Posts in Category: Broadcast History

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/eyesofageneration/videos/1185826961454851/

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

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

“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

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!

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

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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December 24, 1948…Perry Como & NBC Studio 6A Debut Together


December 24, 1948…Perry Como & NBC Studio 6A Debut Together

Como had been the Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening host of “The Chesterfield Supper Club” on NBC Radio since December of 1945.

On Christmas Eve of 1948, the radio show was simulcast from NBC Studio 6A where his radio show had always come from, BUT…this was the first time cameras had been brought into 6A! At the link is the open and close of this show with Perry welcoming the television audience at the top, and vamping to close the show on time at the end. (The CBS ID at the end is a part of the clip that followed this on a long string of kine clips.)

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

At the time, 6A was still a radio studio and wasn’t converted to television till May 29, 1950. The show was produced with 3 “remote unit” cameras which moved from studio to studio inside 30 Rock.

The mobile unit had rolling Camera Control Units which were set up in the 6A sound lock leading to the main hallway. The camera feeds were cabled over to the new Studio 6B control room which was converted from radio to TV on June 8, 1948.

These internal mobile units also brought with them a dozen or so scoop lights which were mounted on floor stands, so as you watch this second video clip, you’ll notice a lot of flat lighting and shadows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFkKuDZHdI

This clip, also done in 6A, is from eleven months later…November 20, 1949 and gives you an idea of how the show looked. This Christmas Eve broadcast marked the beginning of Como’s tradition of holiday specials that continued on CBS. Perry returned to NBC September 22, 1956 and debuted his new color show from The Zeigfeld Theater which NBC had just taken over.

By the way, Studio 6A was converted to TV in May of 1950. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays -Bobby Ellerbee

12/24/1948 16mm kinescope of a live TV commercial, from the very first televised episode of the popular radio show, The Chesterfield Supperclub, starring Per…

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December 24,1951…Behind The Scenes Inside NBC Studio 8H

December 24,1951…Behind The Scenes Inside NBC Studio 8H

1st “Hallmark Hall Of Fame”…1st “Amahl And The Night Visitors”

This story has two parts. Below the line is an interesting first hand account from a TV magazine writer who was there, pointing out the obstacles they needed to overcome to present the debut of what would become two enduring programs.

The above the line story starts here with some notes on the historic aspects of what was about to happen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzx-s46vjpY
At 9:30 PM on December 24, 1951, in NBC Studio 8-H, the first opera ever written expressly for television went live on the air. The sponsor for the NBC holiday spectacular was Hallmark Cards. This was their first venture into television and this lead to the development of the now famous “Hallmark Hall Of Fame” series.

At the link above is the kinescope recording of the original 1951 production. The show was done live each year for many years till video tape came along. In 1954 it was done in color at NBC Brooklyn, and in ’63, finally recorded on color video tape at the Brooklyn facility. In the photo below, we see one of the four cameras used on the show in 8H shooting the child lead, Chet Allen. The cameraman is NBC’s first studio cameraman, Albert Protzman who was hired in 1936.

Below is a description of that night in 8H from TV Party Magazine by Mitchel Hadley. The full article is at this link. -Bobby Ellerbee http://www.tvparty.com/xmas-amahl.html

_____________________________________________________
Christmas Eve in Studio 8H

The scene was a dramatic one – and, par for the course for early television, far from ideal. For one thing, although 8-H was the largest television studio in America, it wasn’t nearly large enough for the cast, crew, and musicians. The result, among other things, was that singers and orchestra would have no direct contact with each other. The orchestra was located in Studio 8G…the conductor could see the action on the set via the monitors while the singers would hear the music piped in through speakers in the studio.

Up in the control room would be Director Kurt Browning. At his disposal were four cameras – three inside the “hut” where Amahl and his mother lived, and one outside – and three boom microphones, one between each camera. His “control” was far from absolute, however; union rules of the era prevented the director from speaking directly to the cameramen, requiring him to go through the technical director to communicate his instructions. Such an arrangement was a recipe for disaster, especially for a live broadcast. Menotti was no stranger to the challenges of television, though, and he and Browning worked closely on the camera script, ensuring that there would be no spare gesture, no extraneous movement that would throw an actor out of frame.

The cumbersome equipment of the time would also prove to be a challenge, as Browning recalled in a 1994 interview. “As I remember, I had pedestal cameras which weighed four to five hundred pounds and a dolly camera that weighed another seven to eight hundred pounds. Movement was limited, however, for “once you got over a 90mm lens, you couldn’t move the camera because the movement registered on the camera and you would lose focus almost immediately.”

On the set itself the cast, after a month of preparation and anticipation (but only four actual days in the studio), was ready.

When the camera light winked on at 9:30, viewers saw a blurred image of church bells, followed by a title card announcing that the following program was presented by Hallmark. It is often stated that the actress Sarah Churchill hosted that first broadcast, since she subsequently served as host of Hall of Fame for the first couple of years, but in fact it was Nelson Case, host of NBC’s Armstrong Circle Theater, who greeted the audience. (Amahl was, in fact, being presented in Armstrong’s regular Tuesday night time slot.) After a solemn, if overlong, introduction, Case presented Menotti, who stood on a set in front of a fake fireplace decorated with garland, the Bosch painting hanging over the mantle.

Speaking from notes and in Italian-accented English, Menotti said he hoped that parents had allowed their children to stay up late for the broadcast, since the opera had been written for them and “I don’t want you to be like those awful parents who insist on playing with their children’s toys.” He then introduced the people who had helped make Amahl possible, asking them to join him on camera since the audience “won’t see [them] while the opera goes on”: Browning, who “photographed this opera the way I saw it in the windows of my imagination,” Schippers, who “captured the sounds of my childhood,” and set designer Eugene Berman, “who designed the sets that come straight out of my own heart.”

As a series of handwritten slides (taking a moment to come into focus) introduced the cast and crew, the overture began in the background – a tender, moving melody that soon gave way to the sound of a pipe. The camera dissolved to a star high in the sky, and then slowly panned down to a young boy playing the pipe. Amahl and the Night Visitors had begun.

Here it is worth noting that the broadcast features a fascinating attempt at a primitive “special effect.” Menotti wanted the approach of the Kings to suggest a journey of a great distance. The entrance of the Kings began, therefore, with only their voices being heard. While Amahl and his mother lie sleeping, the camera zoomed in on a close up of Rosemary Kuhlmann. Then, using her back as a movie screen, a pre recorded film of the Kings’ entry was projected.

Browning then cut to a shot of Kuhlmann from a different angle, while the lyrics “the shepherd dreams inside the fold” were sung – suggesting, subtly, that the Kings might be nothing more than a dream. It was a complex effect, sophisticated for the time, especially for live television. It’s not known how many times this effect was used in subsequent broadcasts of Amahl; by 1955 it had been replaced by a simple cut from the inside of the hut to the outdoor set.

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Best Choreography In Live Television…”SNL” Stage Hands & Crew


Best Choreography In Live Television…”SNL” Stage Hands & Crew

Quick take down of the cold open set with countdown from the control room…will they make it? Click to see! I’ve seen this in person from the floor seats and it is amazing. Nothing like it anywhere. NBC Studio 8H…home of the PROS! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04kop3CvE_s

A behind-the-scenes look at the unseen two-minute set change that went down during the opening credits to transform SNL’s set from the cold open to Casey Aff…

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December 23, 1947…The Transistor Is Born At Bell Labs, BUT…

December 23, 1947…The Transistor Is Born At Bell Labs, BUT…

Why did it take so long to come to television? In this story, I’ll answer that with a surprising bit of information I found just this week, and also give credit where credit is due.

In the top part, I’ll talk about the RCA attitude toward the transistor, and below the line, give you the full story on how it was invented.

By coincidence, I was reading a paper called “The Eye Of The Peacock” by Richard C. Webb, the developer of the first RCA color camera system. I’ve included a photo of Mr. Webb with his own creation.

Here is what he said; “The timely invention of the transistor at Bell Labs in 1947 was really the big bang for the exploding solid state electronics age. At the time however, many of the working engineers were unable to appreciate their advantages, and many vacuum tube engineers, myself included, put signs on their doors saying ‘help stamp out transistors’.”

“Loaded with pressing demands for ever more complex equipment, the old timers were quite reluctant to immediately embrace the temperature sensitive and expensive ‘little pills’ that gave no warning at all of impending failure.”

“Under stress, a vacuum tube was always graceful enough to glow red and blue and allow time for a quick power-down to save it from destruction. Until their original construction in the very temperature sensitive Germanium switched over to Silicon in the early ’60s, they were just an attractive nuisance to most of us.”

John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley invented the transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey. In 1948, they won the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Here they are in their with the first transistor and a replica of it. -Bobby Ellerbee
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An all-star team of scientists was assembled at Bell Labs to develop a replacement for the vacuum tubes based on solid-state semiconductor materials. Shockley, who had received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1936 and joined Bell Labs the same year, was selected as the team leader. He recruited several scientists for the project, including Brattain and Bardeen.

Walter Brattain had been working for Bell Labs since 1929, the year he received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota. His main research interest was on the surface properties of solids. John Bardeen was a theoretical physicist with an industrial engineering background. With a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, he was working as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota when Shockley invited him to join the group.

The team commenced work on a new means of current amplification. In 1945, Shockley designed what he hoped would be the first semiconductor amplifier, an apparatus that consisted of “a small cylinder coated thinly with silicon, mounted close to a small, metal plate”. The device didn’t work, and Shockley assigned Bardeen and Brattain to find out why.

In 1947, during the so-called “Miracle Month” of November 17 to December 23, Brattain and Bardeen performed experiments to determine what was preventing Shockley’s device from amplifying. They noticed that condensation kept forming on the silicon. Could this be the deterrent? Brattain submerged the experiment in water “inadvertently creating the largest amplification thus far.” Bardeen was emboldened by this result, and suggested they modify the experiment to include a [gold] metal point that would be pushed into the silicon surrounded by distilled water. At last there was amplification, but disappointingly, at a trivial level.

But the scientists were galvanized by the meager result, and over the next few weeks, experimented with various materials and set ups. They replaced the silicon with germanium, which resulted in amplification 330 times larger than before. But it only functioned for low frequency currents, whereas phone lines, for example, would need to handle the many complicated frequencies of the human voice.

Next, they replaced the liquid with a layer of germanium dioxide. When some of the oxide layer accidentally washed away, Brattain continued the experiment shoving the gold point into the germanium and voila! Not only could he still achieve current amplification, but he could do so at all frequencies. The gold contact had put holes in the germanium and the punctures “canceled out the effect of the electrons at the surface, the same way the water had.” Their invention was finally increasing the current at all frequencies.

Bardeen and Brattain had achieved two special results: the ability to get a large amplification at some frequencies, and a small amplification for all frequencies. Their goal now was to combine the two. The essential components of the device thus far were the germanium and two gold point contacts that were fractions of a millimeter apart. With this in mind, Brattain placed a gold ribbon around a plastic triangle, and cut it through one of the points. When the point of the triangle touched the germanium, electric current entered through one gold contact and increased as it rushed out the other. They had done it – it was the first point-contact transistor. On December 23, Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain presented their “little plastic triangle” to the Bell Labs VIPs and it became official: the super star team had invented the first working solid state amplifier.



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1951 NFL Championship Title Game

December 23, 1951…1st Coast To Coast NFL Championship Broadcast

The Dumont Network purchased the rights to televise the game from the NFL for $95,000. Although this was the 19th title game in NFL history, it was the first ever televised coast to coast as this was the first year AT&T had the capacity to do nation wide television.

Before this, the games were on nation wide radio and if any championship games were on TV, they were shown probably only as far west as AT&T television lines reached which may have been either St. Louis or Denver.

Below is the NFL Films record of the game at The Los Angeles Coliseum between the Rams and Cleveland Browns. As you’ll see, it was pretty rough and tumble with no face guards. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000096236/1951-NFL-Championship-Title-Game

1951 NFL Championship Title Game

Here’s a look back at the 1951 NFL Championship Title Game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns.

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December 22, 1931…First Empire State Broadcast & TV Test History Update

December 22, 1931…First Empire State Broadcast & TV Test History Update

On this day in 1931, NBC made it’s first experimental television broadcast from the new Empire State Building transmitter.

Since the story of RCA’s early television transmission test sites is a bit muddled, I am taking this opportunity to clarify a few things with new research.

RCA’s first experimental television transmissions are reported to have begun in 1928 on station W2XBS at an unknown location near the Van Cortlandt Park area in the Bronx. The images were produced by a GE made Alexanderson mechanical disc camera.

My research has lead to new information that no one else includes. It appears that within a few months, testing moved to 411 Fifth Avenue, a few blocks south of NBC’s 711 Fifth Avenue HQ. The two hour nightly broadcasts made from there began March 22, 1929. At this link is an article about the 411 building with the very detailed television part in the lower third of the article.
http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-unique-1915-no-411-fifth-avenue.html

In early 1930, the Alexanderson camera and transmission equipment was moved to the Roof Garden Theater on the top floor of the New Amsterdam Theater Building, transmitting 60 line pictures in the new 2-3 mHz band allocated to television.

Those locations, are where the famous 13 inch Felix the Cat figure, made of paper mache, was placed on a record player turntable and broadcast using a mechanical scanning disk to a scanning disk receiver. The image received was only 2 inches tall.

Early in 1931 RCA’s W2XBS began to transmit from the RCA/NBC headquarters at 711 5th Avenue. The image of the actor with the Alexanderson camera is thought to be at the 711 building.

The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931, and RCA leased the 85th floor for a studio and transmitter location for experimental television broadcasts. RCA, through its broadcasting division NBC, applied to the Federal Radio Commission on July 1, 1931 for construction permits for the sight and sound channels of a television station, which were issued on July 24, 1931.

The call sign W2XF was issued in December 1931 for the sight channel of that station on an assigned frequency of 44Mc. The sound channel of the TV station was separately licensed as W2XK for a 2.5Kw transmitter to operate on 61Mc. Both transmitters were located on the 85th floor and used separate vertical dipole antennas.

In early 1933, the mechanical scanning disc camera was still in use, but experiments on an electronic receiving tube were underway with the early kinescope images appearing green (like an oscilloscope) as only green phosphor was available. It would be a few years before white phosphor was discovered and used in kinescopes. More on this story soon.

In 1936, the Empire State Building’s tall tower like structure was added as a mooring mast for blimps. The winds proved to be too strong and there were several near accidents in mooring tests, but it did make for a great new antenna mount.

By the way, the last known sighting of the historic Alexanderson mechanical camera was in a display at the RCA Pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair. -Bobby Ellerbee





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December 22, 1963…The Judy Garland Christmas Special


December 22, 1963…The Judy Garland Christmas Special

Our friend George Sunga was the production supervisor on Judy’s series. This show was shot with the new Marconi Mark IV black and white cameras in Television City’s Studio 43. The video and audio is exceptional…state of the art for 1963.

Two songs which are now seasonal classics, one first sung by Judy, and the other, by guest Mel Torme, are included here (“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song”). The final song is Judy’s emortal “Rainbow”. This is first rate from start to finish! Enjoy and Happy Holidays! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzCL3FM9dDc

In this charming live holiday TV special Judy is joined by her children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joey Luft, and guest stars Jack Jones and Mel Torme. The…

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December 21, 1988…”Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special”


December 21, 1988…”Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special”

In much the same way adults were big fans of “Beanie & Cecil” in the ’50s, “Rocky & Bullwinkle” in the ’60s, and “The Muppets” in the ’70s, “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” was our fix in the ’80s. On this day in 1988, Paul Reubens and an outrageous line up of stars brought television a special Christmas show like no other!

Aside from the regular cast of stellar talent, including Phil Hartman (Capt. Carl), John Paragon (Jambi), Lynne Marie Stewart (Miss Yvonne), Laurence Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba the mail lady), this special guest stars…Whoppie Goldberg, Little Richard, Grace Jones, K.D. Lang, Frankie Avalon, Cher, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oprah Winfrey, Charo, Magic Johnson, Annette Funicello, Dinah Shore and Joan Rivers. What a Hoot!

Meka leka hi, meka hiney ho! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3U428nYrFU

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Memory Lane…Inside MTV Studios During Their First Month On Air


Memory Lane…Inside MTV Studios During Their First Month On Air

I’ve never seen much behind the scenes footage of the MTV production crew in action, but from an August 1981 “PM Magazine” episode, here is a good look. I thought you may enjoy it too. Thanks to ABC’s Howie Zeidman for making this available. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URYgIdZ3F2A&feature=youtu.be&t=46s

A PM Magazine show when MTV first went on the air.. All the VJ’s are in this clip..Also behind the scenes

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Vladimir Zworykin: The Iconoscope and the Kinescope

December 20,1938…Vladimir Zworykin Patented The Iconoscope

Although there was controversy over a lot of patents and inventions in electronic television between Philo Farnsworth and Zworykin and RCA, there is no contention over the development of the Iconoscope.

While working as an engineer at Westinghouse in 1923, Zworykin had presented his idea to the company, but they were not interested. That year he submitted his patent, but because the design was incomplete, the patent was not approved. By 1933 he had achieved a working model and with more modifications to his application in 1935, the patent was finally granted in 1938.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, Telefunken’s two cameras were using the Iconoscope, and the single Fernseh camera there was using the Image Dissector from Farnsworth.

For a more, and a broader perspective, Dan Greigo’s article is included below. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.videoeditingsage.com/vladimir-zworykin.html

Vladimir Zworykin: The Iconoscope and the Kinescope

Vladimir Zworykin may not have liked modern TV programming, but he can be proud of the remarkable system that he helped create. It truly changed the world!! Learn more about it here!

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December 19, 1958…’The Chipmunk Song’ Tops The Record Charts


December 19, 1958…’The Chipmunk Song’ Tops The Record Charts

Did you know that David Seville was the stage name for Ross Bagdasarian?

Bagdasarian was both creator and voice of The Chipmunks. The year before he had a hit with ‘The Witch Doctor’. The tape machine Bagdasarian used to record his novelties was the variable speed, Tape-O-Matic “Voice of Music” reel-to-reel recorder. The key words here are variable speed. People tried to emulate his sound, but without the variable speed function, you just couldn’t get there.

Aside from being the top selling song at Christmas of 1958, it won two Grammys, one of which was for technology. This video includes some of the 1958 footage of Seville performing the song and is mixed with some later video and audio from their animated cartoon show. Enjoy, share and sing along! I know you know the words! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whY9MKlvisI

My 3rd fan made Chipmunk video featuring clips from various Chipmunks Christmas special episodes and shows where David Seville and The Chipmunks celebrate Ch…

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December 18, 1956…’To Tell The Truth’ Debuts On CBS…Rare Pilot Episode


December 18, 1956…’To Tell The Truth’ Debuts On CBS…Rare Pilot Episode

AMAZING! Here is the pilot for the show and you won’t believe the host and panel! The host was Mike Wallace. On the panel…Dick Van Dyke, John Cameron Swayze, Polly Bergen and actress Hildy Park.

The show, which debuted 60 years ago today, was created by Bob Stewart and produced by Goodson-Todman Productions and was to have premiered on Tuesday, December 18, 1956, in CBS prime time as ‘Nothing But The Truth’, but the program title was changed to ‘To Tell The Truth’ the day before the show’s debut. The show originated from CBS Studio 52, moving to Studio 50 late in its run.

After CBS bought the show, but before it debuted, Bud Collier was chosen to host as Wallace had begun to feel he had rather become a news man and needed to get away from entertainment and commercial roles.

Mark Goodson and Bill Todman were seeking to replicate the success of their ‘What’s My Line’ show, but ‘To Tell the Truth’ was unique in that this was one of the few shows where the home audience didn’t know the answer as the panel asked questions. We at home could play right along.

An odd “vibe” must have been present on the set for some years there. Host Collyer was one of the more outspoken pro-blacklisting voices in AFTRA, the TV performers’ union. He was all for purging TV of performers and staffers with “pinko” connections…but a lot of those folks worked on TTTT. Mark Goodson was among the few producers willing to stand up to demands that he drop performers who’d been fingered as un-American by Red Channels or other such institutions. He’d resisted demands that he fire Henry Morgan off ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ and he often hired panelists like Orson Bean and John Henry Faulk.

Bean and Faulk won a union election over a Collyer-backed slate on these issues and Faulk later won a major lawsuit over his blacklisting. Still, from all reports, Collyer was a professional and a gentleman to all on ‘To Tell the Truth’.

The original TTTT ended its prime-time run on May 22, 1967. A daytime version which had started in June of ’62 continued on until September of ’68. That was the end of the Collyer version but others would follow. You must see some of this video! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji9m4acZLck

Mike Wallace in 1956, hosting Nothing But The Truth, an unaired pilot for what would become the classic guessing game To Tell The Truth. Panelists are Dick V…

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 1

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 1

Today is the eve of the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over these next 3 days, Eyes Of A Generation will tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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December 16, 1953…An Important First And Last Event

This 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”, which 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.

Several other one hour color specials had been done in the months prior, like the opera “Carmen” and Kukla, Fran & Ollie’s “St. George The Dragon”, but this was the first drama.

You may ask, if there were no color receivers for the public, what was the purpose of broadcasting in color?

The answer is in the term “compatible color”, which means that the new RCA color system broadcasts were as well received on everyone’s black and white sets, as clearly as regular black and white broadcasts.

In much the same way as monochrome television went through their experimental period, before official FCC approval, color did the same, but with more intense arguments over which system to choose. The battle was between RCA’s electronic Dot Sequential System and the CBS mechanical Field Sequential System.

Even RCA in the early days tried to get the CBS system to work, but there were too many obstacles to over come. With their own system there were many obstacles, but in the end, RCA’s will to power and engineering prowess came through.

The camera here is one of the original “first four” RCA TK40 prototypes. 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. More to come! – Bobby Ellerbee

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 2

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 2

Today is the eve of the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over these next 3 days, Eyes Of A Generation will tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! MUCH more below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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http://www.visions4.net/journal/wp-content/uploads/Sarnoff1-PDF.pdf
THE ULTIMATE PRIMER ON COLOR TELEVISION: At the link above, is a special December 1953 publication from RCA and NBC.

This “RCA Color Television” magazine is a one-of-a-kind, 37 page synopsis of how this all happened. From David Sarnoff’s introduction, to the last page of historical highlights, this is required reading for anyone serious about learning the history and how of color television.

To better understand, and prepare for the incredible detailed history coming Saturday and Sunday, this is an indispensable guide and outline!

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 3

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 1, PART 3

Today is the eve of the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over these next 3 days, Eyes Of A Generation will tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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Coming tomorrow and Sunday, THE RCA RED BOOK!

On June 25, 1953, RCA presented the FCC with a 699 page petition for the approval of their color system. Although three quarters of the book is quite technical, there are two very interesting sections on the history of the process, and on the prototype equipment used in the studios and control rooms.

The Red Book itself is an extreme rarity, as only a few survive, but it is the Holy Grail of early color history at RCA. Over the years, I have talked about the color tests at Washington’s Wardman Park, in NBC’s historic Studio 3H, and at the Colonial Theater.

I’ve also talked about the “coffin cameras” in 3H, the RCA color girls and Nanette Fabray’s daily experimental color shows from 3H and the Colonial, the RCA TK40 prototype cameras, and more…

Tomorrow and Sunday, ALL OF THAT, and more is covered in detail that we have never known before. Even Nanette’s scripts for the shows are included and now we know that Ben Grauer did the announcing. Even for me, the amount of new details is staggering.

Be Here!

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 4


SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 4

Today is the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over the weekend, Eyes Of A Generation will continue to tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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December 17, 1953…FCC Approves RCA Color, A First Hand Account

It was a Thursday afternoon when the FCC approved the RCA Dot Sequential color system as the national standard. Our friend and former NBC engineer Frank Merklein was actually the one that broke the news to David Sarnoff. Below is part of an email from Frank to me with his first hand observations.

“General Sarnoff was the force behind defeating the CBS mechanical wheel and in forming the NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) color committee of all the US manufacturers.”

“NBC had been doing daily closed circuit color test shows (the same show every day for 2 1/2 years) from 3H and the Colonial Theater. I was part of that testing and Sarnoff had made me a member of one of the committees”

“When the FCC chose the RCA system, the General was in our control room in Studio 3H. I was on the phone with the FCC…I turned to the General and gave him a prepared message. “General Sarnoff, the FCC informs you that they have unanimously approved of the NTSC system for color.” He grinned, blew smoke from those over-sized cigars he inhaled and thanked everyone! Great memory.”

Later that day, at 5:31:17, NBC became the first to broadcast in the newly approved color system with a color slide of the NBC Chimes.
At 6:30 that evening, NBC aired a special half hour color show with David Sarnoff, Pat Weaver and Jimmy Durnate.

The next day RCA had full page ads in several major newspapers, some of which can be seen in this video of the announcement that ran on Saturday night, right in the middle of NBC’s biggest show, “Your Show Of Shows”.

The pace at RCA, NBC and AT&T was fast and furious, because just 14 days after the announcement came this….

The First Rose Parade Color Cast…NBC, January 1, 1954

This was the first ever national west coast – to east coast colorcast using the newly approved National Television System Committee (NTSC) standards.

AT&T Long Lines had hurriedly configured a color capable network of 21 television stations across the United States. RCA Broadcast had rushed transmitter modification equipment to the affiliates on the Bell color network path.

RCA had also built a small pre-production run of 200 color receivers. This set was designated as the “Model 5”, the fifth in their series of experimental color sets. The Model 5 was provided to NBC affiliates and RCA Victor distributors for the Rose Parade and each location had a full house for the event.

The “Model 5” was the prototype for the first RCA production Color Receiver…the Model CT-100. Starting March 25, 1954, 5,000 CT-100’s were manufactured in RCA’s Bloomington, Indiana plant. The set was named, “The Merrill”.

Below is the story The New York Times wrote about the color cast a few days later….

“Color television’s most exacting test came with the National Broadcasting Company’s outdoor pickup of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena California. The New Years Day Program was the first prolonged presentation of color video under circumstances where, unlike a studio show, neither lighting, nor movement could be controlled. All things considered, the results were exceedingly good.

The Tournament of Roses parade had the largest audience thus far, probably several thousand persons to see color TV at one time. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company, in a amazingly speedy engineering accomplishment, put together a color network of twenty-two cities to which the Radio Corporation of America had rushed equipment. A number of other set manufacturers also held demonstrations of color receivers in different cities.

With so many sets in operation, each subject to relatively critical tuning controls and possible vagaries of electronics, the quality of the tinted images from Pasadena undoubtedly varied on some receivers. But, overall, there is no question that the essence of the parades panorama of color was projected successfully on home screens some 3000 miles away. In comparison the monochrome pictures seen on existing receivers seemed virtually meaningless.

As the two NBC color cameras scanned a succession of elaborate floats, assorted military units, and other parade features, the scene was a veritable bevy of hues and depth; at other times the close-up was better. Occasionally there were overcasts of one tint or another but these disappeared with movement of the camera.

To concentrate so much color information within the frame of a small screen would be difficult for even the most gifted artist doing a “still” painting. To do it with constantly moving pictures seemed pure wizardry. Especially interesting from a technical standpoint was the remarkable stability of the individual colors as the NBC camera moved quickly from left to right and back again. On one set at least there was no perceptible streaking.

The Tournament of Roses parade, received locally from 12:15 to 1:45 P.M., did emphasize several problems for the home viewer. In the broad daylight and sunshine, it was necessary to draw the shades and cut out all glare if the colors on the TV screen were not to be washed out. This frankly, was a nuisance.

Another difficulty related to the size of the picture. The disadvantage of a small color image – roughly 12 1/2 inches – was much more noticeable with the parade than with earlier studio programs. And, since it is necessary to sit much farther away than from a black and white set, one wonders how big a color tube will be practical. Finding a happy compromise between picture size and viewing distance could be tricky for the engineer and the viewer, particularly if the latter must start rearranging furniture again.” -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojJCJIaDp9Q

Airing during Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows”, NBC spokesman Richard Harkness announced that RCA had won the “compatible color television” standards fight …

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 5

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 5

Today is the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over the weekend, Eyes Of A Generation will continue to tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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THE RCA RED BOOK…The 74 Page Equipment Sections

For your convenience, I have broken out two parts of the huge 699 page report and this is the first part. I have included at the top of the PDF, the page index for all the may parts of the first commercial color system from RCA. AT THE END…a rare Price List!!!

Tomorrow, I will post the second part…the fantastic history of the color tests, as they move from the first studios in Washington, to Studio 3H and finally The Colonial Theater in New York. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://eyesofageneration.com/rca-red-book-equipment-holy-grail-early-color-television-history-part-1-2/

RCA Red Book, “The Equipment”…Holy Grail Of Early Color Television History, Part 1 of 2 – Eyes Of A Generation…Television’s Living History

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

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 6

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 2, PART 6

Today is the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Over the weekend, Eyes Of A Generation will continue to tell the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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The CBS Chromacorder System…An “Also Ran” In NTSC Color

After RCA’s challenge to the FCC over the adaption of the CBS Field Sequential System in the early 50s, more and more manufacturers and industry leaders were betting on RCA’s Compatible Color System. Even CBS!

To keep a hand in the game, and try and salvage some of the millions they had spent acquiring a tube and set maker, CBS came up with the Chromacorder System. In essence, the camera used the old Field Sequential color wheel, and set the signal to the Chromacorder unit that converted it to NTSC Compatible Color standards.

In October of 1953, a big demonstration was held in New York for the FCC, NTSC and others. CBS, RCA/NBC and Dumont participated by broadcasting their own color demonstrations. Starting on Page 35, of the Broadcasting Magazine issue, you can read all of the interesting details and see what not so good things most had to say about the CBS portion.

http://americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC/BC-1953/BC-1953-10-12.pdf

For a deeper dip into the Chromacorder system, our friend Steve McVoy’s excellent site has this article (link below) with 5 very interesting links/parts, including the work CBS was doing with GE, who was going to supply the camera equipment if things went well, but they didn’t. The camera in the photo is one of the GE black and whites with the CBS Field Sequential color wheel inside, and there are more detailed photos in the Early Television article.

http://www.earlytelevision.org/chromacoder.html

More Tomorrow! -Bobby Ellerbee

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SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 3, PART 7

SPECIAL 3 DAY BIRTH OF COLOR EVENT: DAY 3, PART 7

Yesterday was the 63rd anniversary of commercial color broadcasting in America. Today, Eyes Of A Generation will present the last parts of the most complete story of the development of RCA’s Compatible Color System, ever presented on the internet. Pass the word! More below the line. -Bobby Ellerbee
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THE RCA RED BOOK…The 89 Page HISTORY Section

To me, this is the most fascinating part, because here, we get complete details of not only the Wardman Park, NBC 3H and Colonial Theater color studios themselves, but descriptions of what happened in them.

Near the middle, there is a long stretch of log pages, but don’t let that stop you…there is much more interesting info after that, including rarely seen photos of the NBC 3H control room, the first color remote unit and much more.

I knew that Nanette Fabray had been a big part of the early color test shows, but who knew that TV artist John Gnagy was too? That and a dozen more surprises are ready to reveal themselves.

By the way, in the post part of this story, there is link to the entire 699 page Red Book, which is downloadable.-Bobby Ellerbee

http://eyesofageneration.com/rca-red-book-history-holy-grail-early-color-television-history-part-2-2/

RCA Red Book, “The History”…Holy Grail Of Early Color Television History, Part 2 of 2 – Eyes Of A Generation…Television’s Living History

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

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