Mr. Adventure wrote:
I believe the US was slower adopting widescreen than other countries which may have been a factor. I'm going off memory and hearsay but I believe Europe had widescreen CRTs before HD but in the US widescreen only came with HDTV.
Your memory serves you well. Widescreen (standard resolution) CRT TVs were introduced in Europe in the 1990's, widescreen HD CRT TVs were introduced in Japan in the early 1990's. The Japanese had come up with their analogue MUSE HiVision HD Format, but the Americans didn't want to adopt that as they saw digital technology show up at the horizon and rather wanted to wait.
But, as a matter of fact, by 1987 there was talk in the entertainment industry (including Paramount Studios, no doubt) about the future "wide-screen" television where the original US approach favored an aspect ratio of 15:9 or 1.66:1.
In a non Star Trek related AV forum one guy claimed
he had talked to Rick Berman and Brent Spiner and according to one or both them the TNG DPs had been supposedly asked to composite their images in a fashion that could enable a future widescreen extraction but not all directors adhered to that.
But, of course, since nobody mentioned it yet, it might be a good thing to actually ask several of the original TNG directors of photography if that is true rather than to assume that 4:3 is all they ever did or wanted.
And how they like to see their work presented on a flat widescreen.