Weather Star I
This article is incomplete.
|Weather Star I|
|Manufacturer:||Wegener / Texscan MSI Compuvid|
|Status:||Superseded – Hardware changes transitioned Weather Star I units into the Weather Star II in 1984.|
|Succeeded By:||Weather Star II|
The Weather Star I, referred to at the time simply as the Weather Star, was the first model of the Weather Star computer line manufactured for The Weather Channel. It was first introduced around the same time as the channel's debut on May 2, 1982, and was primarily produced by Texscan MSI Compuvid. The Weather Star I was a relatively rudimentary system, although advanced for the time, that generated local weather displays using text-based products and blocks of solid colors.
The Weather Star I was specifically designed to address the desire by the network's developers to display local weather information for specific locales served by cable companies throughout the United States. As the initial model in the Weather Star line of computers developed for this purpose, it was subject to various technical difficulties that ultimately caused it to be superseded by a modified version of the original hardware, then rebranded as the Weather Star II, in 1984.
The hardware of the Weather Star I was mostly identical to that of the later Weather Star II and Weather Star III, which were essentially the same basic hardware in all but name, minus upgrades made over the years. The original physical Weather Star unit had a 2U (rack unit)-tall chassis in which boards were inserted from the front in a stacked manner, with some space between each board. The power apparatus of the unit was placed on the left-hand side of the chassis. The unit featured a plastic front panel with a translucent blue-colored center piece that was detachable to reveal its interior hardware.
The earliest movements to establish what would become The Weather Channel hinged on the concept of the distribution of local weather information to different locations throughout America. According to Frank Batten, the channel's founder, it was Gordon Herring, a cable marketing expert employed under TeleCable (a cable television service owned by Batten's Landmark Communications), who initiated this idea and who pushed it as a requirement for his affiliation with the network's early development. It was also Herring who initially envisioned that such a feat would require the development of new technology specifically for that purpose, using a portion of the network's satellite signal for data delivery. Indeed, he had recently been part of a Landmark task force designed to explore the potential uses of teletext technology for news and information display, which drove his thinking in the contemporary weather project. Herring's concept involved, as Batten described it, an adaptation of such technology "to build an addressable receiver capable of receiving and storing localized information from a satellite transponder." By the time the initial work on the technology had begun in mid-to-late 1981, this concept had become part of the name of the computer unit, in which Star was an acronym for Satellite Transponder Addressable Receiver.
On December 28, 1981, Compuvid invited members of the project team developing The Weather Channel to a demonstration of the prototype of the Weather Star I. The demonstration went poorly, with development team member Doyle Thompson noting that the video signal was unacceptable and would not fit Federal Communications Commission broadcast standards.
Technical difficulties and changes
Despite initial feedback during the development stage bringing the Weather Star I to at least minimum broadcast standards, some flaws with the technology—many severe—were still present and became apparent after the launch of The Weather Channel. Network staff received numerous complaints of severe issues with data reception and display, including scrambled text, visual distortions and individual characters taking up the entire display. The fix for this would come in the form of an upgraded wire coil within the "tank circuit" that held incoming teletext messages, which was initially implemented in newer Star units being produced, but when an engineer from the British company Signetics—which designed a teletext chip for the Star—visited Compuvid, he raised a concern with the quality level of the coil and suggested an even higher-quality version, which would be implemented in all existing Star units over the first year of operation.
Soon, another issue manifested among certain cable companies, which were affected by radiation leaking from its Star's sensors that affected the channel 2 VHF frequency, despite the unit then adhering to FCC standards for radiation emission. In the scramble to fix this issue, hardware changes were made to contain the radiation, including the addition of ferrite beads to all leads entering and exiting the physical Star unit. These changes were the hardware changes which transitioned the Weather Star I into the Weather Star II name sometime around 1984.
- Weather Star, main article for the computer line the Weather Star I began
- Weather Star II, successor by means of upgraded hardware
- Weather Star III, last successor in original hardware line
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. pp. 42–43. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 116. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 118. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
- Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.