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Red Lion Native Developed 3-D Video System

3-D seems to be all the rage with movies again; maybe it will become common on TV before long. Did you know that York County native Glen Akins (1916-2003) and two fellow engineers, Alex Quiroga and Cameron Pierce, at ABC in Los Angeles are credited with developing three dimensional television?
Below are some excerpts from the July 1, 1953 York Dispatch article:


…Akins is a son of Mr. and Mrs. James Akins, 37 West High street, and during World War II, he was a news commentator in China for the Office of War Information. He now lives in North Hollywood, Cal., where he has been employed by ABC for the past six years.
The new invention was tried out in a public demonstration in Los Angeles, Cal., on April 30, and the test was very impressive. It said the new system showed a picture that gave a strong likelihood that a girl was going to walk right off a 3-D television screen and tramp on the spectators.
…In transmitting the 3-D image, the system employs two pictures. One of the pictures represents the left eye, and the other the right eye. Pictures are transmitted in fleeting sequences of left to right, each of an instant of one sixtieth of a second.
Only one picture appears at a time on the reviewing screen but the ability of the human eye to retain an image for a fraction of a second fuses it in the brain with the second picture. Both pictures appear to be seen together all the time. Polarized light glasses, specially designed TV receivers and a modified TV camera were used in the test showing. Conversion of a home TV set for 3-D use would cost about $150, ABC told the California press, adding that the system is highly experimental and won’t be available for home use for some time.

Akins also developed other improvements in broadcasting. An internet search turned up his 2003 obituary in the Audio Engineering Society journal crediting him developing automated video and audio switching for the control room.
The internet search also revealed several national news articles using Glen and Alice Akins as an example of what retirees could do with funds generated from reverse mortgage. They took out a reverse mortgage on their Hollywood Hills home and used the money to tour the world.
We still may be waiting for 3-D TV, but you can’t blame Glen Akins. I think it is those pesky glasses. Experiments in no-glasses 3-D TV have been in the news recently, so maybe one of these days… .