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Bric-a-brac: TV Test Cards
A strange mixture of technical requirements and artistic licence, test cards were needed as the early TV stations did not broadcast every hour of the day.  If an engineer was to set a TV set up at someone's home then any picture would do - and so the test card was born.  Most artefacts were designed to stress some part of the reception capability of early TVs; whether that be contrast, definition, distortion or signal strength.

TV Test card BBC1 1956

BBC (1) 1956
Grey scale graduation with centre circle for distortion test, multiple black and white maximums and centre tight vertical grid for frequency response test.  Large outer circle is of little use as it is difficult to gauge. 

TV Test Card ITA 1956

ITA 1956
Grey scale graduation with centre black and white circle for distortion test, centre square with vertical grid
for frequency response test.  Useful extra two vertical outer lines for skew distortion test.

Test card 1955

Lichfield and Croydon "G9AED" 1955
This test card was to be used two months before (November 1955) the Midland ITA station was transmitting programmes. However, due to delays caused by bad weather, it didn't start transmitting until late December.  It ended transmission on January 31st 1956.  This allowed traders to obtain business from selling new televisions, band III converters and installing aerials.  It was transmitted Monday to Friday, 9.30 am - 12.30 pm, 2pm - 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm - 8.30 pm.  Saturday, 10 am - 1 pm, with no signal on Sunday or Bank holidays.  This test card was previously used prior to the opening of Croydon ITA transmitter.