What was the standard/low-end/high-end technology for television at that point?
I assume a great majority were CRT-based, and Laserdiscs were probably sold at the high-end. But what kind of connections and sizes were used?
Was my TV unique in only having RF, or was that the standard for mid-size Televisions in 1994?
So if I was looking for a high-end television that was 20" in 1994, what kind of set would that be?
It would be really interesting if someone had a Panasonic TV catalog from around then.
No, it was not unique. Nor was it a size issue, but rather of cost & feature set. I recall buying for my parents in 1986 a top-of-the-line 20" Sony that had at least one (if not two) composite video and stereo audio inputs (for the VCR). So having only a RF input and no AV inputs in 1994 puts it as a basic or low-end TV.
But what kind of connections and sizes were used?
The original RF connection on television receivers was two screws for 300 Ohm twin-lead. Later as coaxial cable became preferred over twin-lead for carrying the RF signal (and the cableTV industry may have had some influence), the 75 Ohm "F" connector was used as the RF connector. BTW what everyone simply refers to as a TV is properly termed a "television receiver", as opposed to the modular approach of separate tuner, (display-only) monitor, and speakers (e.g. Sony's Profeel line).
When multiple video sources started to be used in the home (e.g. VCRs, video discs, game consoles), baseband video (aka composite or CVBS video) and stereo audio inputs (with input selection on the remote control) began appearing on TV receivers. These were typically marketed as "TV/monitors". These video and audio inputs (on USA consumer units) all used the cheap RCA (aka phono) jacks. (On professional video & broadcast gear the video connector was BNC.)
When JVC introduced S-VHS in 1987, they used a 4-pin mini-DIN connector that is now known as a s-video connector. When DVD was introduced in 1995, YPbPr component video (again) used the cheap RCA jacks. YPbPr inputs would probably only be useful on large and/or high-quality displays. Late in the game, digital input connections appeared (i.e. DVI for video and HDMI for video & audio).
I had a Sony 27XBR15 made in 1989 that had two RF "F" input connectors (ANT1 & ANT2) (plus a RF out), 3 set of AV inputs (L+R audio, composite video and s-video), audio line-out and external speaker terminals. A top-of-the-line 20" set five years later would be probably still be similar (no component video yet), with AV inputs on the front.
My 20" Panasonic TV was made in 1994, and only has a coaxial jack for stereo sound and RF video.
RCA plugs & jacks are not generally called coaxial connectors despite their shape. Or are you mislabeling a headphone jack (3-pole 1/4") or earphone jack (3-pole 3.5mm)? The RF connection is not just for video.
Early to mid-90s high-end sets may have included a S-video input. JVC comes to mind, as they're the pioneers of S-VHS. A 27" JVC at my former workplace, manufactured 8/94, has two composite video inputs and a S-video input, as well as AV output, variable stereo audio output, and stereo speaker-level 8-ohm connection.
In 1995 I bought a RCA 31 inch TV with composite + L R in, composite + L R out, S-Video + LR in, audio out and speaker out.
As someone else mentioned component I/O started to be common on the better consumer CRTs in the late 90s. I still have a working Toshiba 480i CRT from 2006 that takes in component signals from DVD.
Back in 1982 or so it became standard at most TV stations to have monitors with component in as Sony BetaCam was starting to be used in most ENG/EFP productions including local news and BetaCam was the first truly portable video format to use component signals – yes 1982.
True, because it kept the cost down. Consumer-grade TVs typically have a hot chassis (which is essentially a cost-saving feature and has no safety or performance benefit), so video & audio connections to other electrical devices like a VCR can be problematic. I had a Panasonic TV that used opto-isolators on the TV's AV input board to deal with the TV's hot chassis. Some Sony XBRs (e.g. XBR15) had a cold chassis by using a power transformer after the AC power cord entered the TV.
I don't know why the RF input doesn't have similar isolation requirements like AV inputs. Does the RF voltage level (microvolts) that is like a millionth of the video voltage level make it inconsequential, or is the RF modulator in a VCR somehow isolated?
Back in 1982 or so it became standard at most TV stations to have monitors with component in as Sony BetaCam was starting to be used in most ENG/EFP productions including local news and BetaCam was the first truly portable video format to use component signals - yes 1982.
There is more than one type of component video. For consumer-grade stuff, component video refers to YPbPr signals. For computer monitors and some professional video gear, component video refers to RGBHV signals.
Certainly. Look at your local area's Craigslist for sale page and you'll find many in various conditions, at a price nowhere near what they sold for new (sometimes for free in fact). Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think any Trinitrons had component (YPbPr) inputs until the FD tubes came out with the WEGA line, though the 90s generation sets will have at least one S-video input.
edit: speaking of RGBHV vs. YPbPr component, my PVM-1341 (professional-market 480i video monitor) made in 1992 has a RGBS input in addition to the S-video and composite video inputs. RGsB/RGBS/RGBHV have all extensively been in use for decades for non consumer-grade electronics, as well as PCs (think of the ubiquitous VGA). When YPbPr component video rolled out for the consumer market, many people were in fact confused at first (many still are in fact).
BetaCam is not consumer but BetaCam uses three-channel analog-component video marked as Y, R-Y, B-Y. The analog component going out of your consumer DVD is the same three-channel analog-component video marked as Y Pb Pr.
Same thing, different labeling.
Y is luma.
Pb is blue - luma (thus B-Y).
Pr is red - luma (thus R-Y).
So the professional TV studio monitors built in 1982 made for BetaCam inputting will input a modern DVD player with analog component outputs. The only difference is pro gear has BNC connectors consumer gear has RCA connectors but a $3 adopter plug is all you need.
I used to work with anaolg betacam for decades.
When in doubt, ask, though sometimes they might not be willing to tell you the model number (for example "I can't see the back of it and it's too heavy for me to move myself"). In that case, ask them about specific features of that particular model.