Interlacing – the hidden story of 1920s video compression technology

By Paul Marshall

Pick-up any worthwhile book on the history of television and turn to the index to look up the word ‘interlace’ or ‘interlacing’. Look at the referenced pages and somewhere you will find an established ‘fact’ that Randall Ballard of RCA invented the ‘clever’ technique of interlacing in 1932. It doesn’t matter whether the book is American, British, German, French or Russian – Randall Ballard invented interlacing. Is this ‘fact’ completely sound though? As with so many issues in the history of the technological development of television the rights to precedence have become distorted over the years by manipulations of corporate image, tweaking for reasons of national pride or just plain acceptance of the status quo.

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