Video Pioneers Remember Historic HDTV Debut

Grand Alliance Prototype

Twenty-five years ago this week, the world’s first HDTV¬†broadcast system was unveiled in Las Vegas at the 1995 NAB Show.¬† AGC Systems’ Aldo Cugnini was there, as one of the many engineers who developed the “Grand Alliance” digital HDTV¬†system.¬†¬†Then at Philips, Aldo had a leadership role in the system’s development, which went on to become the ATSC digital television system.

Click here to see historic videos of the debut of HDTV.

Selected Papers

  • The Promise of Mobile DTV, NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference Proceedings, 2011.
  • A Revenue Model for Mobile DTV Service, NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference Proceedings, 2010.
  • Considerations for Digital Program Insertion of Multiple-Video Programs, NCTA Fall Technical Forum, 2002.
  • Digital Video and the National Information Infrastructure, Philips Journal of Research, Volume 50, Issues 1‚Äď2, 1996.
  • MPEG-2 video decoder for the digital HDTV Grand Alliance system, IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol. 41, Aug 1995.
  • Grand Alliance MPEG-2-based video decoder with parallel processing architecture, Intl. J. of Imaging Systems and Technology Vol. 5, No. 4, 1994.
  • The ISO/MPEG Audio Coding Standard, Widescreen Review, June/July, 1994.

More about …

Prior to his DTV work, Aldo developed various audio, content delivery and broadcast technologies at CBS Laboratories. He was also Chief Engineer at WKCR-FM and a broadcast engineer at WABC and WPLJ, all in New York City.  

Aldo received his BS and MS degrees from Columbia University, is an inventor on fourteen issued patents in the fields of digital television, audio, and broadcasting, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Advanced Television Technology Center.

A speaker at various industry conferences, he is the author of numerous technical papers and industry reports, including chapters in the 10th and 11th editions of the NAB Engineering Handbook, and has been a regular contributor to several trade publications.

A joint recipient of a 1997¬†Engineering Emmy¬ģ¬†statuette and R&D Magazine‚Äôs 1998¬†R&D 100 Award¬†(both on behalf of Philips), Aldo is listed in¬†Who‚Äôs Who in America, and is an inductee of the¬†Academy of Digital Television Pioneers. He is a Senior Member of¬†IEEE, with memberships in its¬†Broadcast Technology Society and¬†Society on Social Implications of Technology.

An active member of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), Aldo also participates in the ITU-R Study Group 6 Working Party 6A (WP 6A) – Terrestrial broadcasting delivery, and co-chairs its ‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčRapporteur Group on Revision of ITU-R Texts To Include ATSC 3.0.¬† He has also been a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), and the¬†Consultants’ Network of Northern New Jersey¬†(CNNNJ). ¬†In academia, Aldo has served as Adjunct Professor of Engineering Technology and Engineering Science at the¬†County College of Morris in New Jersey.

Aldo holds FCC Commercial General (formerly First Class) Radiotelephone and Amateur General Radiotelephone (W2AGC) Operator’s licenses. He is an inductee of the Eta Kappa Nu honor society, and was a top finalist in the IEEE-USA Congressional Fellowship and New America TechCongress Congressional Innovation Fellowship programs.  His volunteer efforts include particpating in the Catchafire initiative, being a mentor and judge with the NSTEP TechXplore program to advance STEM education in America’s classrooms, providing stage lighting design and production for local schools, and as an adjunct musician for various youth and non-profit orchestras.

Aldo CugniniIn his spare time, Aldo has been an avid timpanist with the Hanover Wind Symphony and the South Orange Symphony Orchestra, and now performs with several groups in Frederick, Maryland. As a semi-professional musician, he has performed music by composers ranging from Beethoven and Mahler to Leonard Bernstein and Philip Glass, in venues that have included Carnegie Hall and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey. His other interests include astronomy, radio-controlled helicopters, ham radio, and writing for Wikipedia and the occasional blog. He maintains memberships in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).

A Rich Heritage — and a Debt of Gratitude

Aldo Cugnini has worked with and studied under several widely-respected authorities in their fields.  He has benefited greatly by having known them and others:


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AGC Systems was founded in 2003 by engineer and technologist Aldo Cugnini, and has offices in New Jersey and Maryland, USA. 

Aldo Cugnini is well known in the Digital Television¬†(DTV) industry. ¬†Prior to launching¬†AGC Systems, he held various technical and management positions at Philips Electronics‚Äô Research and Consumer Electronics Divisions, and at interactive television developer ACTV (now part of Nagra). While at Philips, Aldo had a leadership role in the development of the ATSC¬†digital television system (and its progenitor, the “Grand Alliance” digital HDTV system), and was a key member of the Advanced Television Research Consortium (ATRC) HDTV development team.

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Photo credit, El Caracol: Marian Zobler

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