Rabbit Ears Still Work

Timehop scrubs through your social network accounts and offers a summary of what you did on this day one year ago, two years ago, three years ago, etc. It’s really not as creepy as you might think, since you posted your thoughts, activities, or whereabouts to Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare in the first place. It often jogs my memory about trips I took or friends I hadn’t seen in a while. At the end of your feed, it includes a story of interest (though not always an interesting story) from the pages of USA Today of what happened on this day some years ago.

Evidently, four years ago today, televisions broadcasters went all digital:

YES, Rabbit Ears Still

Analog TV signals are shut down across the nation, as stations begin to broadcast only in digital. No more rabbit ears!

Although 2009 marked the end of analog television signals that had been transmitted since the 1940s, it did not spell the end of the rabbit ears. The only antennas that would be retired would be really old ones that were in circulation before 1960, when the VHF band was the only one around. The VHF band was for television stations broadcasting on channels 2–13, and the broadcasters have migrated off that band.

Although the television signals we use today are for the most part digital, most television stations today transmit on the UHF band. That band was designated for television channels 14–69 and was established in 1952. Television receivers and antennas have fully supported that band since 1960. Television antennas, both the rooftop and the rabbit ear kind, can still receive the new digital signal and pass it to your television set. The only problem is that if your television set is older than 2000, then it won’t know how to decode the digital signal.

Cable and satellite companies took this as an opportunity to sign up new customers thinking that those that received over-the-air television would be doomed. Instead, they were just duped.