In our 600,000 hour lifetime, future adults will have typically spent 50,000 hours watching TV. Some of these 50,000 hours will of course be of considerable quality--most will be "more of the same."
In order to accomplish this feat, we have presently supplied ourselves with 100 million TV sets (and have already junked an equal number). Today, somewhat more than half of these are color; approximately 65% of all US households will have color TV this year (Japan will reach 75%). Thus, the ubiquitous color CRT (cathode ray tube) has become one of America's most common household instruments.
These simple industrial facts may portend an elaborate arrangement of individualized home information services tied into the conventional TV receiver as the home CRT display screen, and presently a number of prototype community information utilities are in various stages of development. Some use regular telephone circuit to dial up a computer sharing resource. Others are shaped similarly around the greater communications capacity of a local CATV system. 13% of US households are now on CATV (with an average penetration of about 54% of homes passed) and by 1984 perhaps as many as 40% of all households will be wired.
Whatever the particular variations in format, it appears that: * the technology of cable communications is inevitable, * the impact is already beginning to be apparent, * we must shape it for humanistic concerns.
The following then is a brief description of the proposed audio multiplexed system which provides 96 access tracks to cultural, educational and general interest information that could be made available to eligible users at their residences or at services centers such as libraries and hospitals over a regular CATV system that accommodates this proposed sort of quasi-institutional use channel. The New York Public Library has assisted in presenting a limited demonstration of these services at their Inwood Branch. They are exploring the feasibility of another temporary installation that would provide a larger area for the ad hoc committee to work with potential users. We anticipate that various organizations will help in assessing the needs of handicapped persons so that the system itself can be responsive and easily manageable by persons with differing disabilities.
The objectives of these proposed demonstrations are presumably to determine whether telecommunications may offer some promise of economically delivering compensatory services to the handicapped, and further, whether telecommunications are an effective means of outreach to the socially isolated.
It may be important to consider whether the proportion of eligible clients that would be served within a particular community is modest or large in relation to the total population (usually somewhat more than 5%). We note for comparison that the utilization of any one of the lesser watched Cable TV channels out of 20 would usually capture an audience ratio of less than 1%, being those people actually watching a typical limited interest program. More importantly, because of its dual qualities of outreach and significant capacity, this communications capability enables compensatory services to be offered to those of us who are unfortunately deprived of access to cultural and community resources by virtue of lacking normal mobility or lacking normal sensory powers. Our Federal and State guidelines have established the principle that parity of access to public resources is a basic right of all,