Iowa Alumni Magazine: Going Digital

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Published in the April Issue of Iowa Alumni Magazine

As we head into the brave new world of digital TV, spare a thought for the UI pioneers who channeled their energies into the nation's first educational television station more than 75 years ago.

Professor E. B. Kurtz (standing in photo) and J. L. Potter (kneeling) from the Electrical Engineering Department were among the UI staff and faculty from various disciplines who collaborated on station W9XK.  One of about 30 experimental TV stations licensed by the federal government in the 1930s, W9XK went on air in 1933.

For six years, viewers on campus and as far away as Pennsylvania and Oklahoma used special receivers to tune into twice-weekly programs of "sight and sound" lectures, musical performances, and drama.

The Iowa Digital Library's new online collection ( celebrates this period in broadcasting history and gives new meaning to the phrase "must-see TV."