Merv Norton, class of ’50, describes harnessing the first television signal in Auburn…
One day I was in an engineering lab after class. They had a small 7′ television set. It was connected to a long wire antenna on the building roof. I began to play with the television. At that time both Birmingham and Atlanta had three television stations and each were approximately 100 miles from Auburn. I was able to receive a faint signal, not strong enough to see a clear picture but strong enough to know that the signal could be received in Auburn.
I began to believe that if a proper antenna was used I should be able to receive the TV programs. Over the next several months I saved my money I purchased a 10″ TV in Birmingham. Over a period of several weeks I obtained aluminum close line wire and some 1″ x 2″ wood to build antennas. I constructed two cubical quad antennas, one for the low band (channels 2-6) a one for the high band (channels 7-13). A cubical quad has a rectangular configuration and it is set on edge. I mounted these antennas on a mast and pointed it toward Atlanta. Much to my delight I did receive a signal. Sometimes the signal was strong enough to view the program. This was the first real TV reception in Auburn.
I continued to receive TV on occasions and when the signal was strong I would place the TV in the boardinghouse window and students passing by could see it.
During my senior year I was asked by a Fraternity to build them a set of antennas for a TV that they intended to buy. I then built three yaga antennas for them. These yagi antennas had more gain the my antennas and the Fraternity received a fairly good signal.
During this senior year I wrote a paper entitled, “Will Television Come to Auburn?” In this paper I proposed that a set of high gain antennas be placed on the Auburn water tank which was the tallest structure in town. At this height there should a be able to receive a good television picture. The signal would then be amplified and retransmitted to the local Auburn area. I received a “A” on this paper. This concept was actually implemented in rural areas several years later.