• From black-and-white TV to the internet: How technology has changed since 1948

    By: Fred Blankenship

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - This week marks 70 years since WSB-TV hit the air. The consistent leader in ratings from the start, WSB also leads the way when it comes to technology.

    On Sept. 29, 1948, at 8 p.m., WSB-TV hit the air for the first time.

    Since that day, the technology of television has changed drastically.

    “We transmitted out of a tower in our own backyard,” maintenance technician Gary Pearcey said about those days.

    [RELATED: WSB-TV marks 70 years of coverage]

    Three years later, in 1951, WSB began transmitting from what was then the tallest tower in the world. Even back then, live shots were possible.

    “It took a long time to set up the shot, but you did have microwave back in those days,” Pearcey said.

    In 1959, the first radar weather forecast aired. By the late '70s, it was in color

    “You could tell the difference between light rain and heavy rain by the color, so that was quite a breakthrough to have colorized radar,” Pearcey said.

    Color TV debuted nationally in the mid-1950s. To produce something locally wasn't so simple. In 1965, WSB made the leap.

    [RELATED: A look back: WSB-TV and the civil rights movement]

    “Oddly enough, they wanted to debut it on 'The Popeye Club,'” Pearcey said.

    That same year the “Color Cruiser” began lugging the 200-pound cameras used to broadcast Braves games live for years.

    For almost three decades, stories were shot on film -- a slow and expensive process.

    “You go out and you shoot the film and you somehow get it back to the station, 'cause the film had to be processed. And you had to wait for the film to come out, and you know, you were always checking on your deadline,” former WSB-TV anchor John Pruitt said.

    [RELATED: John Pruitt's last show]

    In 1975, videotape arrived on the scene.

    “The speed was dramatic,” chief photographer Tony Light said.

    It took two machines to edit, one to record and one for playback.

    “They were big and bulky,” Light said. “Stuff we use today, it's instant. As soon as you shoot it, you can see it, you can edit it.”

    In 1998, WSB-TV was one of the first in the country to go digital. Tape was replaced with file storing cards.

    “All you need is your laptop and an SD card,” Light said.

    WSB had the first live truck in the market. From there, satellite. And now, two dozen livestream devices make going live possible from places never before imagined. 

    We debuted a helicopter for the first time in 1978. Now, NewsChopper 2 is joined by a fleet of 15 drones.

    Google and online scanners allow the assignment desk to deliver information to crews in the field quickly and accurately -- a little different from wires printing off each day.

    “From the time we can get it to them, which is just seconds, they've got it and they've got it on air,” senior assignment editor Lacey Lecroy said.

    [PHOTOS: Behind-the-scenes at WSB-TV]

    Among all these changes, we’re now on all sorts of digital and social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

    Our WSB-TV News App is now one of the quickest ways for viewers to get information on the go.

    Although a lot has changed, one thing has stayed the same – WSB continues to be on the cutting edge of new technology to make sure we are always bringing you, the viewer, the best product possible.

    You can learn more about WSB over the years every night this week and during a primetime special “70 Years of WSB-TV” Sunday at 7 p.m.

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