2008 Summer Olympics Begin Today

The Summer Olympics begin today from Beijing, China. NBC Universal will be airing the most Olympic coverage in history with 3,600 hours on NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo, Universal HD and NBCOlympics.com.

American television began to air the Olympic Games as early as August 1936. Variety described this early attempt, thusly: “Definition of 180 lines, 25 frames per second, was very unclear and unsatisfactory…. General feeling is that commercially practical television is still several years off.” Seventy-two years later, the 2008 Summer Olympics will be the first Olympics to be covered entirely in high definition.

The Archive contains many interviews with the TV legends who captured the spirit of the Games. Designer Ray Aghayan, Sportscaster Curt Gowdy, network exec Don Ohlmeyer, and producer David Wolper, are among those found in our collection. Watch this clip from Wide Wold of Sports sportscaster Jim McKay (right) talk about the first televised foreign Games (from Rome) in 1960 and his encounter with Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay).
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