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April 1st 1965: Smell-O-Vision announced

On this day in 1965, the BBC announced the invention of an innoventive new way of watching television, known as ‘Smell-O-Vision’. Presented by a professor from London University, the device was demonstrated with the use of onions and coffee beans, which viewers across the country called in to say they could smell. Some viewers even insisted the onions made their eyes water! While Smell-O-Vision had been first introduced in the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, this involved timed releases of odors from machines in the cinema. What was remarkable about the 1965 invention was that it actually broke down scent molecules produced in a television studio to allow them to be transmitted through screen. Despite its ground-breaking nature, the invention remains fairly understated, with few people owning a Smell-O-Vision set and the majority retaining an archaic ‘television’ set instead.

“For best results stand six feet away from your set and sniff“

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The spaghetti harvest in Ticino, Switzerland. (Narrated by Richard Dimbleby)