documentaries as well as video feedback,
learning active. where different visual patterns could be
In the medical field, surgeons could use created, controlled, and displayed on a
QuickTime, or another digital video pro- television screen. Today, artists can tap
duct, to inexpensively document new tech- sophisticated PCs and video equipment.
niques. Besides a written description, a sur- In essence, video can be captured for
gical procedure could be annotated with either still or motion displays, images can
video and voice. Digital video additionally be colored, and animations can be
offers a rapid turnaround time, a reasonable produced.
learning curve through programs such as Pre- • The emergence of Canon XL video
miere, and the potential to exchange these cameras, and other systems, as the tools
data over the Internet and optical media.20 of choice for independent documentary/
movie producers. After shooting, the
video would typically be edited with a
Training, Sales, and Advertising PC-based system.This also includes Apple
Training applications are well suited for DT- and IBM notebooks, generally configured
V and multimedia. A production could with FireWire ports and external hard
cover tasks ranging from car engine repairs drives connected to the ports. In this

to basic PC operations.Video clips of a real set-up, the internal or system hard drive
engine could be used, and the production typically stores the software, and the
could incorporate an interactive interface. external drive is used to store the audio-
Store owners are also served. An elec- video files and the edited piece. An
tronic sales catalog can either replace or external drive offers another advantage:
supplement a print version, and interactive portability. To work on a different
kiosks where customers can get information computer, simply disconnect the Fire-
about products have popped up in super- Wire cable, move the drive to the other
markets and malls as well as other outlets. computer, and plug in that system’s cable.
The advertising and public relations This feature also enables you to share
industries have also benefited. Video clips your files with a friend, colleague, or
and animations can be rapidly generated and client.
used in a presentation. In a related area, a • The use of DT-V and multimedia systems
sophisticated multimedia system was devel- to extend the concept of the free flow of
oped to showcase the city of Atlanta, information. Like desktop publishing,
Georgia. The presentation was used to production tools are now accessible to
promote Atlanta as the site for the 1996 more people.22 These tools have also con-
Summer Olympics.21 tributed to development of a personal
media. Instead of everyone receiving the
same information, more personalized
Other Applications information can be created and received.
The multimedia and DT-V fields have led For example, by using a video camera and
to other applications and implications, a computer, we literally become produc-
including the following: ers and editors. Another implication is
that we can now tap into more individu-
• Video artists adopting DT-V tools. Artists alized information and entertainment
have used inexpensive video systems for pools.
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 159

Figure 11.5
PCs, in combination
with video equipment,
have provided artists
with a powerful set of
tools. A still from
“Godzilla Hey,” by
Megan Roberts and
Raymond Ghirardo
(1988).The work
combines digital video
imagery and sound with
analog video synthesis.
Produced at the
Experimental Television
Center with Amiga PCs
and the FB-01 video
frame buffer with
proprietary software,
designed by David
Jones. (Courtesy of

Megan Roberts and
Raymond Ghirardo.)

Various organizations, including MIT’s Negroponte has also discussed this topic, and
Media Lab, have pushed both concepts his view of our digital future, in his Being
beyond current boundaries.The Media Lab, Digital.
as directed by Nicholas Negroponte, has
been one of the world’s premier research
institutes. Besides exploring the conver- PRODUCTION CONSIDERATIONS
gence of different media, personalized inter-
active media have been investigated. Two To wrap up this chapter, we should examine
examples are personal electronic newspapers some basic production issues along with
and television.23 broader, aesthetic issues. For the latter,
In this new world, information could the growth of the multimedia and DT-V
be retrieved from different sources and markets may have outstripped the develop-
subsequently delivered to you through ment of a sound aesthetic base. An exami-
the assistance of intelligent systems and nation of traditional film and television
human–machine interfaces. In one setting, a frameworks can be valuable.
computer could scan a night’s worth of pro-
gramming and then summarize and possibly
replay the portions that would be of per- Production Elements
sonal interest to you.24 Like desktop publishing, there are some
Other developments, including an inter- basic conventions you should follow when
esting look at this institution, can be found creating a DT-V or multimedia project.
in Stewart Brand’s book The Media Lab. These include the following:

1. Watch out for too many links. A reader 7. Do not place titles and other visual ele-
can become lost in a document if there ments at the edge of the screen. They
are too many consecutive links in an might be cut off when displayed on a
interactive multimedia production.25 A television. Similarly, make sure the text is
prototype of the final project, like a sto- not too small to read. You should also
ryboard for a television production, can avoid a fancy script typeface. Although a
help point out potential problems. fancy typeface might be fine on the com-
2. Know your audience. For example, the puter’s display, it might be illegible on a
interface for a commercial catalog may standard television.
be very different than one geared for 8. When recording, do not use old tape.
the general public. The former may Videotape that has been reused a number of
be designed to retrieve information as times may not give you a clean recording.
quickly as possible. The latter may have 9. Be paranoid. Always save your work and
more visual effects and graphics to hold back it up—back it up—back it up.
the audience’s attention.
3. Remember the old adage “form follows
function.”This concept should be applied Aesthetic Elements
when you design your product.
4. As stated, examine your distribution Element Integration. All the media ele-

venues. Are you going to use a CD- ments that compose a production should be
ROM, DVD, or the Internet? The distri- fully integrated, much like a film or televi-
bution medium may, for instance, have an sion show. There should be motivation, a
impact on the project’s graphics. For the reason, for using any given element. Do not
Internet, you may use compressed and/or use an animation, for example, simply
smaller sized graphics to speed-up the because you own animation software. Use
information relay. Similarly, if you design one for a specific goal. It can range from
a CD-ROM product, can it be readily demonstrating a new piece of equipment to
adapted for the Internet? Does your soft- serving as an attention grabbing device.
ware support this option? In one sense,
you can now approach production from Preproduction. The issue of what elements
a systems approach in regard to program to use can be worked out during a prepro-
development and distribution. duction phase, the time before the program
5. Pay attention to other technical and non- is created. The idea is to establish different
technical needs. Can your product be dis- criteria to help guide the program’s design.
tributed on multiple computer platforms? The preproduction stage also serves a more
Do you have to pay a fee for distribution practical purpose. It is less expensive to make
rights? Are you using any copyrighted changes at this stage than after the program’s
materials? Do you have permission to use final assembly.
these materials? During the preproduction phase, different
6. Check all your work on a conventional questions should be asked:
television or monitor while you are
working. Colors may not be as rich and • What is the presentation’s goal?
resolution can be lost. Some programs also • Who is the potential audience?
have an option to help ensure the colors • What are the budgetary limitations?
you use will technically conform to a tele- • What is the best way to satisfy the goal?
vision environment (e.g., NTSC-safe). For example, should video be used?
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 161

The last question is particularly important. Enhancement. Once you create your pro-
Should you use conventional video or duction, seek ways to improve your craft.
would a QuickTime clip suffice? This flex- Continue producing, watch related media
ibility is one of the hallmarks of multimedia products, including movies and television
production.The key again, though, is ensur- programs, and read.
ing the presentation’s integrity. Use a tool If you are planning a DT-V project, you
only if you have a reason to use it. can learn how music can be an effective
component by examining its role in certain
Prototyping. Besides a preproduction movies. Music can heighten the tension in
plan, you may want to prototype a small- a scene or can serve as a counterpoint to
scale version of the program.You can try out what we’re watching.This principle, observ-
your ideas and plan any necessary changes. ing for analytical purposes, also applies to
A storyboard would also be helpful. A lighting, scriptwriting, shooting, editing, and
storyboard depicts, in sequential order, the other production techniques.26
major events in a production. It can be Finally, the goal of this process should be
made of still pictures and may include audio. the development of your own style. Your
If the storyboard is computer based, you production, whether it’s video art, an elec-
may be able to use some of its components tronic catalog, or a multimedia presentation,
in the final product. These can include can have your own personal signature.With

graphics, animations, and QuickTime all the tools at your disposal, this should be
movies. an enjoyable prospect.


1. The typical abbreviation for Desktop “Getting Started with MIDI:A Guide for Begin-
Video is DTV. However, as covered in the ners,” NewMedia 1 (November/December 1991),
digital television chapter, DTV also represents 61, for additional information and for a chart that
digital television.To avoid confusion, DT-V will highlights MIDI’s storage efficiency when com-
be used when discussing desktop video. pared with conventional digitized audio.
2. Tom Yager, “Practical Desktop Video,” 7. Bruce Fraser, “Scan Handlers,” Publish
Byte 15 (April 1990), 108. (April 1992), 56.
3. David A. Harvey,“Local Bus Video,” Com- 8. The same principle applies to certain
puter Shopper (July 1992), 181. Note: This video production operations.
concept can be extended to other computer 9. Chris Cavigioli, “Image Compression:
peripherals to similarly speed up their Spelling Out the Options,” Advanced Imaging 5
performance. (October 1990), 64.
4. In some cases, there may be hardware 10. Please see Media Cleaner Pro 4 (1999)
conflicts between the peripheral you are software manual, by Terran Interactive, for an
installing and the computer; there may also be excellent discussion of compression schemes
software incompatibilities. In one example, an and their advantages/disadvantages (for ex-
updated version of a video editing program may ample, pp. 31–35).
require an updated version of the operating 11. Richard Doherty,“The MPEG-4 Product
system to run. Roll-Out: Digital Video Poised to Go the Dis-
5. When using analog video, the information tance,” Advanced Imaging 16 (February 2001), 19.
is also digitized. 12. This may include, for instance, using
6. David Miles Huber, The MIDI Manual compression to make it possible to distribute a
(Carmel, IN: SAMS, 1991), 20. See Jeff Burger, clip over the Internet.

13. Downloaded 21. Mike Sinclair, “Interactive Multimedia

from Pitches Atlanta Olympic Bid,” Advanced Imaging
sDefinition/0,sid7_gci211810,00.html. 5 (March 1990), 38.
14. When used in the telecommunications 22. The produced electronic documents
industry—to go from an analog to digital signal may present even more powerful messages than
and back—codec generally stands for coder/ their paper counterparts.
decoder. 23. Nicholas Negroponte, speech delivered
15. See Denise Salles and Judith Walthers at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, May 29, 1992.
von Alten, “Making, Playing, and Sequencing a 24. Ibid.
Movie,” Chapter 7 in Adobe Premiere User Guide 25. The same principle applies to web site
(Mountain View, CA:Adobe Systems, 1992), for designs, among other operations.
a comprehensive overview of the latter topic. 26. Relevant television programs include
16. Ben Calica, “The Clash of the Video The Twilight Zone and the PBS documentary
and Computer Worlds,” NewMedia 1 The Civil War. In cinema, the list runs the gamut
(September/October 1991), 58. from older classics to more modern films: Bat-
17. American Small Business Computers, tleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Grand Illu-
personal communication. sion,The Adventures of Robin Hood, Citizen Kane,
18. Character generators range from dedi- Casablanca, The Third Man, Psycho, The God-
cated broadcast to PC-based units. father, Raging Bull, Glory, Braveheart, The Lord of
19. Tedd Jacoby, “Old Problems, New the Rings, and Apocolypse Now. As a group, the

Answers,” Video Systems (April 1988), 80. Note: films serve as examples for production and aes-
TBCs are also used in high-end, conventional thetic principles ranging from music to lighting
editing systems. to shot composition.
20. Steve Blank,“Video Image Manipulation
with QuickTime and VideoSpigot,” Advanced
Imaging 7 (February 1992), 54.


Ashdown, Ian. “Lighting for Architects.” Com- manual is written for the Cleaner software.
puter Graphics World (August 1996), 38–46. But it is also a rich information resource
Architectural rendering, graphics, and the about compression and compression stan-
visual importance/impact of lighting (in an dards. The Waggoner book is very compre-
image). hensive and includes a companion CD.
Barnett, Peter. “Implementing Digital Com- Brain, Marshall. “How MP3 Files Work.”
pression: Picture Quality Issues for Televi- Verizon, downloaded from wysiwyg://153/
sion.” Advanced Imaging 11 (April 1996), http://www22.verizon . . .r/Articles/article/
30–33, 88; Richard Doherty. “The MPEG-4 ?articleId=1023; Karl Heintz Brandenburg.
Product Roll-Out: Digital Video Poised to “MP3 and AAC Explained.”AES 17th Inter-
Go the Distance.” Advanced Imaging 16 (Feb- national Conference on High Quality Audio
ruary 2001), 20–23; Lee J. Nelson “Video Coding, downloaded from
Compression.” Broadcast Engineering 37 publications/downloadDocument.cfm?
(October 1995), 42–46;Terran. Cleaner 5 User accessID=14703162000122117. Articles
Manual; Ben Waggoner. Compression for Great about MP3 compression and applications.
Digital Video. Berkeley, CA: CMP Books, The Brandenburg article also covers other
2002. Compression, technical concerns, compressions standards.
applications, and techniques. The Cleaner 5 Brand, Stewart. The Media Lab. New York:
Desktop Video and Multimedia Productions 163

Penguin Books, 1988. As stated in the text, Huber, David Miles. The MIDI Manual. Carmel,
the book provides an interesting look at IN: SAMS, 1991. A detailed guide to MIDI
MIT’s Media Lab. systems and operations.
Computer Graphics World. The journal is an Kelsey, Logan and Jim Feeley. “Shooting Video
excellent resource for imaging, computer for the Web.” DV (February 2000), 54–62.
animation, and related topics.Three example Desktop video techniques for Internet-based
articles are: Jenny Donelan. “Roamin’ projects.
Ruins.” Computer Graphics World 25 (August Millerson, Gerald. The Technique of Television Pro-
2002), 33–34; Martin McEachern. “Double duction. Boston: Focal Press, 1990; Herbert
Headers.” Computer Graphics World 25 (August Zettl.Television Production Handbook.Belmont,
2002), 13–24; Karen Moltenbrey.“Preserving CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.
the Past.” Computer Graphics World 24 (Sep- Video production texts. The topics include,
tember 2001), 24–30. depending on the book, field production,
De Leeuw, Ben. “Moving in Real-Time.” 3D editing, shot composition, and aesthetics.
Design (September 1998), 31–35; Craig Lyn. Negroponte, Nicholas. Being Digital. New York:
“Master Series, Part 9: Mapping.” DV Vintage Books. 1995. A fascinating look at
(January 1999), 68–69; Eni Oken. “Color. the possibilities brought about by the com-
Color Everywhere.” 3D Design (September munication and information revolution.
1998), 53–63; Michael O’Rourke. Principles of Ozer, Jan. “Building the Perfect Digital Video
Three-Dimensional Computer Animation. New Studio.” EMedia Magazine 15 (August 2002),

York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1995; Barbara 22–32; Ben Waggoner. “FireWire Gets
Robertson. “Staying Tooned.” Computer Faster.” DV 10 (October 2002), 28–32.
Graphics World 24 (July 2001), 32–38. Graph- Desktop video components and a faster
ics theory, techniques, and production; FireWire interface (including FireWire versus
Oken’s article is an excellent color primer. USB for video production applications).
Hall, Brandon.“Lessons in Corporate Training.” Wallace, Lou.“Amiga Video: Done to a T.” Ami-
NewMedia 6 (March 1996), 40–45. Corporate gaWorld (October 1990), 21–26. An initial
training and different tools and techniques. look at the Video Toaster.


Authoring Software: Software that can simplify configurations. PCs play a major role in this
and enhance the creation of a multimedia environment.
presentation. Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI): A
Compression: Compression refers to reducing MIDI interface makes it possible to link a
the amount of space required to store infor- variety of electronic musical instruments and
mation (e.g., video). Compression can also computers. The MIDI standard also enables
speed up information relays. musicians to tap a computer’s processing
Desktop Video: Advancements in video tech- capabilities.
nology have made it possible to assemble QuickTime: Apple Computer’s PC-based
cost-effective yet powerful video production digital media system.
12 The Production
Environment: Personal
Computers, Digital
Technology, and
Audio-Video Systems
Besides the desktop publishing and video Switcher configurations can also be
revolutions, another revolution is sweeping stored and later retrieved. This option
the broadcast and nonbroadcast production enables an operator to quickly reconfigure
industries. It is a revolution based on the the switcher for different production
adoption of computer and digital technolo- situations (e.g., a news show versus a
gies.This chapter covers these developments commercial).
and complementary topics.The latter range The influence of computer technology
from convergence issues to digital recording. also extends to video cameras and robotic
camera configurations. In the former,
various parameters can be set up with a
PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT AND computer-based control system, to help free
APPLICATIONS an engineer’s valuable time. In the latter,
individual camera operators are replaced by
Switchers and Cameras a robotic system. Television news and other
The switcher has benefited from the inte- production situations generally call for set
gration of computer technology. In brief, a shots. A robotic system may prove accept-
switcher is used to select the pictures pro- able in this environment.
duced by a video facility’s multiple cameras. A human operator can monitor and
It also creates visual transitions, can be used control a system’s multiple cameras with
in postproduction work, and serves other various interfaces, including graphics tablets
functions. and joysticks. Stored camera shots and move-
A computer-assisted switcher can help an ments can also be recalled, which lends itself
operator in these tasks. In one application, a to repeatability.1
complex visual effect may be required. The A robotic system may have some limita-
actions to create the effect can be prepro- tions. For example, it may not equal the
grammed, stored, and recalled at the press speed or capabilities of individual camera
of a button. This capability, to immediately operators.This is an important consideration
execute a command in the middle of a pro- for sporting events and other dynamic
duction when time is always critical, is an shoots. There may also be a cost factor, de-
important one. pending on a system’s sophistication.


cost effective, accommodate numerous ap-

plications, and allow you to tap into the free-
lance market, which is the pool of people
with PC graphics experience.4
Dedicated hardware, however, has its own
advantages. A system can handle intricate 3-
D images, digitized pictures, and large files
with a faster turnaround. The latter may be
critical for news and other time-sensitive

Nonlinear Video Editing

Computer and digital technologies have
also influenced video editing. As described,
editing can encompass the simple joining of
Figure 12.1 scenes or more complex transitions.A newer
One of the fallouts of Digital Special Effects and form of this application is PC-based non-
the communication
Graphics Systems linear editing (NLE).
revolution:The ability to

A digital special effects system, also called In brief, NLE allows you to retrieve
create sophisticated
productions with PC- a digital video effects (DVE) generator, stored audio-video sequences in random
based products.This is a manipulates a digitized picture or video se- access fashion, much like conventional com-
shot from Todd quence to create a special effect.2 The final puter data. In a PC environment, the scenes
Rundgren’s “Change product may be recorded on videotape or are stored on a computer’s hard drives for
Myself,” produced by used in real time. later use.
Rundgren using the A DVE generator can support 2-D and A linear system, in contrast, is in keeping
Video Toaster. (Courtesy 3-D effects; an example of a manipulation is with the more traditional editing method.
of NewTek, Inc.) a compressed television picture. After the You must search through a videotape to find
video signal is digitized and processed, the the specified scenes. This process ultimately
original picture can be reduced in size and eats up more time.
repositioned on the screen. The original When using an NLE system, the different
picture is still visible, but now it is physically audio-video elements are displayed on a
smaller. Similarly, you can initiate an on-air monitor as you assemble the production. In
zoom—a little “zooms in” to fill the screen. one set-up, the video material can be repre-
Other, more advanced effects include sented by video frames, which serve as visual
manipulation of an image so it appears to references for the scenes.
flip over, much like a page turning in a Some of the characteristics of working in
book. this environment are as follows:
You could use dedicated hardware or a
PC with the appropriate software for this 1. Audio-video is captured and, based on
operation. Depending on the configuration, the system, you can select different options
the PC could be less expensive, but you may (e.g., audio quality level).
pay a price in speed and flexibility.3 2. The different scenes are selected from
The same scenario applies to graphics an electronic pool or bin and are sequen-
systems. A PC can create graphics suitable tially placed on a time line. The scenes can
for a production. This setup could also be be quickly rearranged and/or deleted. For
The Production Environment 167

many individuals, this visual metaphor has

made the editing process more accessible. It
can also lead to more creative freedom.You
can rapidly experiment with edit points, dif-
ferent shot arrangements, and other produc-
tion elements.
3. Transitions between the scenes are
selected from an options list. At some point,
if you want to delete a transition, it is
a simple operation, much like deleting a
phrase with a word processing program.
4. High-end systems may complete, and
you may be able to view, dissolves and other
transitions in real-time. Less sophisticated
systems may require several or more seconds
to complete or render a transition. Hardware
acceleration, versus software-only systems,
can be an important factor in this process.
5. You can generate titles and tap a PC’s

graphics capabilities. A graphic or anima-
tion, which you create, can be imported and A
used. You can also manipulate the audio
tracks and add music.
6. You can print (record) the production
to videotape; the quality is affected by
various technical considerations.5
7. NLE systems flooded the market by
the late 1990s and early 2000s. The final
output improved while prices dropped.
Both factors helped open the field to more
users. Newer systems could also accommo-
date multiple video formats.These develop-
ments were fueled by the following:
• faster PCs
• new software/compression capabilities
• cheaper memory and hard drives
• the adoption of FireWire and other
FireWire facilitates the connection and
linkage of, for our current discussion, dif-
ferent production equipment and PCs.6 This B
standard also supports a fast data transfer rate Figure 12.2
and enables you to create a link with a single The latest generation of NLE systems provide editors with powerful tools. In these
cable. Newer video cameras, including those screen shots are tools to analyze and correct video sequences. In (A) the color
based on the Mini-DV standard, are also correction capability can be used to match the video shot with different cameras.
(Courtesy of Sonic Foundry;Vegas 4.0.)

equipped with a FireWire port. If you don’t color correction techniques should be
own a deck, you can use the camera itself to learned and practiced for their appro-
export recorded sequences to the PC. Once priate use.
edited, you can use the camera to record
your project.7
8. Although PC-based NLE systems are Audio Consoles and Editing
valuable, some factors should be taken into Audio equipment has also been influenced
consideration: by computer and digital technologies. A
• Install as much memory as you can computer-assisted audio console, for ex-
afford. ample, can help an operator to manipulate
• Be prepared for occasional lock-ups. sound elements. As covered in the previous
System freezes can occur. chapter, your voice or other audio piece can
• Digital video has a high storage over- be digitized, edited, and manipulated. In this
head, and to work efficiently and effec- production environment, you can take
tively, you may have to buy more drive advantage of random access editing and the
space than you anticipated. Follow this visual representation of the audio sequence
simple rule of thumb:When you think as a waveform on a monitor.This set-up pro-
you have enough storage, you’ll prob- vides you with aural and visual clues to help
ably need more. you quickly identify edit points.

• Although NLE systems can speed up For facilities with limited budgets, this
certain tasks, such as rearranging scenes, application is supported by professional
others may be slower. Depending on quality audio cards that work with PCs.
the system, the latter include generating Complementary software enables you to
certain transitions and effects. produce multitrack projects that can be
• Even though the visual interface can recorded on tape, a hard drive, or other
simplify the overall editing process, the media. You can also create a sequence and
software may have a high learning use it in a video-editing project.
curve. You can also buy a portable digital
• Can the system handle the quality of console for field and in-studio work. These
video as well as the format required for small consoles may pack a powerful digital
your applications? Can the program audio punch:“The new breed of console has
convert a video clip, for instance, to just about everything needed to capture,
formats compatible with DVD and edit, master, and burn audio masters, all
Internet distribution or do you have to condensed into one portable console.”8 In
use another program? essence, you can literally carry an audio
• Does the company have a good tech- studio, which can perform a series of sophis-
nical support policy? ticated functions, in your hands.
• Pay attention to aesthetics. Editing is
still a craft that must be learned and
practiced. The same concept applies to DIGITAL RECORDING
color correction. The editing system
may support powerful color correction Why Digital?
tools that can improve and enhance a Digital audio and video systems have certain
video sequence’s technical and visual advantages over their analog counterparts.
qualities. But much like editing, proper Chapter 2 covered some of these character-
The Production Environment 169

istics, which include a more robust signal. A Figure 12.3

signal’s quality is also preserved after multi- Using software, you can
ple generations, unlike a typical analog sys- create sophisticated audio
tem where the output suffers as you pro- compositions to
gressively “go down” a generation. complement a
production—in this case,
SurroundSound mixing
tools. (Courtesy of Sonic
Audio Recording and Playback Foundry;Vegas 4.0.)
A digital audiotape (DAT) machine can
record and play back digital tapes.The audio
quality is equal to a CD, and the informa-
tion can be stored on a compact cassette.
DAT’s recording and operational character-
istics have made it particularly attractive to
professionals. Studio and field machines have
been designed, time code can be supported,
and the output is excellent.
The consumer market, though, has been
a different story. On face value, DAT systems

should have been a success. Yet various
factors combined to create a flat U.S. con-
sumer response. For example, the recording
industry claimed consumers would make In the 1990s, Sony introduced a new
CD-to-DAT copies, that is, digital-to-digital digital audio format, the MiniDisc (MD).
recordings, thus potentially reducing CD The equipment line has included a compact
sales. Protection schemes were subsequently recording system with random access capa-
proposed, including the Copycode system. bility, digital quality sound, and compensa-
In practice, a DAT machine would shut tion for physical jarring. Other models were
down if it detected a special “notch” in pre- later released for the professional market,
recorded media. But this system was including a unit that could replace the tra-
dropped because it did not work all the ditional cart machine, a common fixture in
time, and some individuals indicated it most professional facilities.12
affected a playback’s quality.9 When this Digital cart systems have also appeared on
factor was combined with the threat of the market. Audio can be stored, much like
litigation against manufacturers who sold computer data, for the immediate playback
unmodified machines, the result was the flat of different audio cuts.You can also tap your
market. existing PC, if equipped with a high quality
But this picture has somewhat improved. audio card, for this application.13 Install the
DAT equipment has been embraced by software, and you are greeted by virtual
elements of the audio industry and audio- machines—on screen representations of this
philes.10 A royalty and new protection equipment.You can use your keyboard and
scheme also defused the somewhat con- mouse to subsequently control and playback
tentious atmosphere. Nevertheless, as of this the audio cuts.
writing, DAT has failed to achieve a broad- What are the advantages? Random and
based U.S. consumer acceptance.11 immediate access to the different audio

sport FireWire ports and multiple shooting

modes (e.g., wide screen).

Tapeless Systems
Tapeless systems have also become popular.
For our purpose, this term is an umbrella
phrase. It describes equipment that does not
use tape as its primary recording and/or
playback medium. These include NLE sta-
tions equipped with fast hard drives and
video servers. A video server is essentially a
high speed and high capacity information
processing/storage device analogous in
function to a traditional server used in a
LAN environment.

Figure 12.4 Advantages In one application, a server

A PC-based virtual cart tracks, computer control for playback, cost- can playback a television station’s ads.Tradi-

system can replace savings for cart machines and media (carts), tionally, a setup was expensive to maintain,
multiple, traditional cart and the reliability afforded by this environ- prone to mechanical failure, and could be
machines.The virtual ment.14 Your system may also be enhanced a complex mix of VTRs and a robotic
carts are displayed on through a software rather than a hardware control system. A server, which can require
the left; the different update (e.g., replacing expensive equip- less maintenance and operator supervision,
music cuts, which are ment), as would be the case with a conven- can replace this mechanical configuration.
subsequently loaded in tional system. This last advantage may also These devices can be more maintenance
the carts, are displayed hold true for other computer-based systems free and can run with less operator supervi-
on the right. A cart can
as well. sion.15 The end result would be a more cost-
be started at the press of
a key and can be played
efficient station.
sequentially, A tapeless environment has also been
automatically. (Software Video Recording extended to other areas. In one application,
courtesy of Broadcast As indicated at the beginning of this section, Avid helped introduce a disk-based camera for
Software International; one of the advantages of a digital VTR is fieldwork. Instead of recording video on tape,
WaveCart.) its high-quality, multigenerational capability. it is recorded on a removable drive that can be
Two earlier formats include D-1 and married to a digital editing station.Thus, you
D-2. can quickly go from a shoot to editing to on-
Other digital formats, and complemen- air.In a similar application,portable hard drives
tary equipment, have subsequently been allow you to record and then directly interface
produced. These include DVCAM and with an NLE system for postproduction
DVCPRO, two competing formats from work.16 Other cameras support optical record-
Sony and Panasonic, respectively.The Mini- ing media instead of tape.
DV, another format, emerged as a prosumer When viewed from a broad perspective,
standard supported by different manufactur- tapeless systems have other advantages:
ers. Mini-DV systems also became popular
professional tools. Cameras, for instance, are 1. Tapeless systems are less prone to physi-
compact, produce a high quality output, and cal breakdowns. There may be fewer
The Production Environment 171

mechanical components and parts to wear Disadvantages Despite its advantages,

out (e.g., a VTR’s heads). A newer gener- there are some limiting factors as we migrate
ation of equipment may also sport con- toward a tapeless environment:
trols similar to those of traditional VTRs,
thus, facilitating their acceptance and 1. Sectors of the broadcast industry are still
operation in a production environment.17 heavily invested in a tape-based standard.
2. Tape is prone to wear and tear. When Because an overnight switch would be
reused, defects, which can adversely affect a too expensive, the changes will most
playback, may surface. A tapeless system’s likely be evolutionary. The technology
playback quality should remain unchanged. base is also too new for some users—it
3. The quantity of consumables, including has not met the test of time.
replacements VTRs and tape, will be 2. Technical limitations, including potential
reduced.18 software problems, must be ironed out.20
4. A tapeless system can simultaneously Basically, if there are software failures,
serve multiple users. In a typical scenario, whole systems could be rendered
the same video clip could be accessed by inoperable.
two editors to compose different stories.19 3. System redundancy must be considered.
If a single VTR breaks in a traditional
In sum, new systems are making their way setup, another unit could easily replace it.

to the market while the performance of In contrast, how effective are the server’s
existing systems have been enhanced. The backup and replacement capabilities?
variety of products and their capabilities also 4. Depending on the application, media
offer new production options. These range costs may still be comparably high for
from the use of optical media and hard tapeless systems.Videotape and other tape
drives for recording video in the field to the formats are cost effective, especially in
creation of storage systems that may support view of their storage capacities. Hard
one or multiple users.The latter may include drives, for instance, cannot as yet match
using storage area networks (SANs) and this capacity-to-cost ratio.
other systems.
Consequently, tape will still be used for
What is the bottom line? We now have an undetermined time. This is especially
access to a diversity of storage media for true for smaller stations with limited
shooting and postproduction work that, budgets.
when used appropriately, can enhance the We may also see tape/tapeless hybrids in
workflow across an organization. It is also the interim. In one example, servers used for
important to remember that the develop- video-on-demand applications may be sup-
ments in one field may have an impact on plemented by tape systems.The server could
another. In one example, as network store frequently requested and timely infor-
technology is enhanced, be it through the mation while other programming could be
communications line itself or other compo- archived on tape. When requested, it would
nents/software, it will have an impact in the be transferred to the server and delivered.
audio-video production field. Finally, please Data tape, rather than videotape, may also be
see the Suggested Readings section for used for archival purposes.21 Ultimately, in
detailed information about SAN-based this type of environment, we could draw on
technology/products and other storage the relative strengths offered by both tech-
options. nologies and media.22

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT program, and scriptwriting software has

AND OPERATIONS been released to support this function. The
software can help free you from numbering
Computers have been adopted for informa- scenes, formatting dialogue, and other time-
tion management and control operations. consuming mechanical chores.The software
These include scriptwriting, newsroom completes these functions, and you can con-
automation, and computerizing a station’s centrate on writing.
traffic and sales departments. Even though A program typically supports a standard
Figure 12.5 these tasks may not be as visible as the pro- two-column television script and other for-
Multiple videotape duction end of a facility, they are nonethe- mats. It may also link specific column sec-
formats have coexisted less vital. tions. If changes are made, the correspond-
for years.This includes ing audio or video section tags along.
the S-VHS (right) and Scriptwriting, Budgets, and News The scriptwriting process can be further
the newer, high quality
A critical job in any production facility is enhanced through supporting programs. In
Mini-DV formats (left).
scriptwriting. The script is the heart of a one instance, software can be used to create
Note the size difference.
a storyboard, essentially a road map of a pro-
duction. A storyboard can help you visual-
ize the final product, and it may even be
possible to use short digital video clips with

other media.
Other specialized and general release pro-
grams are also widely used. For budgets,
spreadsheets can track business expenses,
crew fees, travel and postproduction costs,
and equipment rentals. Another option
includes the use of CAD programs for facil-
ity design.
For news, computer technology has
helped transform the traditional news de-
partment into an electronic newsroom. By inte-
grating hardware and software, different tasks
are enhanced. For example, wire service
stories can be fed directly to a computer.
This information can be retrieved, printed,
and saved.
A news department can also establish an
electronic news morgue.23 As part of a net-
worked operation, reporters and editors can
gain access to current and past stories.
Digital video clips and other information
could likewise be accommodated, particu-
larly as compression techniques improve.
This digital vision, where information is
networked and is readily accessible, could
facilitate the overall production and news
processes. Digital video workstations, for
The Production Environment 173

Figure 12.6
Computers play a key
role in the broadcast
industry. In this
example, they are used
to produce shots for
weather forecasting.
(Courtesy of
AccuWeather Inc.)

instance, could enable journalists, who may service feed to a single PC. In another
have traditionally worked in a text-based setting, an integrated system that links the
environment, to tap into video and related newsroom with the production end can be
resources. For facilities with limited person- created. In fact, this principle has been
nel, the same individual could write and extended to tie various pieces of equipment
edit the story, potentially all on the same in a central control network. It could poten-
desktop.24 tially encompass the entire facility.25
Depending on the manufacturer and
package, other applications could be sup-
ported. These include an interface to the Operations and Information
station’s production facilities where the Management
newscast’s text could be fed to a prompter Various media organizations have adopted
and a closed captioning setup. A prompter is computers for marketing research. Arbitron,
a device used by on-air talent to maintain for one, has served the broadcast industry for
good eye contact with a camera while years. The company has tapped computer
reading news copy. Closed captions are the technology to speed up the delivery of
normally invisible subtitles for programming information to client stations and to support
that can be displayed on a television set different audience measuring techniques.
through a special decoder. The company even investigated an artificial
Consequently, a product can be used intelligence-based passive system that could
alone, as may be the case with a newswire identify viewers without prompting.26

Figure 12.7
An example of a virtual
set—a computer
generated set that could
be used for a news
program. Powerful
computers and software
have made it possible to
create customized
environments that may
otherwise be impossible
to build (e.g., money
and time constraints).
(Courtesy of Evans and
Sutherland. Copyright
2000, Evans and
Sutherland Computer

Besides Arbitron, companies have sup- program director to devise the music rota-
ported telephone surveys with software. In tion schedule—the list of songs played
brief, questionnaires could be designed and during the day.
the data collected and analyzed to reveal Programs have also accommodated traffic
the audience’s characteristics. In one typical duties. Log maintenance is an essential task,
application, these new insights could be used and computers have sped up this process.
to attract a specific demographic group. A program could also automate the
scheduling of commercials, and sales force
performance could be evaluated in different
Programming, Traffic, and Sales categories.An accounting package may then
Software can also be used as an organiza- be used to complete a comprehensive sys-
tional and managerial tool. A package can tem that could cover everything from music
generate a detailed list of a day’s program- rotation to commissions. Accounting soft-
ming events and can handle other jobs. A ware performs a multitude of billing, payroll,
radio station serves as an example. and projection functions.
In one application, a program can support Other packages and hardware support
a music library, essentially a sophisticated station automation—running a station with
database. Depending on the system, songs a minimum of human intervention. Systems
can be cross-referenced, coded according to can range from sophisticated to PC-based
their tempo and intensity, and linked to age operations that can automatically play a
group and demographic appeal codes.These series of prerecorded songs and commercials
data are useful in attracting specific audi- for a local radio station. In one application,
ences. Similarly, the software may help a once programmed, an educational station
The Production Environment 175

with a limited student staff could remain on uation—for example, a video camera’s signal
the air even during the summer and holi- would be immediately digitized. This pro-
days. cess would streamline certain operations and
could help preserve a signal’s integrity.
In view of its superiority, engineers are
CONCLUSION designing such digital facilities. This devel-
opment also complements the creation of a
The broadcast and nonbroadcast worlds fully integrated facility that can tie differ-
have been influenced by computer and ent equipment and systems in a centralized
digital technologies. Some of these effects communications and control network. Al-
have included the following: though stand-alone systems will continue to
be used, the trend is to unite these elements,
• the introduction of new audio systems as may be the case with an automated
• the widespread adoption of digital and station.
tapeless recording systems But even though these tools are power-
• the birth of the electronic newsroom ful, they still require human input. For a
• the ability to create amazing visual effects graphics system, this may be the creative
• the impetus for an all-digital production ability to visualize a graphic and the skill and
facility aesthetic judgment to execute the final

The last item can be considered an evolu- All of these developments have “pushed
tionary process. Digital equipment initially the envelope.” Only this time, it is a creative
had to operate in what was an analog sea, envelope, and one whose potential may be
and an all-digital plant would reverse the sit- unlimited.


1. Robert Saltarelli, “Robotic Camera erational status, as has the USB connection. But
Control: A News Director’s Tool,” SMPTE unlike the current USB standard, FireWire is
Journal 100 (January 1991), 23. designed to accommodate a high and sustained
2. DVE is a registered trademark of NEC data rate and flow—as is the case with a video
America, Inc. production environment.
3. You also need an interface to transfer the 7. Using the camera for these tasks can,
digital information from the computer to, for however, have an impact on its operational life-
instance, a VCR. time—the extra wear and tear.
4. Linda Jacobson, “Mac Looks Good in 8. Andre Rocke. “Reduce Your Drag.”
Video Graphics,” sidebar in “Macs Aid Corpo- Videography 28 (January 2003), 22.
rate Video Production,” Macweek (December 3, 9. Brian C. Fenton, “Digital Audio
1991), 40. Tape,” Radio-Electronics 58 (October 1987),
5. These include the system’s capabilities, the 78.
quality of the video, and the compression ratio 10. An audiophile, like a videophile,
(if relevant) when the video is captured. demands the best performance from equip-
6. Frank Beacham, “Camcorders Take ment—in this case, audio equipment.
Another Great Leap,” TV Technology 13 11. Part of the problem is the lack of soft-
(November 1995), 1. Note: The standard has also ware, prerecorded music tapes. For details, see
been enhanced and has moved to a multigen- Jenna Dela Cruz,“Digital Audiotape,” in August

E. Grant, ed., Communication Technology Update 21. Mark Ostlund, “Multichannel Video
(Boston: Focal Press, 1994), 259. Server Applications in TV Broadcasting and
12. Ken C. Pohlmann, “Digital I/Os Added Post-Production,” SMPTE Journal 105 (January
to Sony’s Latest MD,” Radio World 19 (March 1996), 11.
22, 1995), 4. 22. Claire Tristram, “Bottleneck Busters,”
13. There are also dedicated audio systems NewMedia 5 (April 1995), 53.
designed for this application. 23. The idea of security is an important one
14. These include the elimination of tape— since a newsroom computer, like any other
via the cart—breakage and media replacement. computer, may be vulnerable. The electronic
15. Claire Tristram, “Stream On: Video newsroom should also be equipped with
Servers in the Real World,” NewMedia 5 (April backup systems to maintain at least a basic level
1995), 49. of operation in times of emergency, when the
16. This has included the DTE Technology automated system may be rendered inoperable.
line of drives that were compatible with a For information, see William A. Owens,“News-
variety of NLE systems. room Computers . . . Another View,” sidebar in
17. Please see Mark J. Foley, “VTR Killer,” James McBride, “Newsroom Computers,” Tele-
Videography 28 (April 2003), 22 for an example vision Engineering (May 1990), 31.
of such a system. 24. McConnell, “Curt Rawley: Avid Advo-
18. Chris McConnell, “Curt Rawley: Avid cate for a Disk-Based Future,” 65.
Advocate for a Disk-Based Future,” Broadcasting 25. Conversation with Basys Automation

& Cable (April 3, 1995), 64. Systems, October 1992. Note: A still store
19. Avid, “Server Control Production,” “stores” images for later retrieval and display.
Across Avid 2 (Issue 1), 6. 26. The Arbitron Company, “At Arbitron,
20. Peter Adamiak et al., “Digital Servers,” These Technologies Aren’t Just a Vision,They’re
Broadcasting & Cable (April 3, 1995), insert, S-3. Reality,” brochure.


Braverman, Barry. “Understanding Your Chan, Curtis. “Advances in DAT Recorders.”

Camera’s CCD.” DV 11 (March 2003), Broadcast Engineering 36 (August 1994),
22–30; Ken Kerschbaumer. “SONY Pushes 34–40; John G. Garrett. “Really Remote
Tapeless ENG.” Broadcasting & Cable (Febru- Audio.” DV 10 (July 2002), 42–50; Dave
ary 10, 2003), 1, 38.The first article is a com- Hansen. “Broadcast and Production Audio
prehensive overview of CCD-based cameras Consoles.” Broadcast Engineering 44 (Septem-
and production techniques. ber 2002), 58–66; A look at DAT—early to
Broadcast Engineering is an important publication more recent systems—and other audio
for the broadcast industry. Sample articles that concerns.
covered various issues include: Steve Epstein. Christiansen, Mark. “Creating Realtime 3D
“The Advantages of Tape.” 39 (February Graphics for Broadcast.” DV 8 (May 2000),
1997), 100–102; David Hopkins. “Digital 46–54; Francis Hamit. “Imaging and Effects
Effects Systems: Moving to Software-Based at Star Trek: New Universes to Conquer.”
Open Systems.” 39 (February 1997), 88–92; Advanced Imaging 10 (April 1995), 22–24;
Robert Streeter and Thomas Drewke. Barbara Robertson. “The Grand Illusion.”
“NBC’s Newsroom Communication Computer Graphics World 21 (January 1998),
System.” 44 (August 2002), 74–76; Tom 23–34; Barbara Robertson.“Reality Check.”
Tucker. “Audio-to-Video Delay Systems for Computer Graphics World 24 (August 2001),
DTV.” 40 (November 1998), 82–85. 24–32; Roger Thorton. “Paintbox Re-Born
The Production Environment 177

for the Modern Age.” Videography. 27 2001), 517–522; Storage Network Industry
(December 2002), 52–56. Computer graph- Association ( Information
ics and special effects. about SANs and other storage systems/pro-
Christiansen, Mark.“The Theory Behind Color.” duction applications; the SNIA web site also
DV 9 (August 2001), 36–44; Jim Farmer. features white papers and other information
“Observing China’s Cable TV Market.” CTI about SANs systems.
12 (March 2001), 24–31; Steve Hullfish and Douglas, Peter. “Automating Master Control for
Jaime Fowler. Color Correction for Digital Video. Multichannel.” Broadcast Engineering 40 (April
Berkeley, CA: CMP Books, 2003; Oliver 1998), 106–111; Ken Kerschbaumer. “Reshap-
Peters. “And You Thought It Was a Simple ing Broadcasting.”Broadcasting & Cable (October
Decision!” Videography 28 (January 2003), 14, 2002), 30–36.Automation systems.
40–44. Miscellaneous topics; the color correc- Houston,Brant.Computer-Assisted Reporting.New
tion book provides a comprehensive and prac- York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996; Stevan Vigneaux.
tical view of this field and complementary “Digital News Gathering on a Desktop.”
techniques. It includes a companion CD. Broadcast Engineering 35 (September 1993),
Davidoff, Frank. “The All Digital Studio.” 50–56. Practical guide for learning computer-
SMPTE Journal 89 (June 1980), 445–449; based tools for journalists and nonlinear
Arielle Emmett. “Better Calling by Design.” editing, production, and news operations.
CustomerInterface 14 (November 2001), 21– Ostlund, Mark. “Multichannel Video Server
23; Christian Mitchell.“Planning New Facil- Applications in TV Broadcasting and Post-

ities.” Broadcast Engineering 43 (May 2001), Production.” SMPTE Journal 105 ( January
68–73; D. Nasse et al. “An Experimental All- 1996), 8–12; Karl Paulsen.“Servers Found on
Digital Television Center.” SMPTE Journal 95 Video Menu.” TV Technology 14 (February 9,
(January 1986), 13–19; Michel Prouix and 1996), 44–45, 65;Todd Roth.“Video Servers:
Randy Conrod. SMPTE Journal 104 (Sep- Shared ‘Storage’ for Cost-Effective Realtime
tember 1995), 582–587. Early to more recent Access.” SMPTE Journal 107 (January 1998),
(including digital) studio design; the Emmett 54–57; Claire Tristram. “Stream On: Video
article covers call center design—but certain Servers in the Real World.” NewMedia 5
features are also applicable for production (April 1995), 46–51.Video server applications
facilities (e.g., ergonomic furniture). and operations.
De Lancie, Philip. “Storage Scenarios.” DV 11 Reed, Kim. “FireWire’s Future.” DV ( January
(April 2003), 38–43; Ken Paulsen. “Prospec- 1999), 35–44. Excellent look at FireWire.
tive for Global Storage Networks.” TV Tech- Yamanaka, Noritada et al. “An Intelligent
nology 19 (June 13, 2001), 34–36; Greg Robotic Camera System.” SMPTE Journal
Reitman. “Streaming Video with Storage 104 (January 1995), 23–25. Intelligent robotic
Area Networks.” SMPTE Journal 110 (August camera systems enhance operations.


Audio Console: The component that controls quality. DATs have also been used for com-
microphones, CD players, and other audio puter data backups.
equipment. Digital Effects Generator: A production compo-
Computer-Assisted Editing: The process of using nent that digitizes and manipulates images to
a computer to help streamline and enhance produce visual special effects.
the editing process. Electronic Newsroom: A newsroom equipped
Digital Audiotape (DAT): A recordable digital with computers for newswriting, creating
tape system that can match a CD’s audio databases, and other functions.

Graphics Generator: The component that is used Switcher: The video component that is used to
to create computer graphics. The graphics select a production’s camera and videotape
can be produced either with special dedi- sources. It can also be used in postproduction
cated stations or PCs. work and may incorporate computer tech-
MiniDisc (MD): A newer digital audio system. nology.
Nonlinear Video Editing (NLE): Allows you to Tapeless Systems: An umbrella phrase describing
retrieve stored video sequences in random equipment that doesn’t use tape as the
access fashion, much like conventional com- primary recording and/or playback medium.
puter data. In a PC environment, the scenes
are digitized, and a visual interface is used for
13 Digital Television and
Digital Audio

This chapter focuses on digital television Background

(DTV), an application designed to produce
an enhanced television display. High defini- Japan and CBS. The Japan Broadcasting
tion television (HDTV), which can fall Corporation, NHK, has been one of the
under the DTV designation, has been a goal world leaders in the HDTV field, and its
of companies and countries for years. The personnel conducted breakthrough research.
chapter concludes with an overview of an This included experiments to test technical
analogous system geared for radio, digital and nontechnical parameters, such as the
audio broadcasting (DAB). relationship between the number of lines
in a picture, the optimum viewing distance
from a screen, and the screen’s size. For
HIGH DEFINITION TELEVISION example, viewers judged the quality of tele-
vision pictures composed of different lines of
High definition television was touted as the resolution from various distances.2 These
new premier television standard. Its display considerations were then weighed against
would visually approach the quality of film, bandwidth limitations and other factors.
and the system would support an enhanced NHK also developed HDTV equipment
audio signal.1 and held trial HDTV transmissions in its
An HDTV set would also have a 16:9 own country and the United States.
aspect ratio, that is, the ratio between a In the United States, CBS was an early
screen’s width and height. In contrast to a HDTV supporter. The company promoted
conventional 4:3 configuration, an HDTV a two-channel, 1050-line component
screen would present a more powerful scheme, in contrast to NHK’s 1125-line
image to viewers. configuration. The CBS operation was also
The push for HDTV, which was included designed for a DBS relay. A 525-line signal
under the Advanced Television (ATV) des- and enhanced picture information would
ignation, stemmed from a natural process: have been carried in two separate channels.
the improvement of technology and the A receiver would have combined both to
growth that takes place in any industry.The produce a 5:3 HDTV display.3 For viewers
trend toward larger television screens accel- without HDTV receivers, the single 525-
erated this research. In general, as the screen line channel would have been converted for
size increases, the picture quality decreases. viewing on conventional sets.
But HDTV and other digital systems can The work conducted by NHK, CBS,
provide enhanced displays. and others helped spur the HDTV field’s


Figure 13.1
Engineers set up the
encoding room at the
foot of the transmission
tower at WRC-
TV/Washington in
preparation for the first
over-the-air digital
HDTV simulcast, in
September 1992.
(Courtesy of the
Advanced Television
Research Consortium;

growth. This development has also been an Other issues stemmed from the European
evolutionary one, with a minor revolution Community’s overall goal to promote
thrown in to boot. The evolutionary phase European technologies and programming.
encompassed an emerging infrastructure In the United States, official support was
built to support HDTV productions and initially given for a standard based on Japan’s
relays.The revolution was the birth of an all- system. But this support faded as the
digital system. prospect for a global standard faded.5
Another factor was the American semi-
Global Issues conductor industry.To some, HDTV repre-
sented this industry’s future, since HDTV
“He who controls the spice, controls the universe.”
systems would be heavily tied to semicon-
—From the movie version of Dune.
ductor technology.6 The semiconductor
During the 1980s, attempts were made to industry claimed that if the United States
create an international standard. There was was not a leading HDTV manufacturer, the
some progress, but technical, political, and country’s overall semiconductor industry
economic issues stood in the way. One could suffer and, by extension, PC and
problem was a concern that Japan would dependent markets.
gain an edge if its HDTV system dominated Thus, an international consensus could
the industry. By extension, the situation not be reached. It was feared the country
could have affected consumer electronics that dominated this industry would have a
sales. hammerlock on a multibillion-dollar busi-
For Europe, manufacturers believed their ness and related industries.
home markets could have been swamped This concern and perception is best
by Japanese-manufactured HDTV goods.4 summed up by the line that opened this
Digital Television and Digital Audio Broadcasting 181

section, from Dune, Frank Herbert’s classic tions translated into tight channel require-
science fiction work: “He who controls the ments for broadcasters. Cable and satellite
spice, controls the universe.” Only in this operators had more flexibility and could
case, the spice was HDTV.7 launch, as another option, HDTV pay

United States Evolution and Revolution. The FCC

refined its decision in the early 1990s by
History. Much of the focus and regulatory announcing its support for simulcasting. In
maneuvering in the United States has been this operation, a station would continue to
on the terrestrial system, over the air broad- relay a standard signal. The station would
casts. This is a reflection of the system’s then be assigned a second channel for an
unique status. Unlike cable or another HDTV relay. This approach was viewed
optional service, terrestrial broadcasts are by some as having an important advantage
free. Even though the industry is supported over using an augmentation channel. With
by commercials, we do not pay a set fee to simulcasting, the new system would not
view the programming. be tied to the NTSC standard.Thus, a supe-
The FCC accelerated the development rior, noncompatible standard could be
of HDTV operations in the late 1980s and developed.8

early 1990s. In a 1988 decision, for example, The final piece to the puzzle was added
the agency supported, at least for terrestrial when the FCC, led by Chairman Alfred
transmissions, a configuration that would Sikes, encouraged the development of a
conform to existing channel allocations and digital system. If successful, this configura-
would be backward compatible. tion would have advantages over analog
An HDTV relay also packs in more operations.
information than a standard relay. For the Consideration was also given to a flexible
United States, it would exceed, under nor- standard that could handle future growth.
mal circumstances, current 6-MHz channel Three terms were associated with this
allotments. Thus, various organizations at- philosophy: scalability, extensibility, and
tempted to develop a system that operated interoperability.
within these constraints.
In one example, the David Sarnoff In a scalable video system, the aspect ratio,
Research Center supported its upgradable number of frames per second and the number of
configuration, the Advanced Compatible scan lines can be adjusted . . . to the requirements
of the individual picture . . . or viewer’s choice.
Television (ACTV) system. Under ACTV-I,
Extensibility means that a new television system
an enhanced picture, but not one equal to
must be able to operate on diverse display tech-
the 1125-line standard, would have been nologies . . . and be adaptable for use with new,
relayed over existing channels. At some higher resolution displays developed in the future.
future date, an augmentation channel, a Interoperability means a television system can
second channel with enhanced information, function at any frame rate on a variety of display
would have been integrated in the system devices.9
(ACTV-II) to produce a higher quality
picture. Basically, part of the deliberation process
Related issues have included the differ- was the consideration of a standard that
ences between the broadcast, cable, and could accommodate different configurations
satellite industries. Limited spectrum alloca- and enhancements.

In preparation for this development, members of the Grand Alliance [an “alliance”
several proposed terrestrial systems were of initial HDTV competitors that joined forces]
scheduled for testing by the Advanced . . . . The technology provides a variety of formats
Television Test Center. Following the tests, that will allow broadcasters to select the one
the FCC was slated to select a standard in appropriate for their program material, from
very high resolution providing the best possible
early 1993, which was subsequently moved
picture quality to multiple programs of lower res-
to a later date. olutions, which could result in more choices for
The FCC was also working on a terres- viewers. Even at the lower resolutions, the rec-
trial broadcast timetable.This covered items ommended system represents a clear improve-
such as the length of time conventional ment over the current NTSC standard. The
broadcasts would be supported. recommended system also permits transmission of
But many broadcasters were not happy text and data.12
with these decisions. Since DTV would be
The proposed standard’s video compression
a new ball game, both producers and con-
was based on MPEG-2. A relay would also
sumers would have to buy new equipment
sport an enhanced audio output.
to play HDTV.10 The cost would be partic-
For the broadcast industry, a station would
ularly painful for small market stations, even
not be locked into a single format. There
with eventual price reductions as equipment
was an option for “multiple simultaneous”
became widely available.
standard definition or digital television

Other broadcasters, at this time, were

(SDTV) relays. While not true HDTV, a
dissatisfied with the FCC’s timetable and
station could accommodate multiple feeds.13
mandate. It was proposed the second alloca-
tion could be used for digital multichannel
television relays, or possibly, for interactive A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to
and/or data services. The goal was to High Definition Television. Zero Mostel
provide broadcasters with additional pro- and a supporting cast helped make A Funny
gramming options so they could better Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum a hit
compete with cable and satellite services. play and movie. In 1996, the computer and
Eventually, HDTV relays could be phased film industries, among others, helped bring
in. the standards adoption process to a crashing
halt.The proposed standard ran into a tech-
The Mid-1990s: A New Name and Stan- nical roadblock.
dard. After this initial work, a standard was As stated by FCC Chairman Reed
finally hammered out, which now fell under Hundt, who also expressed his own
the DTV designation. It was recommended concerns,
to the FCC as the U.S. digital television
standard.11 As summed up in an FCC . . . the dedicated and hard-working members
document, of the Advisory Committee tried in good faith to
produce a consensus standard. Unfortunately, they
The Commission proposed adopting, as the tech- did not succeed. Important players in two huge
nology for terrestrial broadcast in the United American industries—Silicon Valley and Holly-
States, the Advanced Television Committee wood—object strongly to some elements of the
(ATSC) DTV standard. . . . The proposed stan- standard. These groups support much of the
dard is the culmination of over eight years of work Grand Alliance’s work . . .
by the federal Advisory Committee on Advanced But the failure to reach consensus over the
Television Services (ACATS), the ATSC, the interlaced format and the aspect ratio [my emphasis]
Advanced Television Test Center (ATTC), and the has led to a time-consuming and important
Digital Television and Digital Audio Broadcasting 183

debate in which all advocates are making serious


It was a contentious atmosphere. Opponents

indicated, for instance, that scanning and
aspect ratio incompatibilities would hamper
the marriage between computer and televi-
sion products and would have an impact on
the film industry. Supporters countered that
the other industries were included in the
standards deliberation process. More point-
edly, this was essentially a television broad-
cast standard—the broadcast industry should
take the lead.15 Other contributing elements
included the Dune factor, convergence, and
the government.
now, the broadcast and computer industries, Figure 13.2
• Dune factor:Which industry was going to among others, could support different An HDTV display.
control the flow of “digital media coming display formats (e.g., different types of scan- Note the size and shape

into the home,” basically, who was going ning). The deal helped clear the road for of the screen compared
to control the spice?16 This had broad digital television. with the typical TV in
economic implications for broadcasters current use. (Courtesy of
and computer manufacturers, among the Advanced Television
other players. Research Consortium;
Other Considerations AD-HDTV.)
• Convergence: What were once separate Other key issues have shaped the DTV land-
entities, such as the broadcast and com- scape. Examples include the following:
puter industries, were now competing as
well as collaborating with each other. 1. Regular HDTV broadcasts began in
Because multiple industries had an inter- the United States on April 1999, on The
est in DTV, it became the game ball to Tonight Show.19 Only special programming,
toss about. including coverage of John Glenn’s launch
• The government: The U.S. government on a space shuttle mission, were broadcast
was seemingly unwilling to grapple with prior to this time in HDTV.20
this “hot potato.” The FCC was divided, 2. The number of hours of DTV pro-
and since it was an election year, it was gramming is increasing with each passing
suggested the Clinton administration did year. According to the National Association
not want to anger any particular group by of Broadcasters (NAB), by early 2003, 97%
taking sides.17 of U.S.TV households could receive one or
more signals.21
In late 1996, however, a consensus was 3. Although much of the media focus has
reached. As described in a Broadcasting & been on over the air broadcasting, other
Cable article, the “deal called for the adop- media outlets can deliver digital program-
tion of the Grand Alliance standard minus ming, potentially on an optional basis and
the controversial picture formats that had on a more flexible timetable. DirecTV, for
divided the industries.”18 Basically, the core one, helped pioneer the delivery of digital
of the original proposal was retained. But signals to consumers.

4. A 2002 GAO report indicated that working on a tower, be it a new or an exist-

many Americans were vaguely, if at all aware, ing structure.27
of the DTV transition.22 Consequently, as 8. An DTV system could have numerous
broadcasters hurled toward this digital nontelevision applications. A display could
realm, many Americans were not coming be attractive for videoconferencing activi-
along for the ride—if they knew that it even ties, as described in another chapter.A satel-
existed. This did not bode well for a quick lite could also deliver signals to special movie
and widespread adoption, at least during the theaters equipped with large, high-resolution
early years of the DTV rollout. This situa- screens. The programming could include
tion was exacerbated by consumer confu- movies, concerts, and sporting events.
sion over “true” HDTV and DTV units and Stations could also support datacasting—
programming.23 using their channels to handle “everything
5. Stations would stop their analog trans- from broadcasting stock quotes to down-
missions at a designated date.24 A station loading an electronic catalog.”28 As demon-
would subsequently surrender its second strated in early 2000, stations could “create
channel for release for other services. A web sites with multiple streams of video and
station could receive an extension, however, broadcast them to PCs over their DTV
based on market conditions.25 channels.”29 Stations could also support, as
Money is also a key player in this scenario. described, multiple SDTV relays of more

As envisioned, portions of the recovered conventional programming.

spectrum space were slated for the auction 9. The United States was not alone in
block. DTV developments. In Europe, for instance,
6. The FCC adopted different measures a new satellite-based service, Euro1080, was
to help speed-up DTV integration. For proposed in the early 2000s. One applica-
example, the Commission proposed that tion called for delivering programs to suit-
DTV tuners, which would receive over ably equipped theaters or electronic
the air broadcasts, would be required for cinemas.30 But as has been the case with the
13-inch and larger TV sets. A timetable was United States, progress for global terrestrial
established for the plan’s gradual DTV operations was mixed.
implementation.26 10. Ultimately, the central question as to
But various consumer groups and manu- DTV’s success lies in consumer hands. Does
facturers were against this measure. The the average consumer want DTV? Is the
Consumer Electronics Association, for ex- average consumer willing, for instance, to
ample, indicated that many Americans re- pay a substantially higher price for true
ceived their programming through cable or HDTV sets?
satellite—a tuner would not be necessary in Japan could serve as an example. When
these cases. A tuner would also make a set first introduced, only a limited number of
more expensive. Even though costs would true and expensive HDTV sets were sold.
drop over time, the added expense could be In contrast, an enhanced definition wide-
a financial burden. screen system was more successful. Conse-
7. One or more obstacles may have quently, is HDTV that critical?31 Or is an
delayed a station’s DTV implementation improved picture, on a wider screen, a more
timetable. They ranged from monetary—to important factor for consumer acceptance?
pay for the conversion—to problems with This scenario has been supported in some
the broadcast tower. The latter included U.S. studies. In one case, it is believed that
bad weather, which would interfere with some consumers could opt for a less expen-
Digital Television and Digital Audio Broadcasting 185

sive alternative to buying an HDTV set.This

could include using a set-top converter
boxes rather than an HDTV set.32
11. In a related area, will PCs be used for
entertainment and information program-
ming? Will the PC, or television set for that
matter, emerge as the core of an advanced
home entertainment and information
center? enhance radio program delivery/quality Figure 13.3
and, if possible, to bring it to the digital Side-by-side comparisons
age. of standard and HDTV
Conclusion Pioneered in Canada and Europe, digital sets. Note the aspect
As of the early- to mid-2000s, the DTV audio broadcasting (DAB) can deliver a CD- ratio and size differences.
(Courtesy of the
field was in a fluid state. While there were quality audio relay. This was extended to a
Advanced Television
major advances, the widespread adoption of satellite-based operation, a satellite digital Research Consortium;
HDTV sets, for instance, remained some- audio radio service (SDARS), which would AD-HDTV.)
what unfulfilled.The problems ranged from serve car owners, among others, through a
broadcast station implementation delays to roof-mounted antenna.35
expensive HDTV sets to lackluster con- A frequency allocation (L-band), granted

sumer demand. Other issues include: during a 1992 World Administrative Radio
Conference, was initially supported. But
• Copyright concerns: Broadcasters, for the United States backed another plan since
one, supported an anti-copying or piracy this allocation was already used for other
system (broadcast flag) to prevent the dis- services.
tribution of digital programming via the The National Association of Broadcasters
Internet and other conduits. In contrast, (NAB), for its part, was cautious in its
opponents believed such a system would approach toward the technology. It “recom-
infringe on consumer rights. mended that any domestic inauguration of
• Cable companies carrying DTV DAB be on a terrestrial only basis, with
programming.33 existing broadcasters given first opportunity
• The charge that most stations were oper- to employ the technology.”36 Broadcasters
ating low rather than high power “DTV should be given the first crack at this tech-
facilities.”34 This had technical (e.g., recep- nology, not potentially competing services.
tion problems) and other implications. This recommendation stemmed from
• Even more acronyms to remember.When two related concerns. The first was that a
reading further about DTV, you may run satellite-delivered service could adversely
across the term DTT—it simply means affect the broadcast industry. The second
digital terrestrial television. concern was localism—an SDARS opera-
tion could not match a conventional radio
station’s public interest commitment to the
In contrast, companies that proposed
History satellite-delivered services indicated there
Much like DTV, companies and govern- were numerous benefits. National program-
ments worked to improve radio and related ming could supplement local radio broad-
audio systems. What is the bottom line? To casts. Listeners with limited radio choices

could also have a broader selection, while higher quality broadcasts. As stated by the
pay services and narrowcasting could be FCC,
supported. A complementary terrestrial and
satellite system could likewise develop. The iBiquity IBOC system is spectrum-efficient
Other factors also played a role in this in that it can accommodate digital operations for
process.This included work on in-band on- all existing AM and FM radio stations with no
channel (IBOC) systems. Briefly, special additional allocation of spectrum. The NRSC
techniques could make it possible to relay tests show that both AM and FM IBOC systems
offer enhanced audio fidelity and increased
digital programming using existing alloca-
robustness to interference and other signal impair-
tions. This configuration could accommo-
ments. Coverage for both systems would be at
date, at least in terms of spectrum space, the least comparable to analog coverage. Considering
current radio broadcast industry. Much like that iBiquity’s IBOC systems achieve these objec-
DTV, it could also provide stations with an tives in the hybrid mode, in which the relatively
upgrade path to digital relays.38 low-powered digital signal must coexist with
By the mid-1990s, little had changed on more powerful analog signals, we expect that
the domestic front. U.S. efforts were still audio fidelity and robustness will improve greatly
unfocused even though the international with all-digital operation.42
community had, with some reservations,
adopted the Eureka-147 DAB standard.39 Much like DTV, analog and digital

The debate between radio broadcasters and broadcasts would coexist. New receivers
satellite operators also continued, especially equipped with the proper components
in light of the FCC’s decision to allocate would subsequently receive the digital
spectrum “for a satellite-based industry.”40 signal. Potentially, this path could lead to the
But the FCC also repeated its support for implementation of an all-digital radio
local broadcasters. broadcasting system. Analog relays would be
phased-out and additional services, which
would tap this digital capability, could be
3. Satellite-based systems also made a big
1. In late 1999, the FCC began a rule- move in the early 2000s. XM Satellite Radio
making procedure to explore the possible Incorporated, for instance, offered an array
ways to initiate digital audio broadcasting. of digital channels through two geostation-
The goal? To create a digital broadcast path ary satellites and a supplemental repeater
that terrestrial station owners could follow. network.44 You could listen to music ranging
The criteria would include the capability to from rock to classical and jazz by using a
launch enhanced audio services without dis- small receiver and antenna.As an option, you
rupting the current infrastructure. could purchase a portable system that could
2. The FCC investigated and approved a be transferred between cars and likewise be
hybrid IBOC system in the early 2000s.41 used in the home. You could also order a
Developed by the iBiquity Digital Corpo- new car with satellite radio capability.
ration, its HD radio technology provided Unlike a broadcast station, the XM
broadcasters with a digital option while service was more like cable or satellite tele-
maintaining their current infrastructure. vision—you paid a subscriber fee for the
More pointedly, it provided for an efficient service.When first introduced, it was under
spectrum use plan that could deliver $10 a month.
Digital Television and Digital Audio Broadcasting 187

Figure 13.4
The DAB arena was volatile. Different pro-
A view of DTV
posals were floated to offer broadcasters a developments. A GAO
digital option, much like their television survey asked the
counterparts. For some, a key factor was question: If there wasn’t
providing broadcasters with a tool to a government mandate,
compete with their satellite-based competi- when would your station
tors. The latter, for their part, offered con- begin DTV broadcasts?
sumers a new, high quality service, which The answer: Many
could provide national coverage with a current DTV stations
broad range of music programming options. reported they would
As was the case with DTV, however, the have “broadcast digitally
by the end of 2002
question was one of consumer acceptance—
. . . most transitioning
would enough individuals buy a system
stations . . . would have
and/or become a subscriber? begun broadcasting
digitally much later
. . .”; some stations
REFERENCES/NOTES would not initiate DTV
broadcasts. Current

DTV stations are
1. Technically speaking, it may not equal ATV Fight,” Broadcasting & Cable (October 21, represented by the first
film’s resolution. 1996), 6. bar for a given year;
2. Tetsuo Mitsuhashi, “Scanning Specifica- 12. FCC, News Report No. DC 96-42; transitioning stations by
tions and Picture Quality,” NHK Technical Mono- “Commission Proposes Adoption of Digital the second bar. (Source:
graph 32 (June 1982), 24. Television Broadcast Standard,” MM Docket GAO Reports, “Many
3. CBS/Broadcast Group, “CBS Announces No. 87-268, May 9, 1996. Broadcasters Will Not
a Two Channel Compatible Broadcast System 13. Richard Ducey, “An Overview of the Meet May 2002
for High-Definition Television,” press release, American Digital Television Service Program,” Digital Television
September 22, 1983. Paper, downloaded from Deadline,” GAO-02-
4. Elizabeth Corcoran, Scientific American 266 14. Reed Hundt, Chairman, FCC, “A New 466, April 23, 2002.)
(February 1992), 96. Paradigm for Digital Television,” September 30,
5. Even though there may not have been an 1996, downloaded from Note: TV
official agreement, elements of the international uses an interlaced format; computers use a pro-
production community did embrace the pro- gressive scanning process.
duction standard. 15. Frank Beacham, “Pressure Builds for
6. “EIA Sets Itself Apart on HDTV,” Broad- DTV Compromise,” TV Technology 14 (October
casting (January 16, 1989), 100. 25, 1996), 27.
7. Spice, also known as melange, was a rare 16. Ibid.
and valuable substance. 17. McConnell, “Broadcasters Arm for ATV
8. “FCC to Take Simulcast Route to Fight,” 7.
HDTV,” Broadcasting (March 26, 1990), 18. “DTV Standard: It’s Official,” Broadcast-
39. ing & Cable (December 30, 1996), 4.
9. Frank Beacham, “Sikes: A New Ballgame 19. Kristine Garcia, “Heeere’s HDTV,”
for HDTV,” TV Technology 10 (May 1992), 3. Digital Television 2 (May 1999), 1.
10. “HDTV: A Game of Take and Give,” 20. Paige Albiniak, “HDTV: Launched and
Broadcasting (April 20, 1992), 6. Counting,” Broadcasting & Cable (November 2,
11. Chris McConnell,“Broadcasters Arm for 1998), 6.

21. NAB, “11 New Stations on Air with Availability, Set-Top Converters,” downloaded
DTV,” Press Release, March 3, 2003, down- from National Association of
loaded from Broadcasters web site is a rich resource for
1303.htm. broadcasting topics, including DTV.
22. Phillip Swan, “Give Us Some Credit,” 33. Edward O. Fritts, “Broadcasters’ Break-
Electronic Media Online, downloaded from through Year,” Speech to the NAB ATSC
wysiwyg://4/ Annual Membership Meeting, March 11,
technology/121602give.html. 2003, downloaded from
23. Jennifer Davies,“The HDTV Revolution Newsroom/PressRel/speeches/031103.htm.
Will Be Televised; But Will Anyone Be Watch- 34. Broadcast Engineering, “Broadcasters
ing,?” The San Diego Union-Tribune (December 2, and FCC Mismanaged DTV Transition, Con-
2001, Sunday), downloaded from Nexis. sumer Federation Says,” downloaded from
24. The year 2006 as of this writing.
25. Please see the following for details: FCC. index.asp?srid=11266&pageid=6952&siteid=1
“FCC Initiates Second Review of DTV Tran- 5&magazineid=158&srtype=1#dtv.
sition,” Press Release, January 27, 2003, down- 35. Carolyn Horwitz, “DAB: Coming to a
loaded from Car Near You?,” Satellite Communications
public/attachmatch/DOC-230562A1.doc. (October 1994), 38.
26. FCC. “FCC Introduces Phase-in Plan 36. NAB.“Digital Audio Broadcasting,”Broad-
for DTV Tuners,” Press Release, August 8, cast Regulation 1992;A mid-year Report, 140.

2002, downloaded from 37. Ibid., 142. 38. Conversation with FCC, October 1992.
attachmatch/DOC-225221A1.pdf?date 39. “U.S. DAB on the Slow Track,” Radio
=020208. World 19 (December 27, 1995), 37.
27. GAO Reports, “Many Broadcasters Will 40. Alan Huber,“FCC Lays Groundwork for
Not Meet May 2002 Digital Television Dead- Satellite Radio,” Radio World 19 (February 8,
line,” GAO-02-466,April 23, 2002, downloaded 1995), 1.
from Nexis. 41. Downloaded from
28. Glen Dickson, “Getting Together Over audio/digital/index.html.
Data,” Broadcasting & Cable (March 27, 2000), 9. 42. FCC, Digital Audio Broadcasting
29. Harry A. Jessell, “Broadcasting’s Killer Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial
App?,” Broadcasting & Cable (March 27, 2000), 10. Radio Broadcast Service, MM Docket No.
30. “Is HDTV Finally Coming to Europe,” 99–325, October 10, 2002, downloaded from
TV Technology (January 30, 2003), downloaded
from match/FCC-02-286A1.doc.
php?id=837. 43. This may include SurroundSound.
31. Mario Orazio,“HDTV: Hot Dang-Total Please see the iBiquity web site for additional
Video,” TV Technology 13 (December 1995), 25. information;
32. Marcia L. De Sonne, “HDTVs-It’s 44. XM Satellite Radio Inc., “General
Where the Buyers are Consumer Interest, Set FAQ,” downloaded from
Digital Television and Digital Audio Broadcasting 189


ATSC. Like the FCC, this is a rich resource for deCarmo, Linden. “Checkered Flag.” eMedia 16
the digital television standard. ( (May 2003), 34–41. Comprehensive review
Example documents have included: “A/53 of the broadcast flag (copy protection) sce-
ATSC Digital Television Standard” (Septem- nario; includes web site resources.
ber 16, 1995) and “A/54 Guide to the Use Ducey, Richard V. “An Overview of the Amer-
of the ATSC Digital Television Standard” ican Digital Television Service Program.” A
(October 4, 1995). paper written by an NAB Senior Vice Pres-
Beacham, Frank. “Digital TV Airs ‘Grand’ Soap ident. An excellent look at the development
Opera.” TV Technology 14 (August 23, 1996), of the U.S. DTV system.
1, 8; Frank Beacham. “Pressure Builds for FCC. The FCC is a rich resource for HDTV,
DTV Compromise.” TV Technology 14 DAB, SDAR, and related documents
(October 25, 1996), 1, 27; Chris McConnell. ( Example documents have in-
“Broadcasters Arm for ATV Fight.” Broad- cluded: Commission Begins Final Step in the
casting & Cable (October 21, 1996), 6–7, 12. Implementation of Digital Television (DTV).
The digital television standard controversy. MM Docket No. 87-268, July 15, 1996; and
Boyer, William H. “Don’t Touch that Dial.” IBOC Digital Radio Broadcasting for AM
Satellite Communication 22 (May 1998), and FR Radio Broadcast Stations.
44–47; Peter J. Brown. “Satellite Radio.” Via Freeman, John. “A Cross-Referenced, Compre-

Satellite 16 (November 2001), 18–24; Melanie hensive Bibliography on High-Definition and
Reynolds. “DAB Firms Tune in for Product Advanced Television Systems, 1971–1988.”
Launch.” Electronic Weekly, downloaded from SMPTE Journal 101 (November 1990), 909–
Nexis; Lucent Digital Radio. “Submission to 933; David Strachan. “HDTV in North
the National Radio Systems Committee.” America.” SMPTE Journal 105 (March 1996),
January 24, 2000, downloaded from 125–129; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology; Lynn Meadows.“AT&T Pulls Assessment. The Big Picture: HDTV and
IBOC from DAB Tests.” Radio World 20 High Resolution Systems. OTA-BP-CIT-64
(October 16, 1996), 1, 11; XM Radio. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing DAB and SDAR devel- Office, June 1990. Comprehensive coverage
opments and the XM Radio web site has a of HDTV developments, particularly the
range of documents outlining its satellite- earlier years.
based service. Hallinger, Mark. “Globally, DTV Struggles to
Brown, Peter E. “PC OEMs Look to DTV as Break Through.” TV Technology 21 (March
Panacea for Home Market Ills.” Digital Televi- 19, 2003), 12, 16; “TV Transitions from a
sion 2 (November 1999), 16; John Rice. Global Perspective.” Broadcasting (October 15,
“What Flavor Is Your DTV?” TV Technology 1990), 50–52. DTV and a global perspective,
16 (November 30, 1998), 28. PCs and DTV. earlier to more recent years.
Davies, Jennifer.“Unclear Signal; HDTV’s Sizzle TV Technology. “Mario Orazio” writes an
May Fizzle as Cost and Marketability Inhibit ongoing column that covers a wide range of
Growth.” The San Diego Union-Tribune topics, including those related to HDTV.
(December 2, 2001), downloaded from Whitaker, Jerry. DTV The Revolution in Digital
Nexis; Jimmy Schaeffler. “HDTV’s Coming Video. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999. A
But Obstacles Remain.” Satellite News comprehensive look at DTV history and
(October 21, 2002), downloaded; Tanjay developments; includes an overview of
Talwani. “FCC: This Time We Mean It.” TV imaging system principles.
Technology 20 (July 10, 2002), 1, 8; Sanjay Zou,William Y.“SDTV and Multiple Service in
Talwani. “FCC Mandates DTV Tuners.” TV a DTV Environment.” SMPTE Journal 107
Technology 20 (September 4, 2002), 1, 12. (October 1998), 870–878. Review of SDTV
DTV developments. elements.


Advanced Television (ATV) Systems: A generic and improved television standard. Superior
name for higher definition television pictures will appear on a wider and larger
configurations. screen; both digital and analog configurations
Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB): A CD-quality have been developed.
audio signal that could be delivered to sub- Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS): A
scribers by satellite or terrestrial means. radio programming service delivered by
Digital Television (DTV): A generic designation satellite to, for instance, cars equipped with a
for digital television systems. special receiver and small antenna.
High Definition Television (HDTV): The field
concerned with the development of a new
14 The Production
Colorization and
Other Technology
We have explored production technologies base. Physicians processed X rays to reveal
that have influenced industry, and through a previously invisible details. Astronomers ad-
rippling effect, society. This chapter exam- opted a technique called pseudocoloring.
ines representative examples of such tech- In a black-and-white image, different
nologies as well as important applications regions of a galaxy or other celestial object
and implications. may be reproduced as almost identical gray
shades.This may make it impossible to visu-
ally discern its physical characteristics.1 This
COLORIZATION is where computer processing steps in. We
assign colors to the different gray shades,
Colorization is the process in which a black- which are then reproduced in the appropri-
and-white movie is manipulated by com- ate colors. This image will highlight the
puter to produce a colorized version of the object’s physical features because they are
original film. Black-and-white television now represented by different and contrast-
programs have also been affected. ing colors.2
In brief, when NASA started the explo- Image processing has also influenced the
ration of the Solar System, thousands of communications industry. The product may
photographs of other worlds were trans- change, but the intent is essentially the same:
mitted to Earth.They were fed to computers to manipulate a picture for a specific pur-
and subsequently underwent image process- pose. In this case, for a desktop publishing
ing. This operation had two primary goals: project or for colorization.
image correction and enhancement. If a
picture was marred by noise and other
defects, they could be eliminated or mini-
mized. Enhancement techniques helped an Yankee Doodle Dandy
individual to better interpret the photo- Starting in the 1980s, the colorization tech-
graphic data. In one setup, an image’s nique was applied to black-and-white films.
contrast could be altered to highlight a char- Movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life and
acteristic of a region of Mars. Yankee Doodle Dandy were colorized to the
Cost-effective and powerful computers cheers and jeers of supporters and oppo-
extended image processing to a broader user nents alike.3


But a more salient point is the ethical

issue of altering another person’s work.
According to many artists, including Frank
Capra who directed It’s a Wonderful Life, no
one has the right to change a film or another
piece of art. The artist’s original vision and
the work’s integrity are destroyed.
Finally, ask yourself this question—even if
colorization is flawless, would this make the
process acceptable?


Computers have also been used to mani-

pulate advertising and news images. The
Figure 14.1 problem with the second scenario is the
The Shoemaker- Colorization is a multifaceted task. A public’s perception. People generally believe

Levy/Jupiter collision. videotape copy of the film is created, and in a news photograph portrays reality, an event
Computers play a
one step, colors are assigned to appropriate as it occurred. By altering the image, the
central and critical role
in producing images of
objects in a frame. If possible, the colors cor- public’s trust could be broken.
celestial events that we respond to those used when the movie was But image editing and manipulations are
can subsequently view shot. A computer eventually processes the not new phenomena.The photographic pro-
and study. (Courtesy of film, frame by frame, and a colorized version cess itself, in which you select a specific lens
NSSDC/HST Science of the original is generated.4 A former gray and compose a shot, is a form of editing.
Team.) hat and jacket may emerge as yellow and Image manipulations are also established
blue. darkroom fare.
Colorization proponents indicated the Nevertheless, the new electronic systems
process would introduce older, and possibly raise these processes by a notch. It is now
classic movies, to new generations of easier to manipulate an image, and the pre-
viewers. If you grew up with color films and requisite tools, such as a PC and graphics
television, would you be willing to watch packages, are readily available.
black-and-white products? Colorization In one example, you can take a picture
also did not harm the original film, and of a site and electronically add a proposed
you could still watch the black-and-white building. In another example, you can take
version. a picture of a swamp and electronically alter
Opponents countered that colorization it to make it look like prime real estate.
should be halted for aesthetic and ethical Although each manipulation produces a
reasons. Although a company may have the new image, there are differences in the
legal right to colorize a film, a distorted context of our discussion. If the first picture
version of the original may be created. is created as part of an environmental impact
Colors may bleed, the lighting and makeup, study, and is clearly labeled as a simulation,
which were originally designed for a black not many people would have a problem
and white medium, are altered, and physical with it. In fact, it can actually provide a
details may be lost.5 service. But if you do not label the swamp
The Production Environment: Colorization and Other Technology Issues 193

for what it is, that’s when problems start Figure 14.2

cropping up. Computer manipulation,
Newspapers and magazines with ready in this instance, is
access to even more sophisticated systems performing a valuable
have been guilty, at times, of essentially service: revealing the
potential impact of a
turning swamps into valuable land. In two
proposed physical plant
examples, National Geographic and the St. alteration. Note the top
Louis Post-Dispatch, respectively, moved a photo of the existing
pyramid in one scene and eliminated and condition and the bottom
replaced a can of soda in another.6 On face photo that depicts the
value, a can of soda may not be that impor- proposed changes.
tant.Yet in the context of this photograph, (Courtesy of David C.
it had a specific meaning in regard to the Young/Young
individual pictured in the photograph. Associates-Landscape
It also raised other questions. What else Architecture.)
can you remove, add, or replace in other
images? Will a government manipulate a
picture to portray an event not as it oc-
curred, but as it wants it to appear? What

about abuses with legal evidence and the
potential manipulation of video imagery?
Do digital still cameras exacerbate the
situation since their output is already in a Animations and computer graphics have
more malleable form than a traditional also gained a wider acceptance in the court-
film camera?7 In essence, because a digital room. In one example, a court indicated that
manipulation could be very hard to detect, “animations were no different than drawings
if at all, an individual’s ethical standards may that were used by experts to illustrate their
be one of the only safeguards you have and testimony.As long as the animation is a ‘rea-
can trust.8 sonable representation,’ there is no barrier
to using such techniques in court.”10 In
essence, computer graphics and other com-
MULTIMEDIA LEGAL AND puter-generated materials are being viewed
BROADER IMPLICATIONS much like traditional illustrative tools used
by expert witnesses.
Legal Implications Computer graphics and animations have
Multimedia and desktop video productions also been used to recreate real-life events. In
have legal implications. In a patent infringe- one case, an animation of a roller coaster
ment lawsuit over hip prostheses, for depicted the G-forces an individual would
instance, a firm created an interactive pre- be subjected to during a ride.The data were
sentation that depicted how the devices gathered by instruments and incorporated
worked. The goal was to show the devices in the animation to show how these forces
in action and to make the information caused a rider to suffer a stroke through a
accessible and interesting to the jury.9 The ruptured blood vessel.11 Other cases have
actual production process included using ranged from pinpointing the causes of fires
scanned images, image editing software, and to depicting how automobile and aircraft
animations. accidents could have taken place.

between the different SDI elements were

also depicted in a dynamic fashion. With
only a text-based description, this informa-
tion would not have been conveyed as effec-
tively. The subject may have been too
difficult to comprehend.
But despite this positive attribute, there is
an inherent danger in converting a large
information base, especially about contro-
versial and intricate subjects, into a series
of images. The real-world situation may be
portrayed in too simplistic a manner. Or the
graphics and animations could be manipu-
lated to promote a particular point of view—
possibly a distorted view of the facts.
Because we tend to believe what we see,
a production that effectively uses mixed
Figure 14.3 Exploring the World media could be misleading. We also gener-
Computer graphics, As you know, the world is an intricate and ally do not have an opportunity to refute the

animations, and the law: rapidly changing place.Volumes of informa- information on a point-by-point basis, as is
from a case involving tion are generated with each passing hour, the case in a courtroom situation. In court,
an aircraft accident. and we must cope with this continuous expert witnesses could be called, and the
(Courtesy of FTI
information stream.To make matters worse, information could possibly be challenged
Corporation, Annapolis,
much of this information is difficult to and rebutted.
comprehend. Finally, the potential to present an altered
Graphics, animations, and audio-video view of the real world becomes an even
clips can help solve this problem by distill- more pressing concern in light of a virtual
ing a mountain of information into a more reality system’s capabilities, as covered in the
accessible form. For a report that examines next section. A computer-generated world,
the growth rate of urban centers, a series of designed and controlled by a human opera-
graphics could potentially replace pages of tor, could serve as an analog for real-world
census material. situations. Closer to home, news pictures
Multimedia and desktop video produc- and other images can be manipulated and
tions can also be used to explore complex altered with a computer.
events. In one example, a series of graphics
and animations has depicted the Strategic
Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as “Star
Wars.” This satellite-based plan, proposed VIRTUAL REALITY
during the Reagan administration, was the
core of a multilayered defense system. The On the Threshold of a Dream
missiles, satellites, and other components, Virtual reality (VR) is a footnote to many
which all played a role in the SDI plan, were of the book’s topics. The implications also
brought to life via the computer. cut across technological, social, and ethical
Animations made it possible for viewers lines.
to at least grasp how the system would In brief, VR can be defined as a display and
theoretically function. The interactions control technology that can surround a person in
The Production Environment: Colorization and Other Technology Issues 195

an interactive computer-generated or computer-

mediated virtual environment. Using head-
tracked head-mounted displays, gesture trackers,
and 3-D sound, it creates an artificial world of
visual . . . and auditory experience.With a digital
model of an environment, it creates an artificial
place to be explored with virtual objects to be

As just described by Michael W. Mc-

Greevy, a virtual reality pioneer, you can use
a system to enter into and interact with a
computer-generated environment.The pass-
age to this realm can be through different
VR platforms.
In the configuration we’re probably the
most familiar with, you wear special
“goggles” to view the computer-generated
images and a glove to navigate through and
to interact with this environment.13 Realis-

tic sound may also be a key element, and
head motions are tracked so the scene shifts
as you move your head.
Outfitted with this equipment, the real
world can be blocked out as you are fed
Figure 14.4
images of a room. You can move through
A virtual reality outfit.
this space with a gesture of your hand.You 1. Telepresence. Telepresence is the
(Courtesy of NASA,
can also grab and move objects and even “ability to interact in a distant environment Ames Research Center.)
turn wall switches on and off. The objects through robotic technology.”14 In one ex-
can act as they would in real life. But in ample, NASA has experimented with re-
this reality, the action is taking place in a mote robotic systems, controlled by distant
virtual world, the world generated by the operators, for space-based construction and
computer. repairs. Instead of simply pressing buttons
to carry out commands, the robotic device
becomes a natural extension of its human