Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Chicago TV Class Picture

Chicago TV Class Picture

With Chicago’s WBKB still on my mind from this morning’s post, I thought now was a good time to add this photo of the windy city’s bright start of the small screen from the early days. The names are at the bottom and should be viewable in ‘full screen’ mode.


The EMMY Awards: Part 1

The EMMY Awards: Part 1

In the video below from the 1953 Emmy Awards show, we see the independent station, KHJ’s cameras bringing us great scenes of Vivian Vance (Ethel) and Lucille Ball (Lucy) accepting their awards on this local broadcast. Interestingly, all 3, including Desi Arnaz push for a ‘writer’ category that soon was added to the mix of awards.

The first six Emmys were awarded January 25, 1949, and the very first went to 20yearold Shirley Dinsdale, a Los Angeles ventriloquist, for being the Most Outstanding Television Personality.

The original Academy of Television Arts and Sciences was founded in 1946 by Syd Cassyd, a reporter for a TV trade magazine in Los Angeles and a grip on Paramounts back lot.

The Emmys originally were to be called Ikes, a short form for the television iconoscrope tube, but there was concern they would be linked to Dwight D. Eisenhower. So instead, Harry Lubcke of the Society of Television Engineers came up with a feminization of Immy, a term used for the early image orthicon camera tube but the name was feminized to Emmy to match the look of the trophy statue. Dorothy McManus was the model for her husband, Louis McManus, as he designed the winged golden girl holding up the universal symbol of the electron, which would become the Emmy Award statue. He received a plaque from the Academy at the first awards ceremony.

In 1951, Red Skelton accepted the Best Comedian award by saying, I think this should have gone to Lucille Ball. In 1950, when Groucho Marx accepted the honor of TVs Most Outstanding Personality, he picked up Miss Emmy, the former Miss America Rosemary LaPlanche, and carried her off the stage, leaving his statue behind.

6th Annual Emmys. Vivian Vance wins as well as best situation comedy for I Love Lucy.


The EMMY Awards: Part 2

The EMMY Awards: Part 2

Here is a photo from the 1955 Emmy Awards. NBC originated this first ever coast to coast simulcast. Starting in 1955 to 1971, the Emmys were simulcast from both New York and Los Angeles to quell jealousies between rival cities, frequently resulting in screens going blank for up to a minute. It was a costly arrangement and NBC paid $110,000 for the first transcontinental hookup.

When the Emmys were first broadcast in 1949, there were 1 million TV sets in the United States. By the national broadcast of 1955, there were 25 million.

ATT was nominated for an engineering Emmy but lost in 1951 for the transcontinental microwave relay system that made possible live coast-to-coast television broadcasts.

The Emmys have been televised every year except 1954 when there were disputes between the east and west coast chapters, and were shown for the first time on a national broadcast in 1955 on NBC. The January 16, 1957, Emmy awards ceremony was the first to be telecast in color.

Ed Sullivan and New York’s TV elite forced the establishment of a separate bicoastal group, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1957.

In 1977, after suits and countersuits, the bicoastal academies finally agreed to work together. The NATAS, based in New York, manages daytime, sports, news and documentary, international and local awards. The newer Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, located in California, bestows primetime prizes.

The number of categories for Emmys has fluctuated wildly over the years, from six the first year to more than 40 in many seasons. Even the wording changes, fluctuating from best to outstanding. Once there was a separate category for Westerns, but those Gunsmoke and Maverick days are gone at least for now. Cable TV programming was not allowed to participate in the primetime competition until 1987.

Jackie Gleason never won an Emmy, but his pal Art Carney won five for The Honeymooners. Deadpanner Ed Sullivan, who caused the bicoastal split in the academy in June 1955, smiled when his show received the Best Variety Series award that year. He never won a personal Emmy in voter competition, but was given a Trustees Award in 1971.

Rod Serling won his third successive writing award in 1957 for The Comedian, about the struggles of a burlesque king adjusting to TV. The award for the story, obviously based on Milton Berles life, was presented by Berle.

The Emmys ceremony for the 1958-59 season is remembered for the notorious Astaire Affair, when the dancers first television special, An Evening with Fred Astaire, won all nine of the awards for which it was nominated, thus establishing an Emmy record. Ed Sullivan asked that the ballots be impounded.

Huckleberry Hound was the first syndicated program and the first cartoon series to take home an Emmy, which it did in the 1959-60 season.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Macbeth, a $750,000 production filmed on location in Scotland and broadcast as a two hour color presentation, is considered by many television historians to be the first made for TV movie. It received five Emmys at the 1961 ceremony, including one in the rare category, Program of the Year.


The Twist! 1960, TK10 Shoots First Live Performance

Let’s Twist! 1960, American Bandstand

In the first 10 seconds or so, Dick Clark intros Chubby Checker while standing in front of a TK10 on a Houston Fearless 30B stage crane. I was 10 when this song came out and played this record a lot. Actually, the Twist was a cool dance.

Chubby Checker – The Twist


Did you know CBS made tubes?

Did you know CBS made tubes?

I didn’t either till I saw this old ad with Gary Moore. The tube business was probably a part of the TV set maker, Hytron that CBS bought in 1951 to make ‘Air King’ home receiver sets compatible with it’s Field Sequential color system. Interestingly most of those home sets that were sold were bought back and destroyed after the FCC went with RCA’s Dot Sequential color system.


Finally! I’ve wondered for years what this pedestal is and now I know


I’ve wondered for years what this pedestal is and now I know…it’s a Canon MC 300 and it was made in Japan. I never knew Canon made television equipment other than lenses. I think it is like the Vinten Fulmar in that it has 2 telescoping columns under the brake ring. A lot of these were in use in Japan, Asia and Australia.


Best Ever Behind The Scenes Sports Video! Part 2

JACKPOT!!!! Best Ever Video! Tell your friends and share this!

This is part 2 (of 2) of a 1976 film documentary of ABC’s coverage of the Ohio State-UCLA football game from Los Angeles. “Seconds To Play” is a half hour total and takes us everywhere, every step of the way!



Best Ever Behind The Scenes Sports Video! Part 1

JACKPOT!!!! Best Ever Video! Tell your friends and share this!

This is part 1 (of 2) of a 1976 film documentary of ABC’s coverage of the Ohio State-UCLA football game from Los Angeles. “Seconds To Play” is a half hour total and takes us everywhere, every step of the way!

Part 2 to follow shortly AND…MORE LIKE THIS SOON! ENJOY!


A First! Here is a photo of Bing Crosby’s first appearance on television. …

A First!

Here is a photo of Bing Crosby’s first appearance on television.

With a shortfall of funds facing the U.S. Olympic team, Hollywood luminaries gathered on the stage of the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles and pleaded, cajoled and implored the television audience watching on both NBC and CBS to phone in their pledges.

The 14 hour telethon was hosted by Bob Hope and his frequent co-star in the Paramount Pictures string of “Road” movies, Bing Crosby, who until then had shied away from television.

A week before the telethon, Hope marked Crosby’s impending television debut by showing a large cutout of his friend on “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” Crosby, a CBS man, and Hope, always on NBC, joined forces at the behest of Vincent X. Flaherty, a legendary sports columnist for the now-defunct Los Angeles Examiner and a drinking and golfing buddy of both men.

Perhaps the biggest coup of the telethon was in getting Crosby to appear on television. Crosby already has turned down several well-paying opportunities to appear on television.

“This is one time I couldn’t refuse,” Crosby said. “I think every American should get behind our Olympic team and send our athletes across at full strength; and in the finest style possible. We’ve got to show those Reds up.”

The 1952 Olympics were the first ones that pitted Americans against Soviets, and the Communists were heading to the Games predicting victory.


First Instant Replay!

MUST SEE (AND READ) TV HISTORY: The First Instant Replay

You can see part of the story in the video, but the interesting details on how this was done is here in the text story. Enjoy!

An Ampex VR-1000 helped make broadcast history on Dec. 7, 1963.

CBS Director Tony Verna ( from WCAU-TV originally) had been pushing the sports television envelope in an effort to bring more of the game to viewers. He was hired by then-CBS executive Tex Schramm, before Schramm became the first president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.

Verna had worked with tape during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. CBS aired the Games via tape delay… recording the tapes in Rome, and flying them to New York for playback.

In his book “Instant Replay” Verna recalls working around the bureaucracy at CBS to let him take one of the 14 Ampex VR-1000s from the tape room at Grand Central Terminal and haul it to the era’s college football showcase, the Army-Navy Game in relatively nearby Philadelphia.

Millions would be watching the game… delayed more than two weeks by the assassination of President Kennedy. The game pitted Navy’s Roger Staubach against Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh.

Its not clear from Verna’s book or other re-tellings which model of VR-1000 was used, but given that the VR-1000’s in Grand Central were put into service in 1958, that meant pulling the transport and two racks of electronics out of the building and into a truck.

On location, Verna planned to use the cue track to overcome two problems: Finding the right place to start playback, and overcome the long, often ten second lock-up time machines required before showing a clean picture.

He told audio man Dick Livingston to record one beep on the cue track as a team broke a huddle, and a pair of beeps when the ball was snapped.

The timing process worked in run-throughs… but the VR-1000 didn’t always lock up in time to be put on the line.

That was partly due to the piece of tape being used: A spliced five minute hunk of what Verna recalls was Scotch 179. It had previously been used to record a Lucy Show and still had content on it that would appear when least expected.

It finally worked. CBS’s George Drago was on the isolated camera patched into the VR-1000 John Wells was operating.

For three nervous quarters, Verna peered into his monitor and studied his two guinea pigs, Navy quarterback Roger Staubach and Army counterpart Rollie Stichweh. Verna had assigned one camera to follow only the two signal-callers, primarily because Staubach was so skilled with his ball-handling and fakes that most cameramen couldn’t keep up with him.

Although Staubach was the winner of the 1963 Heisman Trophy, it was Stichweh who made television history that day. Stichweh faked to an Army halfback before running into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, Army’s last in a 21-15 loss.

The requisite beeps sounded in the production truck. Words passed through cables and into headsets. Seconds later, a clear image of Stichweh and the Army offense appeared on the monitor. Verna pulled the trigger and threw the picture on air.
“Here it comes,” he warned play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson, to whom he had revealed his intentions only hours earlier, during the taxicab ride to Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium.

Nelson didn’t even have time to forewarn his audience that they would be witnessing television history. Most important, though, Stichweh “re- scampered” into the end zone and the very first instant replay went off without a technical hitch.

So as not to confuse viewers, Nelson alerted his audience to what they’d just seen: “This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”

During the game, Schramm phoned Verna in the truck. “My boy,” Schramm told Verna, “what you have done here will have such far-reaching implications, we can’t begin to imagine them today.”

Many thanks to Ted Langdell at Quad Videotape for this very interesting information, and more that will follow soon!

Bobby Ellerbee

Tony Verna, the inventor of Instant Replay


TV History: October 5, 1947…First White House Broadcast

TV History: October 5, 1947

Below, a single RCA TK30 pool camera is shown bringing President Harry Truman to the nation in the first ever television broadcast live from the White House. The first President to appear on TV was Franklin Roosevelt who spoke at the opening session of the New York World’s Fair on April 30, 1939.


Ever seen my camera collection?

Ever seen my camera collection?

In case you have never have, I’m re posting this story from Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, WXIA. It’s from a couple of years back, and there are more cameras now but this is still fun. Enjoy!

Vintage TV Camera collector, Bobby Ellerbee is featured on an Atlanta news station. The news piece covers Mr. Ellerbee’s extensive collection of television c…


Jerry Lewis: Video Assist Pioneer

Jerry Lewis: Innovator Extraordinaire

Jerry is responsible for bringing video assist to film making. In 1965, Sony built for him “Jerry’s Noisy Toy”…a 6 or 7 foot rolling rack with video tape, audio tape, turntable and more all built into this one mobile console. They could know on the spot if they had what was needed for each scene. In the video below, at the 3:00 minute mark, you can see a minute or two of the ‘toy’ in action. This unique Lewis creation forever changed the way movies were made. Thanks Jerry! For Everything!

Jerry Lewis Janet Leigh 1966 behind the scenes featurette “Man in Motion”


A Rare Treat and Real History! The Gray Telop Machine

A Rare Treat and Real History! Take a look and tell your friends. If you can add to our understanding of this, please do!

Just added (June 2) 6 more rare Telop images from the late 50s.

Before slides were introduced into the Telecine chains, there was the Grey Telop machine. I think slides and slide drums came on the scene around 1955, but before that, there was only this method for displaying still art without using a studio camera. The Grey Telop was used to project images of opaque cards into a camera. The operator had to manually push a holder with 5 or 6 cards into place and pull the lever to make a light bulb inside reflect off a mirror and into a camera.

Thanks to Gady Reinhold, we are able to see the Grey Telop machine and some of the actual cards that were shown on the air from his collection. More details with the photos.


MLB Productions Tour Of Their New Studios

MLB Productions Tour

Here’s an inside look at Major League Baseball Network’s new production center.

In this episode of MediabistroTV’s “Cubes,” we tour the headquarters of MLB Network. The impressive space, which is also home to MLB Productions, features mu…


Back Stage on “The Price Is Right”

Back Stage on “The Price Is Right”

Now this is interesting…we have Noreclo PC70s at Television City in 1982. I think the next cameras there were Ikegami HK312s. This piece is from a local morning show somewhere called ‘2 On The Town’. Enjoy.


Here’s Dick Clark interviewed for the Emmy’s TV Legends Series.

Here’s Dick Clark interviewed for the Emmy’s TV Legends Series. This starts with how and when he got into the business and the origins of American Bandstand comes at 16:00. Enjoy!!

See the full interview at Dick Clark was interviewed for one-and-a-half hours in Burbank, CA. Clark sp…


Sullivan History With Director John Moffitt

Happy Easter! For Sullivan Fans, here the pize egg…

John Moffitt worked as a production assistant and later assistant director on Sullivan for many years. In this interview segment, he covers a lot of ground that’s fun to hear.

Streisand @ 11:00, the Bing Crosby vocal flub that Art Shine fixed @ 14:00, cameras @ 16:45, color @ 18:50 and The Beatles @ 25:13. Good stuff. Enjoy.

Full interview at:


The Match Game Camera VS Gene Rayburn

Just For FUN!
The Match Game Camera VS Gene Rayburn

If this upload works right, you’ll get 4 videos that show the Norelco PC 70s at Television City at work on The Match Game. Gene liked to mess with them as you’ll see here. Thanks to Juan Leal in San Diego for these clips. Enjoy!


BBC Version Of RCA TK41…Marconi BD 848 Video

How Very Interesting!

Here is something very rare! At just over 2:20 in, the BBC’s version of the RCA TK40/41, the Marconi BD 848 color cameras appear on the screen. One has a viewfinder, one doesn’t but you rarely see these in action.

The whole piece is great and shows lots of ‘new’ developments like turrets, zoom lenses and more. There’s a look inside an ‘old’ Iconoscope camera and a lot of different cameras I’ve never seen before. I think the only Marconi cameras are the color cameras and the rest seem to be EMI cameras. The one with the fixed metal lenses is the EMI 10678 with ‘permanent lens hoods’. Great reference info at Brian Summers site,

A Panorama programme from June 1956, with Richard Dimbleby, showing a behind the scenes view of technological advances in BBC Television. Showing the studios…


Keeping The Cameramen In NBC Studio 6B On Their Toes!

Keeping the cameramen in Studio 6B on their toes, here’s Chris Farley on Conan from the New York days. Check out the last 40 seconds or so and notice that they (like SNL) are using a sound boom here too. Thanks to ABC camera veteran Howie Zeideman for sharing.

By God… 99.9er% of this video was made possible by the user XposeTruth. Watch the original here:




I’m happy to share these first pictures of an Ikegami 377 that I have just added to my collection. There are a few more photos below in the new album.

The green CBS logos are added as a tribute to 46 year CBS veteran cameraman Dave Dorsett who retired from the David Letterman show in December. Each camera on that stage has a different colored CBS logo and this was Dave’s color. (You can see videos of him further down the page.)

This camera is one of two 377s I have. Both began service at Turner Broadcasting and later were donated to WPBA in Atlanta and were recently retired. My thanks to WPBA for these cameras and for helping me round out the collection to include some of the more recent studio sized, hard bodied cameras.


Water Cooled Studio Lighting…1944

Water Cooled Studio Lighting…1944

Recently a few discussion questions have popped up…one of them on the GE Mercury Vapor studio lights that were water cooled. Yes, it sounds a bit crazy, but they had them and GE made them. Above is a page from the 1944 GE Catalog that can be found on the ARCIHIVES page of Eyes Of A Generation. There is a lot of other interesting information there too.


Finally…A HOT CAMERA At My House!

Finally…A HOT CAMERA! I’m quite happy to finally have a working camera in my collection. This is a Sony BVP 370, the first Sony chip camera and it came from WXIA/WATL in Atlanta complete with rack and monitor. In the video I call it a 360 tube camera, but found out just after I did this that it was the 370.

The rack controls 3 BVP 360 hard body cameras and one handheld. I have all 3 hard bodied cameras and am quite greatful to many people for all their help in obtaining, transporting and set up including Gary C, Joe L, Gary L, John M and Cliff C. One slip in my narration…Pat Weaver was the first president of NBC TV, not RCA TV.


Sammy Davis Opens In Front Of Crane Mounted TK41

Interesting! Sammy opens the show in front of a crane mounted TK41. If you look closely, you see the teleprompter moving on the camera behind him too. Back then, all that had to sync up with cables. Given the people involved, I suspect this if from Burbank. I love the Voice Overs at the end…you may too so be sure to listen. Memories!

from April 22, 1966. thanks to fromthesidelines and wmbrown6 for the great comments and info on this clip.


True Rarity..The Striped Banding On The RCA TK11/31s

Two True Rarities…

Rarity One…the striped banding on the RCA TK11/31s. This was fairly common on the TK10/30 at CBS and this was actually a quick grey scale adjustment for cameras. The TK11/31 handle in front of the grey bars diluted their purpose, so they quit using the bars on the TK11/31 cameras soon after this.

Rarity Two…this photo is from set up of the April 8, 1955 ‘Person To Person’, live interview with Marilyn Monroe from a home in Connecticut. The link above is the interview itself done by Edward R. Murrow, who was live in NYC.


Water Cooled Studio Lights & Early Studio Shots, WRGB TV

Now this is interesting. Although dated 1948, I suspect the RCA part was shot a couple of years earlier as that portion shows the rare RCA Orthicon camera and not the TK10/30 Image Orthicon camera that came out in ’46. The GE part shot at GE owned WRGB shows thier Iconiscope cameras in use and 2 of these same cameras are on display at the Schenectedy Museum and can be seen at the bottom of the GE page at my main site (link below) with different art work. Ira H. Gallen Video Resources 220 West 71st Street NYC 10023 (212) 724 – 7055 http://www.v…


RCA TK41s At NBC Burbank Capture Holiday Color Treasure

Thanks to the fabulous RCA TK41s and NBC Burbank crew, here are 2 GREAT back to back Andy Williams Christmas songs. Even as degraded as the online video is, look how brilliant the color and sharp the image! Remember, a lot of this is done with big HF cranes and sound booms flying every where. Notice in the second song, the wreath has to go over the big Varitol 5 lens and stay there till the end, when it tries to come back just a few seconds early for the final shot. Now THIS is REAL TV! Merry Christmas!


The Team That Came Up With The RCA TK 11/31

This is the team that came up with the RCA TK 11 – 31. Only known photo of the original engineering team with one of the first TK 11s at Camden plant. Photo from RCA Engineers Digest Nov 1952 donated by RCA Engineer Harry Wright.


1987 Tour Of Television City

Something fun on Television City. Short and sweet. Enjoy!

A feature on the history of, and some of the shows originating from CBS Television City.


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