For a long time, in many places, there was no TV channel. If you are looking for channels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, or several parts of Europe or Asia, you will see a gap between 36 and 38. When the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opened up high-frequency signals for the use of television stations in 1952, there were, of course, many companies claiming their own bandwidth. 2,002 new channels were created in 1,274 cities across the United States, but the number 37 remained unspoken.
This is not the story of a hotel room that refuses to have 13 rooms for fear of misfortune. The range was kept clear to help astronomers study the sky with a little help from astronomers and … alien rumors. In 1931, Carl Jansky, a radio engineer, was tasked with discovering the sources of statics that interfered with translatable telephone transmission. Using the impressive tools he created for this work, he was able to detect three types of interference positions: local lightning, distance lightning, and a third source he cautiously referred to as “extremely stable hiss stable which is not yet known.”
He suspected – correctly – that the signal came not from Earth, but from the center of our galaxy. He was the first to detect signals from extrinsic sources. Radio astronomy took decades to truly begin, writes Ernie Smith on the subject of Channel 37 in Tedium. With the building of a 121-meter (400-foot) wide radio telescope in the city of Danville, Illinois, the field became really exciting after the war. The telescope relied on being able to use the 608-614 MHz range. British mathematician and cosmologist George C. “Because of engineering, if we have a frequency of about 600 megawatts, we can only build a big one,” McVittie recalled in an interview with the American Institute of Physics.
“Otherwise, the perfection of the image, if we went to a shorter wavelength, there was nothing you could do by the acre, at least not at that time, which was and in the late 1950’s and so we chose this 610 MHz band of observation frequency.” They had a range, but it needed to be ensured that it could keep people free from interference. There is no point in having this huge radio telescope just to restore I Love Lucy. The problem was, the limit on where Channel 37 would go was just right – and the television stations wanted it badly.