The Museum of Hoaxes
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Paul Krassner's Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
Fake Fish Photos
'Solar Armor' freezes man in Nevada Desert, 1874
The worms inside your face
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Mule elected G.O.P. committeeman, 1938
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
Swedish Translator Needed
Does anyone reading this happen to speak Swedish? I'm looking for someone who could help me translate some material relating to SVT's famous "instant color TV" april fool's day hoax that took place in 1962. SVT has a page with a paragraph discussing the hoax. And the same page links to a video of the hoax itself. I'm hoping to be able to come up with an English transcript of the hoax. Anyone willing to help me out with this, I'd be happy to send them a free signed copy of my latest book. I'll ship it all the way to Sweden, if need be.
Categories: April Fools Day
Posted by The Curator on Sat Mar 01, 2008
Comments (16)
The paragraph says roughly,

Since 1962 Swedish people have thought that an informational film by Kjell Stensson about how you can easily get a color TV was an April Fools joke
Posted by Jukka  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  05:15 AM
It's harder to follow the video clip, because it's "Swedish swedish" and he talks so fast... But I can try, it'll take a while though.

Any real swedish people around who could help with that? smile
Posted by Jukka  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  05:24 AM
The text on svt.se appears to be a joke in itself - perhaps because the author felt it was appropriate in a page about April Jokes.

I could give it a try - or are you busy translating it now, Jukka?
Posted by Herbert, Tingesten  in  Stockholm  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  05:47 AM
So, here's the translation:

Announcer: We hope you have the implements you need for the color TV experiment handy: A nylon stocking, a pair of scissors and a roll of adhesive tape. Over to our technical expert, Kjell Stensson.

Kjell Stensson: As you probably know, there's a lot of interest in the problem of color television all over the world. Research is currently being carried out in America, the Soviet Union, Japan and other places. I found it remarkable when, about one month ago, a suggestion was unexpectedly presented to me how this problem could be solved, which had the advantage of extreme simplicity compared to the hi-tech solutions. Like all great leaps of progress, it was based on very elementary ideas, and didn't demand more knowledge about optics and physics than what's taught in basic school.

We all know that white light consists of a mixture of the whole spectrum, and white light can be split up by simply using a prism. We've seen this diagram in school: (image: "Color dispersion / red / violet / spectrum")

Put a prism in the way of a ray of white light, and the white light gets separated into all the colors of the spectrum, all the colors of the rainbow beginning with red, orange and so on, all the way down to violet. The term is color dispersion.

It's also possible to achieve color dispersion by other means, which I will show you in the next picture. (Image: "Double slit interference")

Two slits are made in a massive wall and light is shone through them. The holes then act as two separate light sources. Depending on the distance to the opposite wall, the different color components of the white light will reinforce or suppress each other, and this will cause an impression of color.

Now, this is two slits only, and the idea of this suggestion was to cover the TV screen with some kind of raster, a kind of grid composed of multiple slits. The man who suggested this, a resident of Bockstahus north of Landskrona, P
Posted by Herbert, Tingesten  in  Stockholm  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  07:03 AM
(cont'd)

I have done precisely that with the monitor here in the studio, I've covered it with a stocking. That's why I asked you to have a nylon stocking, a scissors and a roll of tape handy. It's essential that it's fine-meshed. Should you try something larger - I've made an experiment with this A-shirt, and clearly the holes are too large for the effect to appear.

However, if you put it up (and if you don't have time to do it during this programme, you can do it later), you will see this picture of me suddenly appear in color.

Like I said earlier, the viewing distance is of utmost importance. You should experiment with moving closer and further away from the set to get the correct color impression. In order to assist you, we have prepared a calibration card. (Image: "White / red / yellow / green / blue / black")

Now move your head very carefully (the necessary movements are very small) and when this spectrum appears, you have found the correct position. If you're too far away, the red color may disappear, if you're too close, the green color may go away. The result could be disastrous, for instance our female announcers, who are beautiful blondes, may appear red-haired, which may be somewhat disconcerting for them.

This is still in a very preliminary phase. I've been in contact with the radio industry, which needless to say is very enthusiastic about this. They will engineer a kind of frame with tightening screws that allows you to fine-tune the distance, and it will naturally be available in very pleasing designs.

If you now can see this color range; white, red, yellow, green, blue, black, perhaps not in the absolutely correct nuances but approximately, you will enjoy the following little film immensely. It's a video color recording of different flowers, which I find to be a breathtaking symphony in colors.

We would appreciate to hear your views. Please write to us and let us know how this experiment turned out.
Posted by Herbert, Tingesten  in  Stockholm  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  07:04 AM
Oh, and change the word "massive" in paragraph 6 to "opaque", that closer to Mt Stensson's intended meaning. The wall with the slits doesn't have to be several meters thick obviously. "Massiv" in Swedish doesn't have the exact same meaning as "massive" in English.

I could add that my father fell for this in 1962 - as reported by my more level-headed mother.
Posted by Herbert, Tingesten  in  Stockholm  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  08:08 AM
That's great! Thank you! I didn't expect to have it translated so fast.

Herbert and Jukka, I'll send you both a book, if you want. Just email me the address you want it sent to. (email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

Two questions: Herbert, what is an "A-Shirt"? I can see what he's referring to in the video, but I can't imagine what he means by an A-Shirt.

Also, who was Kjell Stensson? The Swedish wikipedia has a very brief article about him:
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kjell_Stensson

Was he a well-known radio or tv presenter? He wasn't really a "technical expert" was he?
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  10:54 AM
I used to work in the men's department at a clothing store. An "A-Shirt" is an Athletic Undershirt - commonly known in the suburbs of North America as a "wifebeater". Hope this helps!
Posted by fuzzfoot  in  Potland, OR  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  01:24 PM
Kjell Stensson was *the* technical expert of Swedish television the 60's - he was a kind of public tech guru who was called in to explain all technical matters and whose words were never questioned, hence the impact of this hoax. Also, keep in mind that there was only one national TV channel in 1962, which added a lot to the penetration.

Almost 50 years later, it's safe to say that this is still the first one any Swede thinks of when asked for an example of a media hoax.
Posted by Herbert, Tingesten  in  Stockholm  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  07:16 PM
According to Wikipedia it can be interpreted as he actually was both a technician and and a "radio celeb". The translation goes:

Kjell Stensson, born 18th of October 1917, dead 13th of June 1990, radio tecnician, "radio person" (or roughly "someone known from the radio"). Anticipated in several radio- and TV-shows, for example "Twenty questions". Many people remember his apperence in TV the first of April 1962, fooling viewers into pulling a stocking over the TV-screen in order to receive colour-TV.

(Some extra reseach also confirms that he really was a qualified engineer)
Posted by Hanna  in  Europe  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  07:21 PM
It's too bad it wasn't a less common language or someone (such as me?) could have come in and offered a "hoax" translation. That would have been brilliant if the Museum of Hoaxes had posted a hoax translation of a hoax broadcast. Alas, it was not to be...

Speaking of which, head on over to Gullible.Info (http://www.gullible.info/)...
Posted by Taed  on  Sat Mar 01, 2008  at  09:57 PM
Awwww, I wish I spoke Swedish so I could get an autographed book downer
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Sun Mar 02, 2008  at  04:08 AM
That's a great example of a well-performed hoax. They used a credible person as the "expert" and the explanation of the "phenomenon" is believable.

I can well understand why it fooled a lot of people. Nicely done!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Mar 02, 2008  at  05:27 AM
I found this link for an online Swedish translator, am I too late?

http://wonderzone.alluvium.com/chef/
Posted by coit  on  Sun Mar 02, 2008  at  11:08 AM
A place where you can find many professional translators for these types of needs try Language123, very easy to find professional translators and interpreters that can help.
Posted by Sammy  in  Spain  on  Wed Mar 05, 2008  at  11:17 AM
Here is a video of actual broadcast the hoax: http://citysound.se/tag/Nylonstrumpa_för_Färg_TV
Posted by Translation  in  Stockholm  on  Sun May 11, 2008  at  12:44 PM
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