Posts in Category: Broadcast History

You Mean They Weren’t Driving A Real Car To California?

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You Mean They Weren’t Driving A Real Car To California?

On January 10, 1955 the cast of “I Love Lucy” set out for California…sort of. It was Season 4, Episode 12.

The clip is not great, but it shows us how this looked when it was framed and shot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au4oQpC5Djc

The car is a new Pontiac convertible. Here we have the cut away car with a rear projection screen showing them heading west.

If you ever wondered about this famous song, “California, Here I Come” was written for the 1921 Broadway musical ‘Bombo’, starring Al Jolson. The song was written by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Meyer, with Jolson often listed as a co-author. Jolson recorded the song in 1924 and it was an instant hit. -Bobby Ellerbee


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1939 Hollywood Tour…The Studios, Movies & People Making News

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1939 Hollywood Tour…The Studios, Movies & People Making News

The great “March Of Time” newsreel archives give us a look at Tinseltown as it was in July of 1939. The studio bosses are all here as are shots from the sets of “Gone With The Wind”, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and more!

Everybody from DeMille and Capra are here as well as Sennett,
Keaton, Chaplin, Zanuch and even Lee De Forest. You’ll also see the men that Howard Hughes fought with at the Hayes Commission when they tried to keep the best part(s) of Jane Russell off the silver screen. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCEvAtQWXxE

The March of Time Hollywood History- The Movies March On! Volume 5, Episode 12– July 1939. For screening and comparison purposes ONLY under Fair Use doctrin…
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ESPN Presents MegaCast Production for College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T – Clemson vs. Alabama – ESPN MediaZone

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90 Cameras Ready For…College Football Championship Game Tonight

For college football fans, tonight is the night! Alabama and Clemson will face off at 8 PM in Tampa with ESPN covering the game from every angle, with more than 90 cameras inside Raymond James Stadium, including staples of ESPN’s production: SkyCam, Pylon Cameras (all eight), and a full complement of RF cameras and steadicams. Additional production highlights:

Super Slow-Motion: Nine super slow-motion cameras, including a super slow-motion camera on the SkyCam

Arial Coverage: Both the DIRECTV and Goodyear blimps have coverage from high above the stadium

Goal Posts: Cameras affixed to both goalposts

Replays: More than 35 replay machines

4K Cameras: Four different 4K cameras

Virtual Graphics: SkyCam with the ability to provide virtual graphics

ESPN has more than 1,000 staffers onsite, 65 transmission paths between Tampa and Bristol and have added 70,000 feet of cable in around the stadium.

If you watched yesterday’s video of the 1977 NFL game I posted, this is a far cry from their 6 camera, 1 instant playback machine. As a Georgia Bulldog, I’m pulling for Alabama where our new coach worked with Nick Sabin for 9 years. Next year, I want to see UGA play Alabama in this game! And Win! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2017/01/espn-presents-megacast-production-college-football-playoff-national-championship-presented-att-clemson-vs-alabama/

ESPN Presents MegaCast Production for College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T – Clemson vs. Alabama – ESPN MediaZone

ESPN’s unrivaled, multi-network production capabilities will be on full display for the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T between Clemson and Alabama on Monday, January 9, at 8 p.m. ET with the presentation of the fourth MegaCast. The traditional game telecast airs on…
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An Hour Long Look At CBS Covering The NFL Live, 1977

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An Hour Long Look At CBS Covering The NFL Live, 1977

Sunday morning…time to settle in with a great hour of television history and a big cup of coffee. -Bobby Ellerbee

Here’s a special on how CBS covered a Redskins – Cardinals game in 1977 from Washington’s CBS station, WTOP with thanks to Tom Buckley for sharing ‘The Game Behind The Game’ with us.

This was shot in five parts and the meatiest ones to me are parts 2 and 4…those are the technical sides, but there is a lot of familiar faces and interesting background information in the other parts too.

Part one takes us inside the trucks and announcers booth and has a bit about football history…sort of.

Part 2 starts at 10:15 and gives us a good look at the Thomson cameras (six in use) and some conversations with the cameramen including Stan Gould. Director Sandy Grossman is in every part.

Part 3 takes us into the announcer’s booth with Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier and starts at 21:20

Part 4 starts at 31:35 is full of “how we do it” info in which we see the demonstrations of the vidifont, slow mo and instant replay discs. We also visit audio and the sidelines with the “red hat” man who works with the referee on network commercial breaks.

Part 5 is the wrap up and starts at 41:42. Again, enjoy and share!

https://vimeo.com/96740685DC local EMMY WINNING hour special on how a network shoots a “live event “like a football game. This inside look at TV production answers Who does What…
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FIRST EVER VIDEO RECORDING…September 20, 1927? YES!

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FIRST EVER VIDEO RECORDING…September 20, 1927? YES!

Until yesterday, I had never heard of this and found it hard to believe, but here is the amazing proof laid out, fittingly…in 3 video reports.

In the 1996 report, a single disc of the John Logie Baird video record or Phonovision had just been discovered. As you’ll see, no one had ever seen it, because even Baird had not created a way to play it back, so another Scotsman had to build a way to see it, which is covered there too.

The images were from 1933 and showed The Paramount Astoria dancing girls, shot with a 30 scan line mechanical system. In the 1998 story, 11 more Baird discs have been found, with the earliest dated September 20, 1927. This report includes bits from those newly discovered discs, and at the end there is interesting archival film of Alexandra Palace being made ready for the tests of the competing Baird mechanical system, and Marconi-EMI’s new electronic system.

The 1999 CNN story is a condensed version. You learn something new every day, and after all…isn’t that what life is all about? -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg6Qtdz6cwQ 1996 BBC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnBNz52goXk 1998 BBC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2mb4R9W9TI 1999 CNN

Triggered by my discovery and restoration of a video-only fragment from a BBC 1933 30-line TV programme, Tomorrow’s World featured the results of this and Ph…
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Happy 25th Anniversay…”ABC World News Now”

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Happy 25th Anniversay…”ABC World News Now”

Here is our friend Barry Mitchell with “World News Now” creator
David Bohrman and the effortlessly hilarious Lisa McRee. Here are some clips that didn’t make the show’s anniversary reel, but are a lot of fun. https://vimeo.com/197808948


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SPECIAL NBC NY STUDIOS HISTORY…FIRST HAND ACCOUNT

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SPECIAL NBC NY STUDIOS HISTORY…FIRST HAND ACCOUNT

This article includes A MUST READ, FIRST HAND ACCOUNT from one of NBC’s veteran cameramen, Frank Vierling. His story starts 68 years ago today, on his first day, January 6, 1949, and gives us details of the little known NBC mobile camera units used INSIDE 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in studios that were still radio studios!

The Birth and Rebirth of Studio 3A

By Frank Vierling, with thanks to Joel Spector

I was hired and reported for work on January 6, 1949. All new engineering hires had to pass through Whitney Baston’s studio audio operations class. I was assigned to Kinescope Recording, for about a month, waiting for a new class opening. Following Mr. Baston’s class I worked a few studio shows before being assigned to the TV Field group where the mobile units were, garaged in Long Island City.

Field had two mobile units, each equipped with three camera chains. Unit 1A’s gear was color coded blue and Unit 1B’s was Yellow. (These units covered sports, but were mostly used to televise shows from the theaters NBC was acquiring, but had not yet equipped permanently).

A third set of cameras (the Green Gear) was stored in Rock Center and moved to different studios as programming required.

Only two studios, 8G and 3H had their own cameras. The Green Gear covered the NBC Symphony from 8H, Perry Como in 6A and Milton Berle in 6B, among others.

On a 1949 Saturday, still a member of TV Field, I was part of a crew assigned to work in NBC Studio 3B. We moved the Green Unit (in house) equipment to 3B and set up for Jon Gnagy’s show “You Are an Artist”. John hosted the very first “learn to draw” show on TV.

Following Gnagy, one camera was pushed across the hall into Studio 3A for “Story Book Time.” An actress, dressed in a Little Bow Peep costume, read and turned pages of a giant story book. (This was TV’s first use of 3A although technically it was just an extension of 3B.)

Before we broke for lunch, Leon Pearson did a noon news spot. While we were on our lunch break, Studio 3B was set up for the prime time “Phil Silver’s Arrow Shirt Show,” which was followed by a Pearson news spot at 11.

After the Pearson news spot, we moved the gear and set up Studio 6A for Sunday morning’s Horn & Hardart “Children’s Hour,” hosted by Ed Herlihy. With little sleep and short turnaround we were back in for the Sunday broadcast day. In addition to the “Children’s Hour,” we did “Leave It to the Girls,” with Maggi McNellis in 6B (cameras pushed across the hall). The cameras returned to 6A for the “The Meredith Wilson Show” and sign off news with Leon.

The Birth of TV in 3A.

Sometime in 1949 Field received three new camera chains. At first, it was thought they were to replace or add to our Field equipment. We soon found they were bound for studio 3A. The gear was coded RED. With the Red Gear, 3A became the third TV Studio. A variety of shows originated from 3A, a few I worked were “Morton Downey’s Mohawk Rug Show” and “The Roberta Quinlan Show”, the sitcom “Henry Aldrich” (“Coming Mother”), “Who Said That?” and “Date in Manhattan”. – Frank Vierling

Many thanks to Frank for capturing that great history and Joel Spector for sharing it. This photo shows the NBC Green Unit in use on one of the first “Texaco Star Theater” broadcasts from Studio 6B. Notice they lit the show with only a dozen scoops. The Green Unit’s camera control units were mounted on rolling carts and were always set up in the sound lock hallways of each studio.

The signals eventually wound up in Master Control, but just where the director, TD and switcher was is not known. I know that later, but still before TV control rooms were added, some TV people were in the radio control rooms of these studios. Perhaps they had a portable video board, or the signals went to the control rooms of either Studio 3H or 8G which were real TV studios. I’ll try to find out from Mr. Vierling, who’s in his 90s now. -Bobby Ellerbee


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January 6, 1952…First Ever “TODAY” Promo, Live With Fred Allen

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January 6, 1952…First Ever “TODAY” Promo, Live With Fred Allen

At 16:27, a sketch starts with a mysterious body on the set, but at 19:17, the body awakens…to our surprise, it is a sleepy Dave Garroway. https://archive.org/details/SoundOffFred1952#

In my story here Monday, we found out that the full staff of the new “TODAY” show began reporting to work at 4 AM, Monday January 2, 1952, to get them acclimated to their new schedules, two weeks prior to the January 14th debut. This aired at the end of that week, on Friday night, the 6th.

This is also a rare look at “Sound Off”, a show that had rotating hosts that included not only radio star Fred Allen, seen here, but Bob Hope and Jerry Lester as well. The show only aired for a few months, and this is one of the last episodes. The announcer is Dick Stark.

I think this show came from NBC’s Uptown studios at 106 Street. Notice in the front of the gag, CBS gets dished and the “NBC Man” is called Mr. Weaver, a poke at NBC program head Pat Weaver, who of course was the creator of “Today”, “Tonight” and much more. -Bobby Ellerbee


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January 5, 1961…”Mr. Ed” Debuts + The Voice Of Mr. Ed…

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January 5, 1961…”Mr. Ed” Debuts + The Voice Of Mr. Ed…

Would you be surprised to know that the man who directed the first six “Francis The Talking Mule” movies in the ’40s, directed “Mr Ed”?

Makes sense doesn’t it? His name was Arthur Lubin, but you may be surprised to know who the voice of Mr. Ed was. I’ll save that for the second part of this story, and this unaired pilot episode is cued to the first time we ever hear Ed speak (at 8:21). http://youtu.be/-RK99bXOrJ0?t=8m21s

This is one of only a few shows ever released in syndication that was later picked up by a network for prime time. Produced by Filmways, “Mr. Ed” first aired in syndication from January 5 to July 2, 1961, and then on CBS from October 1, 1961, to February 6, 1966.

After the pilot was sold, a few things changed. Wilber and Carol Pope, played by Scott McKay and Sandra White in the pilot, became the Posts played by Alan Young and Connie Hines but the voice of Ed stayed the same, and here is that part of the story.

His real name was Harry Leonard Albershardt, but his stage name was Alan “Rocky” Lane – star of over 30 B movie westerns between 1947 and 1953. Those were his most notable “credited” successes…but not his biggest. See, he never got credit for being the voice of Mr. Ed.

At first, he didn’t want his name on the credits because he had been a successful screen actor, and being the voice of a horse was, well…a step or two down. But, once “Mr. Ed” became a hit, he changed his mind. By then, children had also caught on to the show and the credits listed Ed as played by “Himself”. Producers were afraid putting Lanes name there would “pop the bubble” so to speak and gave him a hefty raise instead.

From 1929 through 1936, he appeared in twenty four films. In 1937 his career began to soar as the star in 1938’s ‘The Law West of Tombstone’. In 1940, he portrayed “RCMP Sergeant Dave King”, the role becoming one of his most notable successes in a half dozen “Mountie” movies In 1946 and 1947, he portrayed “Red Ryder” in seven films. The following year, he became “Rocky Lane” in Western films.

Between 1940 and 1966, Lane made eighty two film and television series appearances, mostly in westerns, but also as the voice for Mister Ed (1961–1966).

Here’s a trailer of a western with him as Rocky Lane. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/riqbWwblgJw“Mr. Ed Original unaired pilot” This pilot does not have Alan Young or Connie Hines, but it does Allan “Rocky” Lane as the voice of Mr. Ed who remained the v…
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January 4, 1960…”Tonight” Show Moves To NBC Studio 6B

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January 4, 1960…”Tonight” Show Moves To NBC Studio 6B

By far, the most famous shows to originate from 6B are ‘The Texaco Star Theater’ and the ‘Tonight’ shows with Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and now, Jimmy Fallon.

‘Tonight’ of course started with Steve Allen and Jack Paar originating the show at The Hudson Theater, but on Monday, January 4, 1960, the show moved to 6B, Paar had begun taping January 12, 1959 and the show went color Monday, September 19, 1960.

On Monday, October 1, 1962 in Studio 6B, Johnny Carson debuted as the host of ‘Tonight’. -Bobby Ellerbee



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Rare Details Of RCA’s First Reseach Lab…7 Van Cortlandt Park South

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Finally! The RCA New York Lab Address Was 7 Van Cortlandt Park South….

Since the first pictures of Felix The Cat on the mechanical television turntable set began to be seen on this page over 5 years ago, people have asked me where that Van Cortlandt Park testing facility was.

Finally, today I found out in a book written about Dr. Zworykin. Now that I had that, I did more digging and found this two page article in a 1956 Radio Age Magazine. This was the first RCA lab and testing facility. It was built by RCA in 1924 and was their technical HQ, until the move to Camden in 1930.

This is where among many other things, magnetic loudspeakers were invented, and it was the first home of W2XBS television. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://eyesofageneration.com/rare-details-rcas-first-reseach-lab-7-van-cortlandt-park-south/

Rare Details Of RCA’s First Reseach Lab…7 Van Cortlandt Park South – Eyes Of A Generation…Television’s Living History

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! Re…
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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES, Part 1 of 3

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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES, Part 1 of 3

SURPRISE #1. If you always thought those were spotlights mounted in the black frame, you (and I) are wrong. They are actually quite the opposite of lights.

SURPRISE #2. If you always thought the contraption shooting through the opening was a camera, you (and I) were wrong. It actually quite the opposite of a camera.

SURPRISE #3. The things we thought were lights, are actually what make the images…those are photo electric cells.

SURPRISE #4. The thing we thought was the camera is actually projecting light, through a spinning disc, on the subject.

Such are the days of early television, but more precisely mechanical television. Tomorrow and the day after, there will be more surprises and more detail, but for now…at least we have something to think about. Happy New Year! -Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, the Felix photo was taken at RCA’s first lab, at 7 Van Cortlandt Park South in New York City, where the W2XBS testing began. On the table to the left is the transmitter. TV testing then moved to 411 5th Avenue, a few blocks south of the RCA HQ at 711 5th Ave., and later, to the Roof Garden Theater at the New Amsterdam Theater and finally to the 85th floor of the Empire State Building. The manikin with the camera is most likely at 411 5th Ave.



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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES, Part 2 of 3

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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES, Part 2 of 3

Surprise #1…THIS IS A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN PHOTO OF THE WORLD’S FIRST TELEVISION REMOTE BROADCAST, three years before John Logie Baird’s 1931 Epson Derby remote in England.

Surprise #2….This was also the first live television news event. Or, was supposed to be. It seems that all went well in rehearsal, but when Gov. Smith came to the podium, all the film cameras there turned on their bright lights, which washed out the ability of the photo cells to see the image.

Surprise #3…The photo was taken on August 22, 1928, as WGY transmitted Gov. Al Smith’s speech accepting his nomination for the U. S. Presidency. The event took place in Albany, New York, and 24-line pictures were sent back to Schenectady, OVER A TELEPHONE WIRE.

Using a telephone line for TV transmission was a relatively new event. Jenkins did a 5 mile “Shadow Graph” transmission in 1923, but it was late 1927 before Baird did a 435 mile transmission in the UK, and AT&T did a New York-Washington linkup.

This rare image is the one that started the idea for these surprise stories. I found it a about six weeks ago in one of the anniversary editions of the Broadcasting Magazine Yearbook (pg.4). http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC/BC-1981-50th/BC-1981-50-Years-of-Broadcasting.pdf

The three black boxes on stage caught my eye first, then the caption, which said, “These General Electric television cameras, from WGY Schenectady were said to be involved in the first TV remote when they covered New York Gov. Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic Presidential nominee, accepting the nomination in Albany.”

I was confused by the black boxes in the photo, but began to investigate. This is where yesterday’s surprises in Part 1 came into play. The two smaller boxes here are the photo electric pick up cells, and the big box in the center…the one we think of as a camera, is actually projecting a strong light through a scanning disc inside the big box.

Put another way, it is a “flying spot scanner”. In much the same way electronic television tubes scan the subject – delivered by the camera lens to the target screen, scanned from left to right, and top to bottom – the mechanical system’s “camera” projected a spot of light that scanned the subject the same way.

The images of the subject are made by the photo electric photo cells which are seen here as the two smaller black boxes.

Surprise #4…At the link is an incredible 20 second piece of film from WGY in 1928 that will explain how this works. WATCH CLOSELY and repeat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP-rgKUzsUI&feature=youtu.be

First, notice…the octagonal object on the left is the “monitor”, a mechanical televisor unit with a 3 inch screen. The smaller black boxes with the big glass objects are not lights, but the photo electric “eyes” that make the picture. The big black box with a lens on the front (that looks like a camera) is the light projector and the lens focuses the 1000 watt light inside, projected through a spinning disk.

Watch how the tech moves the small photo electric box like a camera…which is is.

This is part of the first ever dramatic television broadcast called “The Queen’s Messenger” and what you are seeing in this clip is how they shot a close up scene that concentrated on the actors hands, and what they had in them.

There were only four actors, these two hand actors and two face actors…a female Russian spy and a male British diplomatic courier. Only close ups were possible and there were three projectors in the room with six photo electric cell boxes. One projector was for the female face actor, one for the male face actor and one for the hand actors.

By the way, this is a brightly lit reenactment for the film camera, because the studio had to be twilight dark in order for the not so sensitive photo electric cells to capture the 24 lines of light projected onto the subjects.

Also shown here is an April 1928 diagram of the GE mechanical television process that includes the broadcast and reception method. Notice that two radio transmitters were used in these experimental broadcasts. The visual image was broadcast on GE’s experimental shortwave station W2XB operating on 37.33 meters (7.7 MHz) and the sound was broadcast over their radio station WGY, operating on 379.9 meters (790 KHz).

The last image is a simplified version of the broadcast apparatus from an April 1928 Mechanic’s Illustrated.

Tomorrow, how mechanical television morphed into the electronic version, and more surprises! Please share this with your friends, so they can be surprised too. -Bobby Ellerbee




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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES…PART 3 of 3

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SPECIAL!! EARLY TELEVISION SURPRISES…PART 3 of 3

With so many overlapping and similar events happening not only in the US and UK, but at RCA, Westinghouse, General Electric and AT&T, writing this synopsis is a real challenge. That’s why, as this final part leads us into electronic television, I am only hitting the major events, and giving you links to fill in the glorious details. You will find them at the bottom of the page.

In the next few days, I will also be writing a new story on some of the very interesting history I’ve discovered on RCA’s accumulation of brain power and inventions.

Surprise 1…We start with the first time the photo electric “eye” was actually put inside a light sealed box to make a television camera.

You can see that in the first photo, which is the AT&T “Direct Scanning System”. It was first demonstrated July 12, 1928 at the Bell Labs in New York, and was the first demonstration of outdoor television using sunlight and a scanning disc…something no other researcher had been able to do.

It was not revealed at the time, but the 50 hole, 3 foot disc system’s success was due to the new, Bell improved Case Thalofide photo electric cell.

On August 24, 1928, Philo Farnsworth gave a private demonstration of his all electronic system to Pacific Bell. The images on the
one-and-a-quarter by one-and-one-half inch blueish screen made images hard to identify, but the motion was easy to follow. Ten days later, he demonstrated it to the press in San Francisco. Reports were that “the basic principal of electronic TV had been proven and that perfection was just a matter of engineering”.

Surprise 2…Farnsworth applied for his first patent, which was on the Image Dissector tube January 7, 1929, but contrary to popular belief, he did not patent the first all electronic system. His patent did not specify a cathode ray receiving tube, as he was convinced that he could not patent such a basic device.

As I understand it, the real problem with Philo’s system was that due to some unlockable technical relationship between the Image Dissector output and the transmitted image, the size of the picture received was forever limited. That is, the only way to get a bigger picture on the receiving set was to massively increase the size of the Image Dissector tube.

Tests using a mechanical camera and an electronic receiving tube had been done as early as 1926 at Bell Labs, but half tones were not possible until improvements in the photo electric cells were made. That is why Bell’s Direct Scanning or Outside System was so important.

Finally in May of 1929, a 7” by 20” tube, fabricated by Corning Glass was given a willemite phosphor screen prepared by Zworykin’s group at Westinghouse. With it’s green phosphor screen, half of the goal of electronic television was accomplished. Here, half tones made a difference again, as part of the research Zworykin had done on the Westinghouse facsimile machine’s half tone transmission and reception was incorporated.

On November 13, 1928, Zworykin received an American patent on his improved all cathode ray television system. It was not until February of 1933 that RCA was able to demonstrate a fully electronic camera with Zworykin’s Iconoscope tube, which is shown here, with his recently developed spherical Iconoscope tube.
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At this link is a very thorough and photo filled article from Richard Brewster from our friends at the Early Television site.
http://www.earlytelevision.org/rca_story_brewster.html

Below are two excellent videos that take us through the whole process…from Nipkow’s disc and Baird’s work, to Farnsworth and Zworykin. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM7ZD5f9Pb8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9bV5LdlIhs




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January 2, 1952…”Today” Show’s Full Staff Reports To Work at 4 AM

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January 2, 1952…”Today” Show’s Full Staff Reports To Work at 4 AM

To get everyone acclimated to their new early morning schedules and ready for the Monday, January 14 debut, all writers, talent, technical and production staffers were required to report for work at 4 AM on Wednesday, January 2, 1952.

Their new home was at the recently renovated RCA Exhibition Hall space on West 49th Street, just across from 30 Rock, where the long shot photo was taken from. Preparation had begun some weeks before, with the set mostly completed by the 2nd, and staffers working daily across the street in a large NBC conference room to plan the show’s many element.

On Wednesday, January 9th, just three weekdays before the debut, dry runs began and all the images here are from that first day of rehearsals, which extended through the weekend.

There were several firsts on the show, including the use of at least two camera mounted teleprompters. Notice in the first photo, the RCA TK30 is mounted on a tripod, but this was only a temporary setup as the first two Houston Fearless PD 3 counter weighted pedestals ever made, arrived on January 10th and were in use on the debut. The other two studio cameras were mounted on the old PD 1 Houston Fearless pedestals. The last photo shows the new PD 3 peds in use on the debut show, with our friend Frank Merklein behind the camera.

http://www.today.com/video/today/44867991
At the link is the first 13 minutes of the show, and two minutes in, we see what is believed to be the first ever electronic “bug” and lower screen headline crawl. The headline crawl is achieved with the help of the Gary Telop Horizontal Tape Scroll, which used 8mm news ticker tape, like the paper tape in ticker tape machines. That effect was combined with an NBC developed electronic time display, which was a “Today” exclusive.

This original “Today” show street level studio is now part of Christie’s Auction House and a few hundred feet west of the current “Today” location in Studio 1A. Conveniently, “NBC Studio 1H”, better known as Hurley’s Bar, was just a few hundred feet west of Garroway & Company’s digs. -Bobby Ellerbee






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January 1, 1954…A Day Of Color Firsts And, A Quandary

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January 1, 1954…A Day Of Color Firsts And, A Quandary

63 years ago today was the first time the new RCA/NBC color trucks were used. Unlike the black and white RCA Tele Mobile units from the ’30s, which had a camera/switching truck and a transmitter truck, both color trucks were camera trucks, with the signal feed handled by one of Ma Bell’s ever-present microwave trucks.

It was the first west-to-east color broadcast to be nationally televised and of course, it was the first color broadcast of The Rose Parade.

The two new color remote trucks were ready in early December of ’53 and each truck had two RCA TK40s, which presents a quandary. According to RCA historian Lytle Hoover’s great statistics, there is no record of any TK40s being built in Camden prior to March-April of ’54 when RCA began their first assembly line run of 25 cameras.

I think perhaps they were using the Colonial Theater TK40 prototypes, as they had been “borrowed” for field testing in New York on many occasions in 1953, using one of the old Tele Mobile units converted to color. Although this is the oldest known photo of the trucks, I am pretty sure this was taken in New York in April of 54 with the new TK40s. -Bobby Ellerbee


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January 1, 1961…Behind The Scenes At KTLA & The Rose Parade

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January 1, 1961…Behind The Scenes At KTLA & The Rose Parade

The events in this great fourteen minute clip, were all filmed in the last week of December, 1960, and lead up to the air date of Sunday, January 1, 1961.

We’ll see how on this day, KTLA produced a Sunday news show at 1 PM, a live musical show at 2, and at 3, a color-cast of the Rose Parade.

This is full of RCA TK10s and TK41s, familiar faces like announcer Tom Kennedy, newsman Clete Roberts, cameraman Dick Watson, great control room and mobile unit shots and more.

I hope the KTLA vets among us will point out faces and places. Although we don’t get inside the color mobile unit, or the Telecopter (America’s first), built by Klaus Landsberg and John Silva, at least we get to see them in action. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vI-Y_nMs8gA

A look at how television programs are prepared for transmission, includes details of planning, rehearsals and the final televised shows. Examples are used to…
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NBCUniversal Gambles in Beantown With NBC Boston Launch

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2017’s First Big Television Venture…NBC Boston, Day 1

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For those not familiar with this historic move, here is the story from Variety. If you want to take a live look, here is a link. Good Luck! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/NBC-Boston-Weekend-Today-405265585.html

NBCUniversal Gambles in Beantown With NBC Boston Launch

New Year’s Day marks the launch of what might be considered the broadcasting equivalent of Boston’s Big Dig. At 3 a.m. on Sunday, NBC will flip the switch on NBC Boston, a newly launched O&O th…
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I THINK THIS SAYS IT ALL!

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I THINK THIS SAYS IT ALL!

Thanks to our friends in cold Times Square that helped us ring out 2016, and our friends in warm Pasadena who’ll help us ring in a rosy 2017!
Happy New Year! -Bobby Ellerbee


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December 31, 1955, “Your Hit Parade” With NBC Studio 8H Shots

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December 31, 1955, “Your Hit Parade” With NBC Studio 8H Shots

Starting at the 2 minute mark, the first number is sung by “the floor manager” with cast, crew and cameras everywhere in NBC’s Studio 8H, 61 years ago today.

I was surprised to see the cameraman on the Houston Fearless Panoram dolly spin the boom lift/lower wheel…he gave it a really good spin and even after he took his hand off, the boom kept going down as the wheel continued to spin. Even though I have a Panoram dolly, I never knew that the action was so free. as the action on mine is quite tight. Happy New Year! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-gBRvtbG9M

Aired 31st December 1955. The series had excellent productions. Regardless, this episode features the cast covering songs like “Autumn Leaves”, “Love and Mar…
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December 30, 1953…The First Color TV Sets Go On Sale

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December 30, 1953…The First Color TV Sets Go On Sale

On December 17, 1953, the FCC approved the National Television System Committee’s recommendation of the RCA Dot Sequential color system.

With the New Year’s Day Rose Parade just ahead, RCA pulled all the stops to broadcast it in color, and set up 20 target markets for special color viewing events, from coast to coast.

Remember, at the time, there were no color sets available to the public, and the only people who had ever seen color television were those that had seen RCA’s experimental broadcasts at the RCA Showcase in Rockefeller Plaza.

So the event could be seen, RCA rushed 200 pre-production receivers to a few to their top dealers in each city for this special event’s viewing parties, which were mostly held in darkened hotel ballrooms. Most events had several black and white 21″ sets with color sets between them. This not only showed the difference, but with the small 12″ color screens, helped with detail.

About one third of the local stations (the NBC O&O stations) in the target markets had color transmitters, but for those target markets that could not transmit in color, RCA had AT&T provide a color line to the display venues.

The target cities were, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, St. Paul, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Johnstown, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Wilkesbarre, New York and New Haven.

The RCA sets were the Model 5 prototypes with a dark cherry finish, and with only a few minor adjustments, it went on to become the CT-100 which was the first mass produced RCA color set. Starting March 25, 1954, 5,000 CT-100’s were manufactured in RCA’s Bloomington, Indiana plant.

Also shown here in a light wood finish is the Admiral C1617A which went to market the same day, as RCA was not the only set manufacturer with chips in the color game.

In April of ’54, the first 25 mass produced RCA TK40 color cameras began to be shipped. Prior to this, there were only four prototypes at the Colonial Theater in New York.

By the way, the sets sold for just over $1,000, which is the equivalent of $8,800 now. Neither Admiral or RCA were expecting to sell many receivers, but they wanted the public to know that color was here to stay and who to turn to when the time was right. -Bobby Ellerbee



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December 30, 1963…’Let’s Make A Deal’ Debuts On NBC

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December 30, 1963…’Let’s Make A Deal’ Debuts On NBC

Here is the pilot, complete with a TK41 in the foreground of the intro shot at NBC Burbank May 25, 1963.

The original edition of the show was a daytime series that ran on NBC, but moved to ABC in 1968 where it ran until 1976. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition of the show was broadcast from 1971 to 1977. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvNXm_5kLmo
Boost Post

This 37 minute pilot, produced on May 25, 1963 with Monty Hall as host and Wendell Niles as announcer/sidekick, led to the premiere of Let’s Make a Deal on N…
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By Request…The Creation Of The CBS Eye Logo

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By Request…The Creation Of The CBS Eye Logo

Told in a way only Charles Osgood can tell it, here is the story of how the iconic CBS logo came to be for Joe Berdosco in Nashville. If you have stories or subjects you would like to know more about, let me know in the Comment section here, or message me. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB63odkphhg

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the CBS eye in 2001, Charles Osgood did this report on the creation of the famous logo.
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The World’s First Four Television Mobile Units…1931 Through 1937

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The World’s First Four Television Mobile Units…1931 Through 1937

Thanks to a note from friend, camera collector and author Dicky Howett in the UK, I need to clarify a bit of early TV history regrading the first mobile units, and in this revision, include the just discovered Berlin Olympics unit.

Although RCA’s new twin Tele Mobile unit delivery to NBC on December 12, 1937 was a first in The Americas, it was not a “world’s first” event. It was more like a world’s fourth event!

It all began in 1931, when John Logie Baird did a 30 line, mechanical remote broadcast from the Epsom Derby. The first photo here shows that first mobile unit, and at this link is a detailed description of the event.
http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/OutsideTV.html

Next in time; August 1st through 16th 1936. The Summer Olympic Games were held in Berlin, and although the five electronic television cameras* there were handled by a control room in the stadium with direct lines to the transmitter, we have just learned that there was indeed a television mobile unit there. A very unique one which you can see outside the Olympic stadium and in the diagram.

The German unit was not what you would call a classic example, as it was not equipped to handle live action cameras, but it was a television remote unit…an “intermediate film” television apparatus.

It works this way…a normal cinema camera, mounted on a transport van, initially records the footage on film, which is sent down the camera’s light tight pedestal into the van. There, the film is immediately developed inside the van and then run through a flying spot scanner camera (so called because it moved a focused beam of light back and forth across the image), and electronically converted from a negative to a positive television image. Scenes from the just developed film could be broadcast with a delay of about a minute.

At this link, you can see the Telefunken cameras and the Berlin van, with an animated diagram of how it works.
https://youtu.be/VLDcA51lKqA?t=11m45s

John Logie Baird began developing the process in 1932, borrowing the idea of Georg Oskar Schubert from his licensees in Germany, where it was demonstrated by Fernseh AG in 1932 and used for broadcasting in 1934.

The BBC used Baird’s version of the process during the first three months of its then, “high-definition” television service from November 1936 through January 1937, and German television used it during broadcasts of the 1936 Summer Olympics. In both cases, intermediate film cameras alternated with newly introduced direct television cameras.

Television tubes developed by Farnsworth and Zworykin in the United States, and by EMI in England, with much higher sensitivity to light, made the intermediate film system obsolete by 1937.

Next in service was the BBC’s Marconi-EMI unit. The other photos here show the three bus BBC OB (Outside Broadcast) unit. It was first used at the Coronation of King George VI on May 12, 1937. Stationed along the parade route, the three EMI Emitron cameras (similar to Iconoscope) were able to get very good images as the King passed.

The three bus unit consisted of a mobile control room, a transmitter unit and a generator unit in case there was no available power supply. The OB unit was next used to televise the Wimbledon Tennis matches from June 21-July 2, 1937.

This was just about the time RCA was beginning to outfit their NBC Tele Mobile units for NBC. So, although they weren’t the first, they were certainly the most used. NBC pressed them into service at everything from boxing and racing events to football and baseball games, and daily duty at the 1939 World’s Fair.

As that event in America was kicking off and celebrating the coming of electronic TV here, the BBC’s television operation was contemplating shutting down out of fear that their signals could be used by the Germans as navigation and targeting aids, as the war in Europe drew nearer.

On September 1, 1939 they ceased all operations. The BBC Television Service remained dormant until Saturday 7 June, 1946.

*Above I mentioned the 5 cameras in Berlin and to be clear, there was the intermediate film camera in the van, three huge Telefunken cameras using Iconoscope technology, and an experimental Fernseh camera using the Farnsworth Image Dissector tube technology. -Bobby Ellerbee






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AMAZING NEW BERLIN OLYMPICS TELEVISION INFORMATION

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AMAZING NEW BERLIN OLYMPICS TELEVISION INFORMATION

If you are lucky, you learn something new every day, and today, we are all lucky! I had no idea that what you are about to read and see here ever happened, but thanks to yesterday’s post on the first mobile units, we have fascinating new images and video to share.

Thanks to David Breneman and James Freeman, we now know that there was indeed a mobile unit in service at the 1936 Berlin Olympics…BUT…not in the classic sense, of being equipped with live electronic video cameras shooting the action.

Instead, the German unit was an “intermediate film” television apparatus, which I had never heard of either.

It works this way…a normal cinema camera, mounted on a transport van, initially records the footage on film, which is sent down the camera’s light tight pedestal into the van. There, the film is immediately developed inside the van and then run through a flying spot scanner camera (so called because it moved a focused beam of light back and forth across the image), and electronically converted from a negative to a positive television image. Scenes from the just developed film could be broadcast with a delay of about a minute.

Here is a most excellent background and many illustrative photos from a German site. When you go here, your browser should give you the option to translate it.  http://hka-online.de/maschi/maschi001.html

At this link, you can see the Telefunken cameras and the Berlin van, with an animated diagram of how it works. The photos include a shot of the van, a diagram of the operation, US champion Jessie Owen and a Telefunken Canon camera.
https://youtu.be/VLDcA51lKqA?t=11m45s

John Logie Baird began developing the process in 1932, borrowing the idea of Georg Oskar Schubert from his licensees in Germany, where it was demonstrated by Fernseh AG in 1932 and used for broadcasting in 1934.

The BBC used Baird’s version of the process during the first three months of its then-“high-definition” television service from November 1936 through January 1937, and German television used it during broadcasts of the 1936 Summer Olympics. In both cases, intermediate film cameras alternated with newly introduced direct television cameras.

The intermediate film system, with its expensive film usage and relatively immobile cameras, did have the advantage that it left a filmed record of the program which could be rerun at a different time, with a better image quality than the later kinescope films, which were shot from a video monitor.

Television tubes developed by Farnsworth and Zworykin in the United States, and by EMI in England, with much higher sensitivity to light, made the intermediate film system obsolete by 1937.

I had no idea that motion picture film could be developed that fast, which brings up all kind of questions about NBC’s mad dashes to get kinescope film turned around for rebroadcast on the west coast.

Now…back to Berlin. In addition to the mobile unit camera, three state-of-the-art Iconoscope cameras are also used, among them Telefunken’s ‘Olympic Canon’, which earns its nickname due to the large lens. There was also a single Fernseh experimental camera there using the Farsnsworth Image Dissector tube.

There was a built in control room in the stadium, which fed the coverage to two special lines that went directly to the Berlin TV tower for broadcast. Therefore, there was no need for an electronic television remote unit, in the classic sense.

These cameras broadcast eight hours of moving images per day. There are 75 television sets in Berlin, most of them in the 27 public television parlous. There are two other parlous in Potsdam and Leipzig. At the time, the television broadcasts are sensational events for the audience. But they are barely comparable with today’s public viewing: the screens on the television sets are barely larger than a modern tablet PC display. Thanks for all the help in bringing interesting new information to light! -Bobby Ellerbee





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December 27, 1947…”Howdy Doody” Debuts EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

December 27, 1947…”Howdy Doody” Debuts EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Thanks 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 by RCA and Kodak in September 1947. Sometime in April of 1948, the month this was shot, three new RCA TK30 cameras replaced the three big silver RCA A500 Iconoscope cameras in Studio 3H where this was done. This could either be one of the last Iconoscope shows or one of the first Image Orthicon shows. Given the many dub generations this is away from the original, it is hard to tell what cameras may have been in use, but it looks like Iconoscope to me, as the TK30 was more crisp.

The actual date of this show is not known, but is most likely from Tuesday, April 6, 1948, which would be the first Tueday show after the birth of David Eisenhower on March 31, who’s birth is featured in the newsreel. The baseball score is from a spring training game as the regualar season did not start until April 20.

At this link, you will find the “Early History Of Howdy Doody”, that Burt Dubrow helped me write a couple of years ago, and it is packed with information you will not find anywhere else.

http://eyesofageneration.com/the-early-history-howdy-doody-televisions-first-hit-show/

A few notes to help you “see” the history in this. (1) When the show started, it ran only on Saturday afternoon from 5 till 6, but after about 6 weeks, the show began a Tuesday-Thrusday-Saturday schedule from 5 till 6. On the 11th show, Howdy announced he was going to run for President of the Kids of the USA. (2) The show was origianlly called, “Puppet Playhouse” featuring Frank Paris’ “Toby At The Circus” puppet troupe, and on the first show, which Bob Smith was the host and MC for, there was no Howdy puppet, as there was no time to make him, but Howdy was heard! He was in a desk drawer and to bashful to come out.

I mention these points because the first thing I noticed was the opeining title is now “Howdy Doody Time”, which is finally proof that the name changed long before many other sources say it did. It probably happend when the show went to 3 days a week, which would be about the second or third week of February 1948…possibly February 10th or 17th. Also, the Howdy for President banner is up. By the way, this would be the first show of the day, as only a test pattern preceeded the show, and when it eneded at 6, there was not another show until 7:15, so there was another hour and fifteen minuets of test pattern.

When the show starts, notice not only the look of the first Howdy (built by Frank Pairs), but also how different the voice Bob uses for Howdy is. Remember, the voice was developed for the original “Tripple B Ranch” radio character named Elmer, who became Howdy Doody after the kids started calling him that becuase of his greeting of “Well, howdy doody everybody”.

Notice also that the kids are seated in a way that they can only see Bob and Howdy on the monitors, and not at the desk…since Bob was not a ventriloquist, he moved is lips when he voiced Howdy, so it was best to hide that as much as possible. That kind of set up, with his back to the kids when Howdy was talking, continued for the life of the show.

At 13:45, when they go to what would later become the “peanut gallery” the kids are sitting on two, four seat “horses” which were brought over from the place Howdy was born, “The Tripple B Ranch” radio show. It was a kids quiz show and the contestants sat on these glorified sawhorses…when one of the kids got a wrong answer, they were “bucked off” the horse.

At 15:03, there is a really special moment! A clown comes in with peanuts for the kids, which seems to catch Bob off guard as he says “Who you?” and then, recovers after a second or two and says thanks “Robbie”. This is most likely the first time assistant stage manager Robert “Bob” Keeshan (Clarabell) had ever worn anything other than street clothes on the set while handing things to Bob Smith. Before the Clarabell costume, it is known that Director Roger Muir had gone to NBC’s wardrobe department for something to dress Keeshan in, and this classic operatic style clown suit was probably thier first try.

Many thanks agian to Burt Dubrow for letting us see this rare and historic clip from his collection. I hope you enjoyed this very special few moments with the original Howdy on this, the 69th Anniversay of what would later become America’s first daily televison program, and the world’s first daily color television program. It was also the first program to log over 1,000 episodes. Since this is the only place to see this video, please share it! -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”1185826961454851″]
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“Big Bang Theory”….THE ANSWERS TO, The Stair Case Mysteries

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“Big Bang Theory”….THE ANSWERS TO, The Stair Case Mysteries

This article will answer three questions many of us have about the “Big Bang” set and, the plot line too.

1. Is the staircase set a multi story set shot with a jib?
2. If not, is the stage raised or is there a hole in the floor?
3. Will the elevator ever be fixed?

You are about to find out, but I have to say, these question has intrigued me as much as the MAD Magazine “Schuster’s Fork” optical illusion of the 1960s.

Before I give you the answer, take a look at this short but sweet trip down the stairs from top to bottom, and it will answer Question 1.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYlNvOz-_Zw

As you see, it is a single set with two stair cases, but a single landing. Since the 4th floor is where all the action is, if long stair climbs are needed, the landing is redressed for each floor as the actors ascend or descend.

That still doesn’t answer the big (bang) question though, so let’s look a great tour of the set with Howard and Rahesh, with the stairs at 3:29. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-o1Sq1l1B0

With the camera dollies rolling down what looks like a concrete floor, it is beginning to look like maybe it is not a raised set, right? But if it is not…what about the hole? Was it there, or did “Big Bang” make it?

Here is the answer: When the pilot episode was shot, the project was done on Stage 25, which is one of the biggest and best on the Warner lot. To build the stairs, they had to dig a hole in the floor, which caused some friction, but it turned out to be a good thing for the bangers.

After the series was bought, Warner wanted to assign them a smaller stage. Creator Chuck Lorre said OK, “but we’ll have to dig a new hole there too”. With that, Warner let them stay on Stage 25.

As for Question 3, the answer is NO! The walks up and down the stairs are to useful as a plot device as it gives the writers a chance to tell parts of the story that would be hard to tell elsewhere. Now we all know! -Bobby Ellerbee


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The First Kinescope Images…”Colored Television”, 1933

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The First Kinescope Images…”Colored Television”, 1933

Earlier this week, I posted a story on RCA/NBC’s first TV transmissions from the new Empire State Building tower, and mentioned an interesting side story was to come later…here it is.

RCA/NBC’s 85th floor transmitters in the Empire State Building began experimental television transmissions from there on December 22, 1931. Separate transmitters for visual and aural transmissions were used with the call letters W2XF and W2XK respectively.

These two transmitters were operated concurrently with another NBC television transmitter already located at the New Amsterdam Theater studio on 42nd Street. This earlier station carried the call letters W2XBS (later transferred to the Empire State transmitter) and operated on approximately 2 MHz with 60-line, mechanically scanned picture signals, and received on mechanical scan receivers.

The first experimental transmission from the Empire State Building were 120-line pictures using mechanical scanning of both film and live subjects, BUT…these are believed to be the first high-power, high-frequency transmissions received and monitored by means of the kinescope, or cathode-ray picture tube.

At that time, the tubes had green fluorescent screens, since the white phosphor later used for black-and-white television had not yet been developed. The Empire State tests, even though at a line rate twice that of the W2XBS 60-line tests indicated that greater resolution would be required for a satisfactory public television service.

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” -Kermit

The CRT’s back then used the P1 phosphor as oscilloscope CRT’s did. Once they started using the P4 phosphor which was a silvery/white, the entire look changed, but the process for making P4 phosphor was not developed until a few years later.

The CRT numbers showed the type of phosphor used in each, for example…a common 21 inch monochrome CRT with the number 21FBP4 used the silver phosphor (P4). A common oscilloscope CRT was a 5UP1 (using the P1 phosphor…green). P22 was used in color CRT’s, for example a common color CRT was a 21FJP22. The last 2 to 3 digits indicated the type phosphor. P3 Phosphor was orange and P7 with a blue glow was used for radar. -Bobby Ellerbee


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A Merry Christmas Wish To You From Eyes Of A Generation!

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A Merry Christmas Wish To You From Eyes Of A Generation!

From myself, and my first comedic heros Moses Harry Horwitz, Louis Feinberg and Jerome Lester Horwitz…no matter the holiday you celebrate, may it be filled with joy! -Bobby Ellerbee


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December 24, 1934 …The First Traditional Christmas Special Debuts

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December 24, 1934 …The First Traditional Christmas Special Debuts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gDeZ4vuBCc
From 1934 till 1953, Lionel Barrymore played the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge on the annual holiday broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” on CBS Radio. When what became a tradition started, it was a huge event as this was the movie star’s first ever radio performance. It’s popularity grew to imminence proportions over the years.

At this link is a woderfully detailed page on the Barrymore/Scrooge tradition that lasted 19 years, and even after, as many local stations played recordings of these shows…even to this day! http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-A-Christmas-Carol.html

In a very real sense, this was America’s first traditional Christmas media special. It was performed live Christmas Eve on coast to coast radio with Barrymore at CBS in Los Angeles. At the top is a link to the 1939 version directed by Orson Wells. The newspaper article is from 1934.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! -Bobby Ellerbee



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