Death of Analogue
- 30 Dec, 2020
THE DEATH OF ANALOGUE
The ‘Death of Analogue’ is not a new phrase nor a new idea – it has been predicted and foreseen for at least a decade by virtually all mainstream technology commentators.
That analogue will go the way of reel audio, cassette tapes, VHS and compact discs is not really a prediction – it is a foregone conclusion. What remains to be seen is how long the death throes last before the aforementioned, long-predicted death actually occurs.
The inevitable and inexorable march of technology towards ‘simplification’ – usually a byword for dumbing down things – means that the move to digital was a necessary step in the evolution towards a truly ‘easy’ system of storing and representing data.
For the security and surveillance industry, the demise of analogue will take with it the true pioneer of the genre, a system upon which all others today are based.
The Birth of Analogue
The use of analogue as a surveillance tool has its origins, like so many of Man’s greatest inventions, in War.
History tells us that the first time visual images were transferred along analogue cable to a monitor screen was in Germany, during the Second World War. German scientists used cameras to monitor their V-2 rocket launch pads in 1942 and CCTV was born. However, these were simple live feeds without the ability to record the events.
In the 1950s, the idea of using CCTV for security was adopted on a large scale by the U.S. government. Soon, cities and banks were using this technology to help fight crime.
The Aesthetics Argument
There are few things that make me reminisce about the good old days of analogue like an electronic device with a slew of buttons and knobs protruding importantly out of the unit. Today, knobs, levers and dials have been replaced by sleek buttons that flow smoothly with the lines of the device and backlit digital readouts that would illuminate a room in darkness.
There is no doubt that the digital devices of today manage to compact physical objects into much smaller versions. Few would offer the argument that the newer iterations are less pleasing to the eye, save in the case of someone who has a penchant for outdated designs and their ‘retro’ look.
In much the same way, analogue video of yesteryear cannot compare to the quality and beauty of digital video today.
Analogue CCTV resolution was measured in lines. There were actually two pairs of line sets, 480 each to give a total of 960 lines on a screen. These two sets of image lines were sent to the screen alternatingly but very rapidly. This fooled the eye into seeing a 960-line ‘interlaced’ image while carrying just half that data in its analogue cables at any one point.
These images cannot compare with the HD images that are available with the most basic HDCVI cables using HD cameras, which give a 720p resolution at the very minimum. Note, of course, that the HDCVI system would use RG59 cabling.
Compare those images with IP camera technology which already has the ability to produce 13 Megapixel images and you realise why analogue could never compare in clarity and aesthetics with the digital options we already have at hand.
Analogue blazed the trail for all these newer technologies but it has been left far behind as a remnant of an era gone by – for anyone installing a surveillance system, the distortion and lack of true colours that they would obtain from analogue video don’t have a chance against the crisp and clear, true-to-life images from digital technology.
It Always Comes Down to Money
When the first video recorders were introduced in the 1950s, they cost US$50,000. A cassette alone cost US$300. Analogue technology was very far beyond the reach of the average person on the street.
When VHS took off in the 1970s, it was because the technology had become widespread enough and cheap enough that most homes could afford one. Ironically, today, as digital has almost completed its domination of the segment, the cost to produce analogue-compatible equipment has skyrocketed, leading almost all companies to drop it.
That’s right, not only is digital technology able to produce crystal clear images that analogue cannot hold a candle to, it is becoming so cheap that the most basic mobile devices can have a fairly sophisticated digital video recorder incorporated into them.
Stores and other businesses that used an analogue CCTV to record video had to rely on a book-sized VHS tape that could a few hours of video at most. As CDs and DVDs, and then CD-RWs and DVD-RWs came into play, the cost-saving and space-saving benefits eroded the loyalty and stick-with-what-you-know attitudes of all but the most stubborn users.
Consequently, manufacturers have discovered that the bulky, cumbersome analogue technology that served them so well for many decades has finally outlived its economical use. Even if they were to produce analogue equipment for the collectors and enthusiasts, the costs have already become so high that they would be prohibitive to all but the wealthiest.
Life has come full circle – we will soon have US$50,000 VCRs and US$300 VHS tapes again
The Eulogy to Analogue
Analogue video defined generations of people when it brought the world to our TV screens. With it, we shared the thrill of the moon landings, the shocking assassinations of Presidents and the mundanity of channel test screens.
As it fades away into history today, analogue is succeeded by digital technology that has already proven itself to be completely of a different league.
GSA Systems has been a part of the security and surveillance sector since the advent of analogue as a monitoring tool for homes and businesses. We have moved with the times, incorporating the latest products into our range of stock and offering our clients the best and newest technology for their needs.
We still have clients who purchased analogue systems from us many years ago and we are committed to providing them the same level of service and support that we always have.
Our newer clients who have only discovered us recently can rest assured that we will cover all our latest products with the same level of professionalism and dedication to customer satisfaction that has made us an industry leader.