Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Meet Earl…The ‘Match Game’ Answer Board Operator


Meet Earl…The ‘Match Game’ Answer Board Operator

This is part of the reason Gene Rayburn and ‘The Match Game’ were such a perfect match, and hit! More clips from the show to come today! Stay tuned, enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Up_ONDV22E

Gene Rayburn provides the audience with a rare glimpse of Earl.

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Classic Letterman! Entering 6A From Backstage…February 1982


Classic Letterman! Entering 6A From Backstage…February 1982

This great clip is from the second week of the show and is a beautifully shot hand held entrance from Dave’s point of view. For long time fans and NBC vets, there will be many familiar faces here! Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_-EUjOEFr8

An interesting opening from “Late Night With David Letterman”, from the host’s perspective. Aired February 15, 1982 – the 9th show of the series.

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A Special 4 Star Whammy…Carson And Three Top Cartoon Voices


A Special 4 Star Whammy…Carson And Three Top Cartoon Voices

First off, the lead segment of this 1955 kinescope of ‘The Johnny Carson Show’ on CBS is some of the best quality I’ve ever seen. The last part with Johnny as a reporter is more typical of kine quality, or lack there off.

Johnny’s wife is played by the great June Foray who as we all know by now was most famous for her roles as Rocky and Natasha on ‘The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle’.

In the clip’s Bonus Footage section, we get to see Sara Berner as the older lady in the French sketch. Among other things, she was the voice of Andy Panda, Chilly Willie and Jerry The Mouse who was Fred Astaire’s animated dancing partner in ‘Anchors Aweigh’. Like June Foray, she did hundreds of other voices in MGM and Warner Brothers cartoons.

John Stephenson plays a news man here, and is probably best known as Fred Flintstone’s boss…Mr. Slate. He also did a lot of voices on ‘Scooby Doo’ and ‘Johnny Quest’. Stevenson also shared the narration duties on ‘Dragnet’ with George Fenneman. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDd1TU-Paa0

June Foray making a rare on-screen appearance on the Johnny Carson show on CBS some time around September 1955 and sounding very much like Rocky the Flying S…

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Ultra Rare! ‘Rocky & Bullwinkle’….Recording Session Tape


Ultra Rare! ‘Rocky & Bullwinkle’….Recording Session Tape

In all of broadcast history, there has never been a show quite like this…not before or or after. What we have here is a one of a kind trip behind the scenes into this one of a kind show.

For the next 16 minutes, we’ll be in the record booth with William Conrad as the narrator, Paul Frees as an unnamed character from Frostbite Falls, June Foray as Rocky and Bill Scott as Bullwinkle.

The year is 1963 and this is a tape of one of about a dozen segments of a running skit called “The Weather Lady”. At about 1:50 at this link, you can see one of the Weather Lady segments and there is another segment at the end. http://sharetv.com/watch/326824

As a cartoon voice artist, I can tell you this is typically how these sessions go. Everyone is sharp and crisp at first, then, by the middle of this things get loose and giddy. The cussing and real fun comes in the last couple of minutes. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

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

Here’s something I hope you’ll really like!…Outtakes from a recording session for the 1963 “Rocky & Bullwinkle” episode “The Weather Lady”. You’ll hear Wil…

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‘Late Night With David Letterman’…NBC Debut, February 1, 1982


‘Late Night With David Letterman’…NBC Debut, February 1, 1982

In honor of yesterday’s 21st Anniversary of the show’s move to CBS, here is more of Dave’s history…this is how it all started. The embedded clip is the first of three parts that are available online and is the show’s “grand opening”. In part two we get a Letterman style tour of NBC Studio 6A.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uebc1Mtq2c Part 2

In part three, Dave’s trapped producer tries to get from one side of the stage to the other by crawling on the floor and the show’s first ever guest, Bill Murray makes his entrance. Enjoy and share! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR4ltdzKfmY Part 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNplNAjlEz8 Part 1

Monologue

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Meet The Voices Of Rocky And Bullwinkle…June Foray and Bill Scott


Meet The Voices Of Rocky And Bullwinkle…June Foray and Bill Scott

All you have to do is watch and the magic will unfold so I don’t need to say more, except this….tomorrow, I’ll have more from them and the whole cast! It’s a rare recording that fans will love! Enjoy and share!

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

This is a classic view of Bill Scott and June Foray. Bill sadly is no longer with us but June still is! This has local Boston content June has roots in Bosto…

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Who Knew? The Untold Story Of The ‘John And Marsha’ Commercial


Who Knew? The Untold Story Of The ‘John And Marsha’ Commercial

Some of us remember this Snowdrift Shortening commercial from our childhood, others may remember it from seeing it used in ‘Mad Men’, but I’ll bet NONE of us knew THIS!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkfwmB8jeSU
Click this link and you will be very surprised! Go ahead…do in now.

Surprised? Me too! I had no idea the the award winning commercial from 1956 was based on Stan Freberg’s 1951 novelty hit, but it turns out, this is the very first recording Freberg did for Capitol Records. The February 10, 1951 release, “John and Marsha” was a soap opera parody that consisted of the title characters (both played by Freberg) doing nothing but repeating each other’s names with intonations to match the moods. It never was a big hit, but did get a lot radio airplay and obviously left a lasting impression.

Producer/Director John Hubley and Animator/Artist Art Babbitt were given the New York Art Directors Award for Best Animated Short for the spot in June of 1956. I still remember all of the words…you too? Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-cy6276XY0

Another gem from the Babbitt/Hubley showreel from the late 1950s…

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The First Live Videotape Delay System…

The First Live Videotape Delay System…

When videotape was introduced in 1956, the phrase “time shift” entered the broadcasters lexicon. The original meaning of “time shift” was more of a production management term in that now, a week of game shows and the like could be taped in a day or so and even over weekends instead of having to be set up and done live daily.

Somewhere along the line, the need for a live time shift came into play and this is how it was done. The only way to add a delay into a live program, until the late 70s, was to record on one machine (left) and playing back the signal on another machine (right). The RCA TRT-1 and TRT-2 machines were perfect for this because they were rackmounted.

If the flat decked Ampex VR1000s were next to each other, you could do it there too, but when tape decks began to be mounted at an angle, you couldn’t do this anymore because the tape path tension could not be maintained. That is why NBC, try as they may, could not add a 6 second delay to SNL when Richard Pryor hosted in 1975. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

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Ultra Rare…David Brinkley’s Washington Studio Set

Ultra Rare…David Brinkley’s Washington Studio Location

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7Balh1WoU
At the link is a little of what we saw on screen. Occasionally we would see the top of the desk in the early years, but mostly it was just upper body shots. This is the only photo I have ever seen of either Huntley’s or Brinkley’s desk sets in the studio.

As the “other half” of ‘The Huntley Brinkley Report’, David Brinkley was stationed in Washington at NBC’s WRC TV studios. This is his set with one Vizmo screen in view, and I think there was another one behind him. November 15, 1965, the show went color and was the first news show to do so.

The Huntley-Brinkley Report debuted October 29, 1956, with Huntley in New York and Brinkley in Washington. Producer Reuven Frank, who had advocated pairing Huntley and Brinkley for the convention coverage, thought using two anchors on a regular news program “was one of the dumber ideas I had ever heard.” Nonetheless, on the day of the new program’s first broadcast, Frank authored the program’s closing line, “Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.”

This exchange became one of television’s most famous catch phrases even though both Huntley and Brinkley initially disliked it. Huntley handled the bulk of the news most nights, with Brinkley specializing in Washington-area news from the White House, U.S. Congress and the Pentagon. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

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‘Devil’s Canyon’…The First 3D Western In Movie History

‘Devil’s Canyon’…The First 3D Western In Movie History

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNSV6jcbRvY
At the link you can see the trailer for this movie released in 1953. In the photo, we see two Technicolor cameras in a custom housing. They are facing each other to share a single lens and optical system. It would be interesting to see this thing on a dolly…I don’t know if a tripod could handle this kind of weight and bulk.

Originally a 3D production out of RKO, boasting Natural Vision 3 – Dimension, ‘Devil’s Canyon’ can now only be viewed in Technicolor flat mode. The film starred newcomer Dale Robertson and Virginia Mayo. It was produced by Howard Hughes, but even with that name and the 3D effect, it was a bomb at the box office. Enjoy and share!

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ABC’s Legendary ‘General Hospital’…The Production History

ABC’s Legendary ‘General Hospital’…The Production History

There is more detail on these rare photos from our friend Brett Henry, so please click on them individually, as I don’t want that to get lost in this article from 1989. This is a detailed look back at the whens and wheres ‘General Hospital’ was done over the years and focuses on the newly rebuilt Studio TV 54 at the Prospect Lot. Enjoy and share!

For a show that spends approximately 50 weeks a year taping, the cast and crew of ABC’s daytime drama ‘General Hospital’ received the ultimate gift in 1989: a brand new sound stage.

After 26 years of toiling at three different locations around Los Angeles, General Hospital’s cast and crew returned to the ABC Television Center (a.k.a.the Lot) as the newest residents of Studio 54 on December 15, 1989.

General Hospital was taped at Studio A/54 when it premiered on the ABC Television Network in April 1963. “Back then it was a simple 30-minute, three-camera show, with a small cast and very limited space.” recalls Jack Neitlich, vice president and general manager, Broadcast Operations and Engineering, who joined the company that year. “Since then the show has grown tremendously. The cast has, on occasion, numbered as many as 100 actors and actresses. We needed a place that could accommodate the growth of the show.”

The process of moving General Hospital back to the Lot actually began three years earlier. Roger Lund, vice president, Administration, West Coast, picks up the story: “In 1986, as part of a company-wide program of facilities consolidation, the decision was made to sell Sunset-Gower and relocate General Hospital. Coupled with an earlier decision to sell the 1313 N. Vine Street building, we were faced with the added pressure of having to relocate and house the entire On-Air Promotion Department.

Many ideas were discussed and rejected, including the possibility of consolidating two studios into one. But that would have meant a decrease in the number of facilities available for other shows. The final solution proved the most cost efficient, and Lund credits William J. Murphy, manager of construction with the ultimate solution.

Noting that the control rooms were actually detached from the studio, and had been completely renovated for the 1984 Summer Olympics, Murphy suggested that perhaps the best route to take would be the demolition of the old Studio 54 and its replacement with a new structure. This meant that a new control room wouldn’t be necessary even if the sound stage was built anew. Looking out on the structure, Murphy believes the company made the right choice. “Part of our job is to live with what we have, in addition to what we design and build her., says Murphy. “It’s a beautifully-constructed building, and I’m proud to have a part of the process.”

Employees of the Lot watched the five story, 76,000 square foot edifice go up beam by beam, block by block. It took just 18 months to complete and by December the facility was ready for its new occupants. Studio 54 sits on more than half an acre, and the actual stage portion is a massive 200 by 100-foot room that is 46 feet high to the grid, allowing plenty of room for lights and other equipment. It is actually 76 feet to the top of the studio portion.

While most situation comedies are taped on 10,000 square feet of stage, General Hospital now has a stage double that size. The lower level boasts 40 dressing rooms, a tutorial classroom, state-of-the-art makeup and wardroom rooms and offices for the On-Air Promotion producers. The upper level houses the GH production offices, as well as administrative offices for most of the On-Air Promotion staff.

More unique is the fact that the fifth floor floats on 467 specifically-placed rubber shock absorbers, making the floor independent of the building and thus eliminating the noise level down on the stage. No one was more pleased with this feature than Executive Producer Wes Kenney who had a voice in the design of the facility. “It’s a compliment to the longevity, success and popularity of General Hospital that we were consulted in the planning of this magnificent building,” he says. “While the Gower Studio suited our needs, our intention was not only to duplicate what we had at Gower, but also to improve on it.”

In addition to the technical crew, the cast is also looking forward to settling in at the Lot. But none are more nostalgic about the return than Rachel Ames and John Beradino, both of whom have been with the show since its debut.

Ames, who plays “Audrey Handy,” smiles warmly when remembering the early days of the daytime drama. “I joined General Hospital when it was 10-months-old. There was only one dressing room for the men and one for the women. We were a small family and it worked extremely well — we wore our own clothes, did our own hair!” She also recalls how they improvised when something was missing: “There were no windows in the rehearsal room or the dressing rooms, so Roy Thinnes painted large windows on the wall for us; it’s so grand having a real window in my dressing room!”

John Beradino (“Steve Hardy”) also has fond memories of his days on the Lot and says, “It’s great getting back to where my roots are. I don’t think we ever had the friends at Gower that we had at the Lot. It’s good to be home!”

“It was tough in the beginning,” says Beradino. “We were just a half-hour show and I’d get real frustrated by the lack of time to do things right.” Beradino developed a reputation for venting his frustration on his dressing room door. “They were made of plywood, so they always broke,” he recalls with a laugh. “I did it so many times they finally smartened up and put in a real oak door. I didn’t notice that, and broke two fingers once when I punched the damn thing!”

The final show at the Sunset-Gower studio was done on December 16, and the move began as soon as the curtain rang down on that taping. Moving a show as large as General Hospital is not an easy task — just ask Manager of Plant Services Gerry Routt — this was the third time he’s handled the giant chore. “We moved from Studio 51 here at the Lot to the Cahuenga Studios in October 1977, then to Sunset-Gower in November of 1978 and now back here to the Lot.” says Routt.

Though millions of fans won’t be able to detect a difference, it’s change will shine through the contented looks of cast and crew. “It ain’t easy folks, doing an hour-long show, five days a week., 12 to 15 hours a day,” adds Balme, “but working in this place will sure help.”



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Remember This? Carson Crashes Rickles…


Remember This?

This was the night Johnny went from his set in Studio 1, across the hall to Studio 3 where Don Rickles was taping. The cameras are RCA TK44Bs. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj2S2n64DeQ

Johnny Carson tracks down Don Rickles on the set of “C.P.O. Sharkey” to see if Don broke Johnny’s cigarette box on “The Tonight Show” in 1976. MORE JOHNNY CA…

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SNL Backstage: St. Vincent Set Time-Lapse | NBC

NBC’s Studio 8H…New Time Lapse Video

Before I get to the video, I wanted to clear up a little news from yesterday on 8H. As you can see here, the floor’s paint job gets a workout and every year or so they repaint it…that’s what they are doing now. I said yesterday they were “redoing” the floor, and with the recent total floor replacements in 8G and 6B, some thought they were doing the same here.

Also, the home base set is intact, but the musical guest bandstand area is getting a makeover. Part of the existing set is gone, but the homebase/bandstand part is still there. My guess is that the remodeling of this stage is to be able to accommodate even more lighting effects, big screens and electronics into it.

With the guest band stage top of mind, here’s a look at how it is transformed week after week to accommodate each new act. This is the setup for the St. Vincent appearance on May 18th of this year. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/backstage/video/1727491

SNL Backstage: St. Vincent Set Time-Lapse | NBC

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Life After ‘Letterman’: Paul Shaffer on Show’s Final Music and What’s Next

Life After Letterman…What’s Next For Paul Shaffer?

Dave and Paul have been together since day one, and although there is no earth shaking news here, there are some hints that after that party ends there will me more to come from both of them.

Life After ‘Letterman’: Paul Shaffer on Show’s Final Music and What’s Next

Paul Shaffer tells us about his post-Letterman plan and says the ‘Late Show’ host won’t “stay home with his feet up” after leaving.

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First Radio Commercial Hit Airwaves 90 Years Ago

August 28, 1922…The First Radio Commercial Airs On WEAF

Would you believe that AT&T invented radio advertising? It’s true, and their first and only involvement with broadcast radio left a lasting legacy.

It’s only fitting that the story be told here by radio, and this five minute NPR piece tells it in detail using what radio is most famous for…theater of the mind. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160265990/first-radio-commercial-hit-airwaves-90-years-ago

First Radio Commercial Hit Airwaves 90 Years Ago

Reporter John McDonough reports how AT&T ran the first-ever radio commercial on its station WEAF in New York 90 years ago this week. It changed the way broadcast was economically structured.

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The Birth Of Video Assisted Movie Making…Jerry’s Noisy Toy


The Birth Of Video Assisted Movie Making…Jerry’s Noisy Toy

This video clip is cued to start at our first look at Jerry Lewis with his custom built video assist equipment…a long rack called Jerry’s Noisy Toy.

This is from a 4 minute film featurette for 1966 movie audiences, but Lewis had been using this, or a similar configuration of these elements, since around 1960. As a director, producer and talent, he needed a way to be in three places at once and this was his solution.

With a small RCA camera mounted on the movie camera (seen in first minute of the video), he could see how a shot was framed in the monitor. With video and audio tape, he could instantly play back scenes and not have to wait for the film to be developed to see if he got his shots.

Lewis was the first director-actor to make use of a “closed circuit television preview system” (now commonly referred to as video assist) with his 1960 film “The Bellboy.”

http://youtu.be/eGyntfAGkME?t=2m52sJerry Lewis Janet Leigh 1966 behind the scenes featurette “Man in Motion”

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The Final Days Of ‘Tonight’ With Johnny Carson…


The Final Days Of ‘Tonight’ With Johnny Carson…

This clip ran in Johnny’s last week on the air. I have seen a version of this from the show and in his intro, he said what we all know to be true…that he allowed very little coverage of the backstage elements of the show, which makes this one of those rare times. The studio is Burbank’s Studio 1.

I think this ran on May 19th, just four days before the last broadcast on May 22, 1992. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDB_mE5uN7k

Now THIS is what it means to be in show business!

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A Tribute To ‘Captain Kangaroo’ You’ll Want To Read, HEAR

A Tribute To ‘Captain Kangaroo’ You’ll Want To Read, HEAR And Share!

Today is the first time I ever knew the name of this show’s famous theme song, much less, heard the full 2:43 version of “Puffin Billy”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtGUaScpSbg
At this link is the original full version. The ‘Captain Kangaroo’ theme we heard on television was an edited version that repeated the first two verses over and over, but never allowed us to hear the bridge and nice half step up into the final verses that come around 1:08.

“Puffin Billy” was an instrumental, written by Edward G. White in 1934. The track was from a British stock music production library known as the Chappell Recorded Music Library which was sold through a New York agency called Emil Ascher. The tune’s original title referred to a British steam locomotive which is now on display in Melbourne, Australia.

You’ll never guess who the man in the photo is…even if I told you his name…Cosmo Allegretti. He was on the show every day, but we never saw him. Cosmo was the puppet master of the show! He did Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear and more.

By the way, I just read yesterday that before videotape came along, Bob Keeshan and company did this two hour show live twice in a row, six days a week with only a :40 second break between the live east coast broadcast and the live west coast broadcast. There was no time for a Kinescope and they did this for three years from 1955 till 1958. Amazing! Enjoy and SHARE THIS! – Bobby Ellerbee

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A Two Minute Tour Of ABC’s New ‘General Hospital’ Stage…1989


A Two Minute Tour Of ABC’s New ‘General Hospital’ Stage…1989

I hope the ABC vets will chime in here, but I think the old TV 54 studio was torn down so they could build this new TV 54 studio. I think 54 was always the largest studio on the Prospect lot in Hollywood and had been the home of many of ABC’s biggest productions including ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ and ‘American Bandstand’, just to name a few.

This clip from ‘AM LA’ is set to play at the start of the tour. All the rest is interviews with the GH cast. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/eKXkNhhcang?t=1m14s In early 1989, “General Hospital” opened its new studio on “AM LA.” The cast members interviewed were John Beradino (Steve), Rachel Ames (Audrey), Jackie Zem…

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August 26, 1939…Major League Baseball Comes To Television

August 26, 1939…Major League Baseball Comes To Television

75 years ago today, the first professional baseball game was televised over NBC’s W2XBS in New York City. The game was between the Cincinnati Red and the Brooklyn Dodgers…the announcer was Red Barber.

Here’s an interesting side note. Realizing the significance of the broadcast, Barber asked NBC to memorialize the event with some sort of memento. A week later, NBC sent Barber a beautiful silver cigarette case with the date and event inscribed on the front. They also sent him the bill for $22.19.

In the photos, we see Barber doing the first ever pre game interview with Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. There were two cameras there. the one you see here on the third base side and one in the press box on the first base side. Barber called the game from the stands sitting by the this camera so he could get instructions from the truck via the cameraman.

Earlier In 1939, RCA designed and built the first mobile television production units ever. There were two telemobile trucks…one contained standard rack-mounted equipment for two cameras and the other housed a 159 megacycle, 300W transmitter with a hinged antenna mast on top of the unit.

Each unit was about the size and shape of a 25-passenger bus and weighed 10 tons. The total power required to operate both units was approximately 20KW. The signal was sent to the transmitter in the Empire State Building.

It must have been a challenge for the sports camera operator to frame a shot. RCA had three Iconoscope camera models…one for studio use and two for the field. The field cameras didn’t have viewfinders. The camera we see here looks like it may have a small eyepiece that would have probably been a metal tube from the front to the back of the unit. The other field model (with a rounded back) had a foldout wire frame viewfinder on the left side of the camera, similar to still photography cameras of the time.

Intercom equipment was new as well. The mic was a contraption that had a small curved horn for a mouthpiece and was worn on the chest which was borrowed from the telephone company. The headsets were borrowed from radio and it really was appropriate to call them “cans” because the round metal earpieces didn’t begin to approach the quality of today’s headsets. By the way, the Reds won that day.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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Apollo Missions Television…The On Board Camera Systems

Apollo Missions Television…The On Board Camera Systems

This is a remarkable 45 page article packed with photos many of us have never seen. This is the most in depth report on all of the television apparatus used on the Apollo Moon missions that you will find anywhere. I was fortunate to stumble across this while researching the RCA Astro Electronics camera.

Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/ApolloTV-Acrobat5.pdf

www.hq.nasa.gov

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Correction…Apologies to RCA! This WAS Their Camera…Sort Of

Correction…Apologies to RCA! This WAS Their Camera…Sort Of

Although not a product of the RCA Broadcast Electronics Division, this portable color mini camera, as it turns out, was developed by RCA’s Astro Electronics Division.

The Astro Electronics Division of RCA was formed in 1958 and was responsible for building SCORE…the world’s first communications satellite, five years before Telstar. Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was launched on December 18, 1958, and placed the United States at an even technological par with the Soviet Union as a highly functional response to the Sputnik satellites.

It captured world attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via shortwave radio from President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibVj97TIjtk
At the link above you can hear the message on a WBAI Radio newscast. The first transmitted message from space to Earth was:
“This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one… through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”

This camera was developed in 1967 for use on the moon missions. It used three 25 mm vidicon tubes, the same electrostatic types used in the RCA TK-27 film chain cameras to reduce power consumption.

This caption, and the text blocks below are from a 1967
“RCA Engineer” magazine article. The photo caption reads: “An engineer at the RCA Astro-Electronics Division, Princeton N.J., exits from a space simulation chamber carrying the smallest compatible color television camera ever developed. Designed by RCA for use in space exploration and related aerospace ground support activities.”

Thanks to our friend Jay Ballard for pointing us in the right direction.
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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August 26 – August 29, 1968…Chicago Convention Riots


August 26 – August 29, 1968…Chicago Convention Riots (3 Video Clips)

To go a bit deeper into a story I posted here earlier today on the NBC color mini cameras…here are some of the unforgettable images from that gathering 46 years ago this week. I watched this all live as a 17 year old. Where were you?

At the clip liked below, you can see Dan Rather’s manhandling as it was broadcast on CBS, but first let me comment on the embedded clip from NBC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyUCZ0t4dug

We start with John Chancellor on the floor reporting on the ejection of a delegate and at times, you can see Dan Rather on the right side of the screen trying to get to the action. At 3:30, things get more intense at uniformed police are brought in. At 4:30 we can see a CBS Norelco PCP 70 on the scene. At 5:00, Chancellor is joined by Edwin Newman and at 6:40 we can see the NBC color camera shooting them. At 7:00 we go outside the hall to the riots in the streets. All three networks were using Norelco PC 60s and 70s as stationary cameras.

By the way, this was not the first time television newsmen were in peril at the political conventions. John Chancellor was arrested in 1964 at the Republican conventions for blocking the aisle with an interview. At the 1:55 mark on this NBC tribute to him, you can see that footage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TI1RW_9G7Q

Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

Coverage from inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

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Ultra Rare! NBC’s Very First Mini Camera…1950

Ultra Rare! NBC’s Very First Mini Camera…1950

As we saw in today’s earlier post on the first NBC color mini camera, their engineers were years ahead of RCA’s, but as we are about to see…this was not the first time.

Although RCA did have a mini camera in development at the time, NBC had one too. The NBC version was the round one you see below and the RCA was the square one. I think both used Vidicon tubes. The first known use of the RCA “Walkie Looky” was at the 1952 political conventions.

NBC’s engineers also beat RCA to the punch with the first Image Orthicon turret camera…the NBC ND 8G cameras. Below you see Milton Berle staring into the lens of one. These were built in late 1945 and were the first cameras used in Studio 8G as early as May 9, 1946…several months before the first RCA TK30s arrived.

In fairness, RCA did have more developmental hoops to jump through, but in retrospect. I think there were a lot of things they could have done faster and better. Ampex ate their lunch on videotape, the TK60s and TK42s were a mess and Norelco and Ikegami were light years ahead with their color portable cameras. Even Marconi had a tiltable viewfinder on their version of the TK41. What took so long?
Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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It’s Alive! This RCA TK30 Is Making Pictures Again!

It’s Alive! This RCA TK30 Is Making Pictures Again!

I’d heard that Ralph Sargent in Los Angeles had been working on restoring a TK30 and finally we have pictures and the story from Ralph as he told it on the Videokarma site. Thanks to our friend John Bolin for sending this along. Here’s what Ralph wrote….

“As some of you may know, I have been working on a “secret” project since February. The project is now pretty much complete and it’s time to let you in on it. Project: The resuscitation and restoration of a 1946-47 image orthicon camera.

Here are the 1st pictures of TK-30A, serial #101 making TV pictures for the first time since the end of 1966! These were taken in my office today and I haven’t retouched anything. What you see is what I saw. (The slightly greenish cast is from the florescent lamps in the workspace.)

The turret has on it 2 – 135mm lenses and 1 – 90mm. The black hole is actually black masking tape so I can cap the tube in that I don’t have a legit cap. I think I’ve gotten the alignment fairly close and the results are starting to look pretty sharp.

The camera was owned by CBS-NY and had the usual Stanton-decreed, “Get those RCA insignia and so forth off my cameras and paint ’em all grey!” Fact was that when I got the cameras they were painted a sort of bilious green which I had to strip off of everything and repaint. Same was true of the CCU and PS.

The pictures are from my office windows looking across the street at a new condominium being built there.

The reason for the 8 inch modern monitor on the top of the CCU is that the CCU CRT has pretty severe linearity problems that I have yet to figure out. I’ve got to poke into this next week.

Notice the digital meter to the extreme left of the CCU in picture #5. This gives me instant numbers for the AC voltage and current. Was handy for starting this up for the first time and knowing that it wasn’t about to blowup. Helps build confidence. (Notice this gear is pulling about 8.5 Amps @ 116 vac. Less than I thought it would be!)

As far as the number of components replaced: I replaced all of the caps with the exception of a few micas. Overall this was a rather expensive project given that the .05 mfd/ 7kv caps cost about $80 each and the oil 0.5 mfd/1500v was $148.00. I’ve replaced very few resistors except the bleeder chain in the viewfinder which had gone skyward with age. Surprisingly, practically every resistor in this chain is 5% or better and have held their values remarkably well. I’ve ditched a great number of the electrolytic cans as part of the recap to try to improve the airflow throughout the camera. Also, all of the HV wire in the camera had to be replaced because the insulation had rotted. I used the super flexible Alpha wire that John Folsom uses on his CT-100 vertical transformers, but had to buy 100 foot spool at $2.00 a foot!”



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ABC’s Sacrificial Lambs…GE PC 7 Made Into First ABC Mini Cam

ABC’s Sacrificial Lambs…GE PC 7 Made Into First ABC Mini Cam

I was digging through some old photos this morning and came across this and it reminded me to set the record straight on ABC’s first homemade mini cameras that we see in use here on ‘Wide World Of Sports’

A while back I had mentioned that they were made from RCA TK30s, but I had forgotten about this picture from ABC veteran cameraman Don ‘Peaches’ Langford. ABC New York had sent a couple of GE PC 7s to LA, but they had no use for them. The man with the big PC7s is Jim Angel and I’m not sure, but it may have been Angel that built the ABC mini cams using parts from these two GE PC7s.

By the way, Don is the one with the bald wig goofing with the mini cam and doing his impersonation of the cameras regular operator who was “follicly challenged”. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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The NBC Portable Cameras…

The NBC Mini Cameras…

Earlier in the week, I posted a video that showed rare footage of ABC’s and CBS’s first self designed, black and white portable cameras.

Here are a couple of NBC’s self designed cameras. The photo in front of the Democratic Convention sign is from 1964 and shows a small camera head with the operator wearing the viewfinder and backpack. That same arrangement carried over into another configuration with a larger, triangular shaped camera.

I don’t know which of these came first as there are no dates on the use of the triangular version, but I think they may have been in use at the same time. Does anyone know?

By the way, the cameraman in two of these shots is Don Mulvaney and the picture with the Iowa placard in the background show Don with RCA’s first portable in 1952. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee



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An Important First And Last Event…

An Important FIrst And Last Event…

Below is a photo of the first television drama to be done in color…it is also the last experimental colorcast.

“To Live In Peace” was the episode title of the December 16, 1953 production of ‘The Kraft Television Theater’ and starred Anne Bancroft. It was done in color from NBC’s Colonial Theater…the night before the FCC announced the approval of the RCA pioneered version of compatible color.

At 5:31 PM, December 17, NBC was the first to broadcast a compatible color signal which was a still shot of the NBC Chimes logo using NTSC standards.

The camera here is one of the original “first four” RCA TK40s. They were hand built and delivered to The Colonial in late October of 1952. Assembly line production did not start till a year later after the the cameras were tested. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

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Television’s First Zoom Lens…

Television’s First Zoom Lens…

This is the Walker Electra Zoom lens and is believed to be one of the first Joseph Walker made by hand in the late 1940s. Walker worked as a cinematographer with Frank Capra on over twenty films and held almost as many patents on optical and film related inventions.

Over a span of some 40 years, he designed and made special lenses to be used specifically on over 50 of Hollywood’s leading ladies. He had dabbled with this zoom technology in the late 1920s but set it aside until electric motor technology began to catch up.

He sold his invention to RCA and Zeiss around 1949 and RCA kept the name Electra Zoom when they brought it to television. Due to the dominance of Frank Back’s Zoomar lens, Walker’s role in the history of the television zoom lens has been rather overlooked – but there’s little doubt that the Electra Zoom was a significant production tool during the early days of postwar television.

Thanks to Steve Raymer at The Pavek Museum in St Louis Park, MN for sharing the photos of this lens which is on display there at his museum. The lens worked electronically and had a push/pull rod as well for manual operation, much like the Zoomar. You can see that rod in the Hugh Downs photo. Enjoy and share! – Bobby Ellerbee

By the way, the RCA catalog listing is in the Comments section below.



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On Closer Examination…Something We All Missed Is Here!

On Closer Examination…Something We All Missed Is Here!

Last month, some collector friends and I were trying to put a date on the introduction of the Houston Fearless TD 3 pedestal. We all thought 1954 was probably the year the new lead counterweight pedestal debuted, but low and behold…look at this!

Just this morning, I was looking for photos of the RCA Electra Zoom lens for the next article I’m posting today, but look what I found. At least one TD 3 is in use here on the debut of ‘Today’ on January 14, 1952!

I think this is the prototype in a field test and where better to put it through it’s paces than this new morning show. Notice a silver band just under the lock ring…that’s where the access doors join to the column cover. That was never there on the production models.

We can see the TD 3 in two of these photos and in the third one, we see what the other cameras were mounted on…the old TD 1 crank up model. While you click through these, take a close look at the zoom lens and I’ll have more on that next, and look at that teleprompter. I think that may have been an RCA prototype too. I’ve never seen that anywhere else but here on ‘Today’, have you?



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