This is the home of television’s living history…
This is television’s story, built one article at a time over a period of 10+ years. In writing and posting each of these, almost every story has bloomed to near perfection, thanks to the contributions of lost details, comments and first hand reports from industry veterans who were there. As you enter the new heart of the site, Daily Posts, I hope you will click to see the comments, and add to the conversation with your own.
Television’s cameras are truly “the eyes of a generation”, that have allowed us to bear witness to the Twentieth Century and beyond, in ways no one could ever have imagined…but it is the people in front of, and behind the cameras that have made the story even more compelling.
Among the thousands of images here, I’ve made a special effort to include hundreds of truly iconic photos…landmark images that reveal not only the technical evolutions, but the atmosphere and feel of those days as well. By choosing production images that feature the shows, stars and events of our past, that these cameras have made it possible for us to see, remember and cherish, I’ve tried to weave a tapestry. With each stitch adding to the big picture, I want to show you these great cameras in action, and at the same time, pay tribute to the personalities, places and programs that are indelibly woven into the American fabric. Welcome! – Bobby Ellerbee
Eyes Of A Generation is much, much more than the world’s greatest repository of television’s technological history – it is a lens through which the visitor can relive the emergence of the medium. Through a seemingly endless supply of imagery, stories and multimedia, the site is like a day spent at a wonderful museum, all from the comfort of your browser. An amazing contribution to broadcast history. Each visit reveals more and more.
Dr. Charles N. Davis
Dean, Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Georgia
I spent 46 years producing and directing news for NBC. I started in the “gee whiz” days, when we were dealing with the constantly changing technology and thinking “gee whiz, look what we can do now”. I came to NBC News in 1961 when President Kennedy came to office, and I directed the pool television coverage of his return to Washington from Dallas, the night of November 22, 1963.
Other assignments put me in the eye of history many times in the ’60, ’70’ and ’80s, from the “I Have A Dream” speech to Watergate and much more, but for over 20 years, I also had the pleasure of directing “Meet The Press”. All this is a prelude to say how much I appreciate the effort Eyes Of A Generation makes in preserving not only the “gee whiz” parts, but the moving, entertaining and informative parts of television’s history.
Here, what television accomplished through the years is being preserved as a “living history”, like no other place or resource that I am aware of. With rare photos, video and long forgotten, but important stories on the industry and its proud accomplishments, those remembrances are called to life with the comments of so many like me, that were there. This is an invaluable window to the past achievements of television, and worth of the attention of all those who value our media, past, present and future.
Max A. Schindler Emmy TV Legends
I remember talking to the late John Frankenheimer, one of television’s greatest directors of the live era. He emphasized how important his cameramen and the technology were to his success.
Here at the Paley Center in New York and Los Angeles, we have preserved the programming. I am so pleased that Bobby Ellerbee has created the website, The Eyes of a Generation, to preserve and celebrate a missing chapter from television history: the immense contribution of the TV camera to the industry and our culture.
With resonant photographs and evocative testimony, Bobby has brought that crucial technology back to glorious life. We understand in image and word why the camera was indeed the eye for many of our country’s most creative individuals. The Eyes of a Generation is a must for anyone interested in history of media and storytelling.
Curator, Television and Radio
The Paley Center of Media
In January 1954, I was hired at CBS Television City in Hollywood and worked there for the next 50 years, retiring in July 2004 as Executive Vice President in charge of West Coast Operations and Engineering.
I lived through the times most of the photos on this site so well depict, and was fortunate to be in a position to help develop the equipment and the production techniques of that era, many of which are still in use today.
Although many of my colleagues from those days are gone, fortunately the accomplishments and innovations from that time live on in these pages. I am most sincere in my appreciation for the effort Mr. Ellerbee has put into creating this historic site, for now, rather than lose this valuable television history, Eyes Of A Generation is a living archive of television’s proud past, and with so much information now available here on line, it can be viewed by students of all ages worldwide and hopefully contribute to an even prouder future.
This site is excellent, outstanding and greatly appreciated by our industry and the people, past and present that make television such a valued and important part of American culture.
Charles CapplemanBobby Ellerbee’s “Eyes of a Generation” project is one of the most important resources for American television history. His genuine love for television, combined with all his experience and connections, has brought us an indispensable resource for digging into the medium’s history.
Mike Conway, Indiana University
Author, The Origins Of Television News In America
A rich visual montage, reminding us how wonderfully cumbersome the first generations of television were. For visitors of a certain age, this fascinating site will bring back many fond memories. But you don’t have to remember Bishop Sheen or The Honeymooners to learn from Eyes of a Generation. It charmingly captures not just the earliest television cameras, but the dedicated crews, cramped sets and expansive performers and events of our past…this is true television history.
Dr. James L. Baughman
Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Author, Same Time, Same Station: Creating American Television, 1948-1961.
Author, Television’s Guardians: The FCC and the Politics of Programming, 1958-67
Author, Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the Modern American News Media
Author, The Republic of Mass Culture: Journalism, Broadcasting, and Filmmaking in America since 1941
Great job, Bobby. You’ve captured the history, excitement, and the people of our glorious business. Thank you for including me in all your great work. You are our “Keeper of the Flame.”
John Pinto, Saturday Night Live – NBC New York
As a retired NBC network television cameraman, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your website and to compliment you on all that you’re doing to preserve television history. In fact it was one of my friends, John Pinto, who is still doing Saturday Night Live, my old show, who steered me to your website as we’re both TV history buffs. I started in 1967 and grew up with the RCA TK-41s in my early days at NBC. I retired in 2001 after 36 years behind the NBC cameras, with 26 of them at SNL. I’ve seen a lot of TV history, and it’s great to see so much of it here and so well done. Bravo!
NBC New York
As an author, and lifelong student of television history, I consider The Eyes Of A Generation a unique and remarkable resource. All those with an interest in TV’s history, whether casual or serious can learn here, and be entertained by this image rich tapestry that tells the story of television’s past through its cameras. Although personal reminiscences are of course valuable, I personally consider photographic evidence extremely important, as although the camera can sometimes lie, it doesn’t usually suffer from memory loss or confusion. The Eyes Of A Generation has a wealth of photographic “gold,” and future books and programs on the subject of television will certainly benefit from the memories preserved here.
Author, Television Innovations – 50 Technological Developments
When it comes to the history of something that captured your imagination as a child, nothing means more to you than to be able to reach out and touch those things that were present and a part of that history when it took place. Bobby has lovingly dedicated himself to not only preserving this part of television history but allowing us to reach out and touch it as well. It’s a remarkable collection of images, stories and reporting. Thank you, Bobby, for your dedication to keeping our history intact.
Historian, CBS Television CityWow! What a lane of memories you’ve displayed on your website. I was with NBC in Burbank for 33 years. When I retired in 2001, I had spent 23 years as the West Cost Technical Director for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. You have done a wonderful job in documenting television’s history. Now future generations will get an intensive “behind-the-scenes” look at what television was like in our era.
You can’t talk about the Liberty Bell without talking about the American Revolution, and vice versa. They are woven into the same fabric. This site about TV cameras is really about the history of television and the society it portrayed. The site doesn’t just show you cameras; it shows you what they captured and how they did it. They are emblems of another age, and we can see that age through them here, as clearly as the audiences saw their stars through them.
Head, Digital & Broadcast Journalism
Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor