This Is The ONLY TK42/43 NBC Ever Owned…Shocking But True
As you know, RCA owned NBC and was the world’s leading maker of television broadcast equipment so…it’s quite a wake up call when your own network doesn’t buy your “next big thing” in color cameras. Here’s the bitter sweet back story. The RCA TK42 came out in 1965, the same year Norelco debuted the PC60 Plumbicon camera. The TK42 had a black and white 4.5 inch tube for luminance and three Vidicon tubes for color. Frankly, the Norelco made a better picture and CBS bought them by the dozens. NBC’s equipment manager, Fred Himelfarb who was a former RCA engineer, was in on the testing but did not buy them for the network. He did however buy 35 Norelcos for the sports trucks. Even when the TK42 came out, another group of RCA engineers was working in secret on the TK44 which at that point was designed with three Vidicon tubes. In ’66, RCA came out with the TK43 with an external lens and took one to NBC NY to use on the network’s mid term election coverage. It was not ready at air time but an NBC logo was applied and a cameraman put behind it and was used as a prop of sorts. Later this camera went to the fifth floor for use in an “always on” news studio used for breaking news and WNBC’s 2AM news briefs. In a way, it all worked out the NBC’s advantage because RCA engineer Lou Bazin, who was heading up the TK44 team, got an unexpected invitation to visit Norelco’s US tube maker. Amperex was a Phillips subsidiary (as was Norelco) and the US source for the new Plumbicon tubes and yokes…the main component of Norelco’s ‘magic pictures’. This was a ‘no no’ as Amperex was not authorized to share this technology with RCA, but, Phillips was way over there in Holland and Amperex was just a short ride from Camden. There was money to be made is selling tubes to RCA. The plumbicon tubes were made in Rhode Island at another Phillips subsidiary. So, by waiting three years and keeping their well maintained fleet of TK41s humming along, NBC saved a lot of money by waiting for the TK44A Plumbicon which came in 1968. It wasn’t all tears at RCA though as nearly 400 TK42/43s were sold. For more details, please visit this link on the main site.