RCA TK47

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This is the RCA TK47. It was the last big studio camera RCA made.

This camera was largely the creation of RCA engineer Larry Thorpe, who later moved to Sony’s camera division to develop the BVP 360 and 370. Larry is now at Canon, where his specialty is HD lens design.

The TK47 was used until the mid-1990s by NBC, and much later by local stations. In 2010, the last four working TK47s, located in Hickory N.C., were retired…but only because it was impossible to get any more tubes for them.

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The pictures above were taken by Bob Meza at NBC Burbank 17 years apart. On the left is the day in 1979 when the TK47s went into service, with Bob behind camera one. On the right is a photo from the day in 1996 when they were retired from service.

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Each of my cameras is dressed to salute a specific era of television history, and this camera is no different. Above and below, you can see the camera has three square NBC logos applied. The NBC logos came to be from Bob Meza, who applied these exact same logos to all the studio and remote truck TK47 that operated out of NBC Burbank.

As a tribute to the help given to me by people at NBC’s KNBC-TV in Burbank, I have dressed one side of the camera with their call letters. As a tribute to those helpful souls at NBC’s WNBC in New York who long ago donated one of their WNBT (now WNBC) TK30s to NBC president Pat Weaver (a camera that was once part of my collection), I decided to dress the other side of the camera with their call letters. Both are Channel 4.

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