Welcome to the Archives section. On this page, you will read and hear untold stories and see unique images.

The main difference between the Archives and Library page is…the content here was not widely available to the general public, where as content in the Library was. The Archives mostly contain information that was created for internal use, or as business-to-business material from broadcasters and affiliated industries. This is also home to unique, unpublished information contributed by authors, and a good example is the great AT&T Book…Connecting The Continent For Radio And Television by our friend Mark Durenberger,

Some of the other exclusive features of this page include my Total Color Camera Sales In The US, The Ellerbee Classic Camera Census, and First Person, An Oral History of Broadcast Television. Dozens of new entries on a variety of television topics have been added, with more to come. -Bobby Ellerbee


December 27, 1947…"Howdy Doody" Debuts EXCLUSIVE VIDEOThanks to Burt Dubrow, America's top Howdy expert, WE ARE ABOUT TO SEE SOMETHING MOST HAVE NEVER SEEN…THE ORIGIANL HOWDY PUPPET ON ONE OF THE EARLIEST SHOWS RECORDED! This kinescope is only 21 minutes long, and most likely was done as a test of the new kinescope system introduced […]Read More »

The Early History of Howdy Doody...Television's First Hit Show

If you’ve never seen this image, you are missing a key part of the early TV history, and just added to this…the earliest known kinescope video of the show from April 6, 1948.   “The Howdy Doody Show” was network television’s first daily show, and later, the first daily color show. With the help of Howdy expert […]Read More »

RCA Red Book, "The Equipment"...Holy Grail Of Early Color Television History, Part 1 of 2

In 1953, RCA submitted 700 pages of documentation to the FCC as a “Petition For Approval of Color Standards for RCA Color Television System.”  Due to the bright red cover, it is generally referred to as “The Red Book,” and every detail you could possibly want to know about RCA’s color system is included.  I […]Read More »

RCA Red Book, "The History"...Holy Grail Of Early Color Television History, Part 2 of 2

In 1953, RCA submitted 700 pages of documentation to the FCC as a “Petition For Approval of Color Standards for RCA Color Television System”.  Due to the bright red cover, it is generally referred to as The Red Book, and every detail you could possibly want to know about RCA’s color system is included.  I […]Read More »

RCA Color Television...Best Color History Primer Ever!

From the David Sarnoff introduction to the history highlights at the end, this is one of the best short study resources you will ever find. Every angle of the how, when and why are in this special December 1953 publication from RCA. More »

AT&T Book...Connecting The Continent For Radio And Television

By far, the most informative collection of information I have ever seen on early telephony and broadcasting. Without AT&T’s help, there never could have been radio, or television networks with such immediacy and reach. Until satellite communications, Ma Bell was the only way to connect, and overall, they did a great job, as did Mark […]Read More »

First Person Oral History

This is an ongoing project, and from time to time, we will add audio interviews to this list, but here are the first of the series with a short, one line bio on each but their full story is in these hour long sessions. Enjoy! 1. George Sunga: Producer of Smothers Brothers, All In The […]Read More »

Total Color Camera Sales, USA, 1954-1982, RCA & All Other Brands

Total Color Camera Count for USA 1954-1982 from RCA, and 1964-1981 including all major brands Thanks to our friend Lytle Hoover at Old who has single-handedly collected volumes of information from the historic documents he has collected, we have for a few years now, had for a pretty good idea of how many RCA color […]Read More »

Ellerbee Classic Camera Census

This is the world’s first and only count of the remaining studio size television cameras from the Golden Age and beyond. Over 60 years of history is represented in this survey. The sad news is, there are very few that have made it. Included in the census are the RCA, Norelco, Marconi, GE and Dumont […]Read More »

Starting From Scratch...The Earliest CBS Grand Central Studios Images

Starting From Scratch, Earliest CBS Grand Central Studios Images In the fall of 1939, CBS began work on the area they had chosen to become their premier television studio facilities. When it was all said and done, Studio 41 and 42 were created in this space you see below, in this one gigantic hall. Studio […]Read More »

Gray Research Telop Machine, Television's First Optical Projection System

Here is a rare copy of the 1953 Gray catalog with a price list at the end. This machine was able to televise opaque cards, which was the forerunner of transparent slides. It also had add on features that would allow a news type horizontal ticker scroll across the bottom of the screen (on real […]Read More »

NBC's Former Brooklyn Studios

Blueprints of the former NBC studios in Brooklyn.Read More »

RCA Broadcast News, January 1954

“Color Television – What It Means To Broadcasters” is the tile of this issue, and this was the first issue ever wholly devoted to one subject. That subject is color TV, and this is a fascinating time capsule. On page 62, there is a multipage, photo-filled introduction of the RCA TK40 color camera, but all […]Read More »

Rare Details Of RCA's First Reseach Lab...7 Van Cortlandt Park South

On page 10 of this 1956 Radio Age, there is a short but sweet description of a “unicorn”…the rarely mentioned but very important Van Cortlandt Park lab and research center, which was RCA’s first. There, W2XBS (now WNBC) came to life, as did the first ever magnetic coil loudspeakers and much more!Read More »

RCA Broadcast News, April 1961

From April 1961, here is what EVERYBODY was doing with color. From networks to local stations and cameras to tape, this packed-with-pictures edition of RCA’s Broadcast News is all about color.Read More »

RCA Broadcast News, October 1946

RCA introduces television’s first workhorse…the TK30 Image Orthicon Camera…in a multi-page article. This was the first IO camera, the first camera with a rotatable lens turret, and the first to be mass produced. Many of these cameras were in use all the way up to the time that color finally took over in 1965. On […]Read More »

"Howdy Doody" Script, 1960

Thanks to our good friend Gady Reinhold at the CBS Broadcast Center, here is one of the many treasures from his personal archives…a real script from The Howdy Doody Show,  Notice on the first page, C-K in the top right, which denotes a Chroma Key shot, with actors dressed in all blue, for the “invisible […]Read More »

1935: "The House That Radio Built"

If you have ever marveled at the complexity of building a state of the art facility, like NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, here is your chance to read about those well laid plans. In this rare, 1935 look at the construction and operation of NBC’s new Radio City facilities, you’ll see all the fascinating […]Read More »

NBC Broadcast Operations, Program Schedule Sheets, 1951-58

NBC broadcast schedules from 1951, 1952, 1954 and 1958. This is the best ever guide to see which studios were being used at a time when radio and TV were sharing space at 30 Rock, and looking for studio space around the city. Here are some keys to the Abbreviations here, so you can better understand […]Read More »

1967: First Anniversary Of NBC's Full-Color Schedule

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-1-47-47-pmNBC heralds the first anniversary of being a full-color network, which occurred November 7, 1966.Read More »

RCA/NBC Firsts In Television, 1923-1941

RCA and NBC outline their early achievements in television. Notice that May 7, 1935 was the day that NBC Studio 3H at Rockefeller Plaza began it’s million dollar conversion to RCA Experimental Television Studio 3H. Read on…there is more treasure here for history buffs.Read More »

1951: CBS Television At 20

CBS looks back on 20 years of television innovation in this 18 page review from July 1951…smack dab in the middle of the Color War with RCA/NBC.Read More »

1948: NBC Puts Kinescopes In Use

  NBC announces the first use of kinescoped recording on its network, June 27, 1948.Read More »

1950: NBC Converts Studio 8H For Television

NBC’s announcement that the RCA Building’s largest studio would be making the switch to a new medium. This August 11, 1950 memo also mentions that Studios 3A and 3B will have finished conversion by Labor Day of 1950.Read More »

1948: NBC Sums Up The Year

NBC takes a look at the many big advances it made in 1948, like increasing the size of the TV network from 4 to 25 stations, introducing Kinescopes and much more.Read More »

CBS Television City Documents

Press releases and news articles about the construction and expansion of CBS Television City.Read More »

CBS Color Studio 72

A fascinating 27 page report on the CBS color facility in New York, Studio 72, from May of 1955.Read More »

1931: Constructing NBC's 711 Fifth Avene Radio Studios

A look at how NBC’s radio studios at 711 Fifth Avenue were designed and constructed. Before the move to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in 1933, NBC’s called 711 Fifth Avenue home for five years, although they had custom built this location only 5 years before. While still crowded into their first office and studio location at […]Read More »

Building Studios 6A And 6B

A 1942 RCA Review look at the design and construction of NBC’s brand new, twin sixth-floor studios at Radio City. Built for radio, but planned with an eye on the future of television.Read More »

1949: First West-East Kinescope

A 1949 NBC press release notes the first transmission of a West Coast kinescope to the East Coast.Read More »

1949: KNBH Is On The Air

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-8-27-20-pmA 1949 press release notes the debut of NBC’s Los Angeles station.Read More »

"The Birth and Rebirth Of Studio 3A"

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-12-46-49-pmNBC veteran Frank Vierling looks back on the transformation of NBC Studio 3A for television.Read More »

1957: "Truth or Consequences" Goes To Videotape

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-15-32-pmA sign of things to come is heralded in this press release.Read More »

The Early History of WEAF...NBC Radio's Flagship Station

A rare document looks at the earliest days of the station that NBC bought from AT&T, which we now know WNBC. It was the flagship station in New York, on which the NBC Red Network was based, and later, the NBC Radio Network.Read More »

RARE! NBC Television Studio Technique, 1940

As NBC continued to refine its efforts toward commercial broadcasting’s debut, here’s what its staff had distilled on the subject of studio technique. This was written by NBC’s first studio cameraman, Albert Protzman, and this gives us a first hand account of the lessons learned in NBC Studio 3H, the first home of electronic television.Read More »

NBC - Recent Television Developments, 1940

From none other than Vladimir Zworykin, and R. E. Shelby, here is an engineer’s dream come true…a full report on the state of television in 1940. BUT…at the start is a very interesting historical look back on how they got there, which highlights things that Dr. Zworykin believes to be milestones…including the work or Filo […]Read More »

NBC Television Lighting, 1940

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-35-26-amFabled NBC Studio 3H proved not to be only a testing ground for the new electronic cameras, but a testing ground for all things television! From scenery to lighting, it all had to be worked out, and 3H was where it was done. Lighting directors had to know television shots, and the close up camera […]Read More »

The Planning & Design of NBC Studio 3H...Home Of Electronic Television

This is TV MEGA HISTORY! In 1935, RCA leaned forward into the development and testing of fully electronic television. The testing had to be done in a real TV studio, but since there were none…it was up to them to design and build the first ever television studio. From 1937, here is the detailed report […]Read More »

NBC Broadcast Operations, Program Schedule Sheets, 1949-51

Four pages of Operations Sheets from NBC Television’s early days. This is the best ever guide to see which studios were being used at a time when radio and TV were sharing space at 30 Rock, and looking for studio space around the city. Here are some keys to the Abbreviations here, so you can […]Read More »


A while back, I got a question about an odd looking NBC camera in use in 1947. Interestingly, I had the same question last year and passed around a picture to a group of what I consider REAL experts. There was a lot of discussion but finally Ed Reitan, who has the great Early Color […]Read More »


  Chapter One: by Bobby Ellerbee Over a period of months in 2009, I spoke to former RCA engineers Lou Bazin and Larry Thorpe, and to Fred Himelfarb of NBC, about a troubled period for both companies…the 1960s. Those conversations focused on topics from how the RCA TK41 cameras continued to evolve, to what happened […]Read More »

The Virtual Archives of RCA Engineer Harry Wright

He helped design the RCA TK42, TK42XX, TK43, TK44, TK47, TK48, TK76 and more. The man in the suit is Harry Wright, one of RCA’s most respected mechanical engineers. I had the privilege of getting to know the man who designed some famous cameras for RCA, Mr. Harry Wright. To get things started with a […]Read More »

CBS Field Sequential Color Cameras at Studio 57

Below I have collected more than twenty images of the fabled CBS Field Sequential Color cameras in action. Until their debut here, these images have not been seen like this before. Below, Ed Sullivan prepares for his part in the production that is documented in this one-day sequence of photos. This page is mostly about […]Read More »

Six Decades of “Tonight"

THE TONIGHT SHOW: Six Decades of Television and Camera History A look back at more than 60 years of the cameras that brought us everyone from Allen, Paar and Carson to Leno, O’Brien, Leno and Fallon Included below: RCA TK10s, TK11s, TK41s, TK44s, TK47s, Sony HD 1000s and Sony HD 1500s and 1550s I’ll begin […]Read More »

WSB-TV: The Early Years

Here are about 16 images from Georgia’s first TV station, WSB-TV in Atlanta, showing their RCA TK30s at work. The station signed on September 29, 1948 and use the TK30 till around 1954, when a few TK11s were added. In the early ’60s, WSB went to the RCA TK60s, then got the first delivered TK42s. […]Read More »

WAGA-TV: The Early Years

This was Atlanta’s second TV station. It was a CBS affiliate until the late 1980s. WAGA had TK30s and later TK11s, but never had TK60s. The station bought Norelcos in 1966 or so. Like WSB, there are virtually no photo archives left, but here’s all that I know of. The station is now a FOX […]Read More »

WKY-TV: First In Local Live Color

In this piece, you’ll see television history in the making that starts in 1949 and continues into the present. Now standing safely in Boston is one of the first two color cameras ever delivered to a local station: WKY-TV in Oklahoma City. The Black and White Years  /  The Color Years  /  The Rescue of […]Read More »

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