Posts in Category: Broadcast History

TV Lens Week…Post 2: The Pickle Barrel Lens

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TV Lens Week…Post 2: The Pickle Barrel Lens

In the photo below, you see a sports event from the late 1940s or early ’50s being covered by a couple of RCA TK30s with zoom lenses. The long lens is a 27 element Zoomar Field Lens. The other camera is equipped with periscope type reflector lens, possibly from Rank, Taylor, Hobson. Due to it’s shape and size, it was commonly referred to as ‘the pickle barrel’ lens.


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TV Lens Week…Post 1: The Amazingly High Cost Of Lenses!

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TV Lens Week…Post 1: The Amazingly High Cost Of Lenses!

At the link under this text, you’ll see the retail price for Canon’s Digi Super lenses from B&H in New York. Prices range from a low of about $75,000 to over $153,000 for Canon’s top of the line HD box lenses. I’m pretty sure the lenses are available from Canon at a lower price, but as you know, most manufacturers don’t post their prices lists. The zoom and focus demands on page 2 are around $3,800 each! More to come!

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=canon+digi+super&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search


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Inside The Iconoscope & One Of The First Orthicon Cameras

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Inside The Iconoscope & One Of The First Orthicon Cameras

Revised from the earlier post: In 1941, TV was still quite a novelty, as this clip portrays. At 1:27 you get a look at one of the first RCA Orthicon cameras and the first ever mobile unit. At 4:22, you get a look inside an RCA 500A Iconoscope camera. Most interesting of all to me is the 7:15 section where the RCA Orthicon camera is put together at the ballpark. The lower half, with the tube, is mounted first and the optical (not electronic) viewfinder is added next. The viewfinder has it’s own lens (matching the taking lens on the bottom element) and is not showing the cameraman the actual image from the Orthicon tube. Seeing the actual tube output will finally come in 1946 when the RCA TK30 Image Orthicon camera is introduced.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiDwxlPFYp8

A great watch. This video explains the demand for television within society. It goes on to show the technological process of televising images with equipment…
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Pye Experimental Color Camera; Field Sequential System

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Pye Experimental Color Camera; Field Sequential System

In the US, the color system battle ended in December of 1953 with the FCC adapting the RCA ‘Dot Sequential’ system over the CBS ‘Field Sequential’ system, but in the UK, this was not settled. This camera is basically a Pye Mark III – 84 – 2014 black and white camera with a color wheel mounted behind the bottom left lens. The hump on top is the housing for the motor that spins the color wheel. The rotation of the wheel was synchronized to the field period of the camera so that, red, green & blue images were presented in succession to the tube which would have been a standard 3 inch Image Orthicon type. The photo is believed to be from around 1954 and is courtesy of Brian Summer’s great site, http://www.tvcameramuseum.org.


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April 15, 1956: The Day Color TV Came To Chicago

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April 15, 1956: The Day Color TV Came To Chicago

http://www.richsamuels.com/nbcmm/1968/fadeup2.html

The link above will take you to Rich Samuel’s great site that covers Chicago broadcast history from stem to stern. The linked page is about WMAQ’s conversion to color. I wish more cities had broadcast historians like Mr. Samuels. Enjoy the site!


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The Ann Sothern Shows…All Three Of Them

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The Ann Sothern Shows…All Three Of Them

‘Ann Sothern Show’ www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSLJbQsNQV8
‘Private Secretary’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZJvTnXtIJo

First, a couple of notes: Lucile Ball is Ann’s guest star in the ‘Ann Sothern’ clip. I remember watching both of these…you too?

After a carrier in radio and film, Ann Sothern turned to TV. In 1953, she landed the lead in the series Private Secretary. Sothern portrayed the role of Susan Camille “Susie” MacNamara, a secretary working for New York City talent agent Peter Sands (Don Porter).

The series aired on CBS on alternate weeks with The Jack Benny Program. ‘Private Secretary’ was a hit with audiences and Sothern was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role on the series four times. In 1957, the show was renewed for a fifth season, but Sothern left the series after she had a what she later described as a “violent fight” with producer Jack Chertok over profits from the series.

She returned to television the following year in ‘The Ann Sothern Show’. Sothern starred as Katy O’Connor, the assistant manager at the fictitious Bartley House hotel. The series originally co-starred Ernest Truex as Katy’s timid boss Jason Macauley who was routinely out shined by Katy and bullied by his wife Flora (Reta Shaw). Ratings for the series were weak and after twenty-three episodes, the show was re-tooled.

Sothern’s co-star from Private Secretary, Don Porter signed on Katy’s boss James Devery. The addition of Porter added romantic tension to the series and helped to improve ratings. In 1959, the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. During the series’ second season, Jesse White, who also starred in Private Secretary, joined the cast. Ratings for the series remained solid until CBS moved ‘The Ann Sothern Show’ to Thursdays for its third season. Scheduled opposite the popular ABC series ‘The Untouchables’, ratings dropped substantially and the show was canceled in 1961.

Later, ‘Private Secretary’ was renamed ‘Susie’ and released for syndication.

1959 Ann Sothern Show featuring Lucille Ball. Episode 1 of Season 2: Lucy Ricardo visits her old friend Katy. Ricky is out of town, and Lucy wants to play ma…
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RCA Catalog 1964 With Prices

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RCA Catalog Week, Post #1…1964 TK60 Catalog With Prices

As promised, each day this week, I’ll be posting rare RCA catalogs in PDF form. Some will be over 100 pages and include all of RCA’s broadcast equipment including radio, but I wanted to start with this one because it is one of the few that has a price list with it, including the price of the TK41C.

This will be an education in more than one way as you learn just how much inflation has crept into our economy thanks to the relentless printing of money by the Federal Reserve Bank. In today’s dollars, the TK60 chain would cost $154,423.17 instead of the $21,500 it sold for in 1964. An RCA TK41 chain would cost $412,992.21 today instead of the $57,500 it cost in 1964. I hope you will share these and this page with friend! Enjoy!

http://johnfleetwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/TK60.pdf

http://johnfleetwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/TK60.pdf

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Wizard Of Oz – Behind The Scenes

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Wizard Of Oz – Behind The Scenes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKcxX6beKl0

When the ‘Wizard of Oz’ had it’s last network broadcast on CBS (May 8th, 1998), the bumpers around the commercial breaks had interesting behind the scenes tr…
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Yet Another Disappearing TV Camera!

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Yet Another Disappearing TV Camera!

In this 1984 video, UK magician Paul Daniels makes a Link 125 studio camera vanish! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cCXBCD6Ols

On a 1984 edition of his magic show, Paul Daniels makes a Link 125 camera disappear.
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Meet ‘I Love Lucy’s’ Summer Replacement! ‘My Little Margie’

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Meet ‘I Love Lucy’s’ Summer Replacement! ‘My Little Margie’

Remember this show’s theme song? I do, and you can hear it again and see a full episode of ‘My Little Margie’ here, starring Gail Storm and Charles Farrell. This is episode six of season two and first aired on 10/25/52.

‘My Little Margie’ premiered on CBS as the summer replacement for I Love Lucy on June 16, 1952, under the sponsorship of Philip Morris cigarettes (when the series moved to NBC for its third season in the fall of 1953, Scott Paper Company became its sponsor). In an unusual move, the series—with the same leads—aired original episodes on CBS Radio, concurrently with the TV broadcasts, from December 1952 through August 1955. As usual, this episode ends with the same line her dad, Vern Albright used at the end of each show…”Well, that’s my little Margie”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP3NpF_p3rI

Because that’s when the syndicated edition of the series was prepared; as previously mentioned, the original closing credits were seen with a Philip Morris pack in the background…they had to be refilmed, along with the credits seen during the 1953-’55 Scott Paper sponsorship {a box of Scotties on…
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You Mean There Were Art Departments? Yes!

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You Mean There Were Art Departments?

Yes! Once upon a time, local stations and networks had real artists on staff. Before electronic and computer graphics came along, art departments made flip cards for promos, made title and closing credit cards, illustrated ticker crawls like the one in this photo and more. This picture is from 1960 and shows a CBC Marconi Mark II camera shooting a side to side crawl on what may be a Grey Ticker Table. Anyone know more about the machine?


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David Muir Takes Us On A Tour Of ABC News Headqarters

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David Muir Takes Us On A Tour Of ABC News Headqarters

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEOf2F_PNGE

Behind-the-scenes tour of the ABC News headquarters with David Muir, anchor of “World News.” The ABC complex on Manhattan’s upper west side is home to ABC Ne…
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Fascinating Photo! The Iconoscope Tube In Action…

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Fascinating Photo! The Iconoscope Tube In Action…

Here is the heart of early electronic television cameras. This photo, taken by Andreas Fininger, shows an image bring projected into the lens, and then displayed on the plate of the Iconoscope tube. You can actually see the scanning beam in process. Thanks to J P Auger in Canada for sending this!


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Ever Seen A Marconi Mark IV In Color?

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Ever Seen A Marconi Mark IV In Color?

Having just posted the story below of the Mark IVs at Television City, I thought I would add this color photo of my Mark IV. Although CBS painted many of their cameras Navy Grey, I think the one in that photo is still it’s original color. This is the original Champagne color of these great cameras. This is the first Marconi model with handles and they were the same color as the camera, but on later models like the Mark VII color cameras, the handles had a brushed aluminum look.


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Pye Camera demonstration

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A Rose By Many Names…Norelco, Philips, Pye, Peto Scott

In this very good video, notice that the Norelco PC70 has a Pye logo on the side instead of a Norelco (as we knew the brand in the US), or Phillips logo (as the camera was branded in the rest of the world). You may have also seen these cameras with a Peto Scott logo. Here is the story of the branding…

(A) Norelco: In a nut shell, Philco, in a 1940s court ruling forced Phillips to use another name for their products in the US. That brand name became Norelco and was cobbled from Phillips North American Electronics Company. Over 95% of all the Norelco cameras in the US were made at Mt. Vernon NY.

(B) Phillips: This is the parent company in the Netherlands. Their Plumbicon color cameras in the US were Norelco PC (for Plumbicon Color) models, while in the rest of the world, they were LDK models…our Norelco PC60 was their LDK 1. Our PC70 was their LDK 2, etc. I think LDK comes from the Dutch term for the Lead Oxide Camera…in Europe, Plumbicons are often referred to as ‘lead oxide valves’ (valves = tubes).

(C) Pye: In 1966, Phillips tried to buy Pye but was allowed only 60% ownership under anti monopoly rules in the UK. Demand for their plumbicon cameras was so great, and the Dutch plant so overwhelmed that many Phillips LDK cameras were made at their Pye plant in England under the Pye and Phillips name.

(D) Petto Scott: Needing even more production capacity, Phillips/Pye took over the small UK based camera maker, Peto Scott around 1968. Most of their camera output was Phillips branded, but in a few regions in the UK, they were allowed to brand the cameras as Peto Scott for marketing and anti trust reasons.

Thanks to Steven Davis for the video clip. http://vimeo.com/54802413

Pye Camera demonstration

Specially shot video with former BBC Manchester cameraman, Malcolm Carr, demonstrating the Pye outside broadcast camera, from the late 1960s to early 1970s, at a…
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Very Nice! The EMI 2001 Model, 5 minute tour of the camera

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Very Nice! The EMI 2001 Model

This is nice 5 minute tour of the EMI 2001 that debuted in 1966, complete with a built in shot box. The demonstration is by veteran BBC cameraman Malcon Carr. Thanks to Steven Davis for sharing this video. Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/56213499#Specially shot video of cameraman Malcolm Carr demonstrating the EMI 2001 studio/ outside broadcast camera. The camera was a favourite with cameramen, and was the…
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ULTRA RARE! ‘You Bet Your Life’ Pilot Show!

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ULTRA RARE! ‘You Bet Your Life’ Pilot Show!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGnn0TFfHJ0 pilot

Although the TV show aired on NBC from 1950 – 1961, it was a CBS radio show when this very casual demo was shot. Notice Groucho is wearing a sport shirt and techs are adjusting the mics like it was only radio. Here is a bit of background on the show and some very interesting production notes.

During a radio appearance with Bob Hope in March 1947, Marx ad-libbed most of his performance, which gave the shows producer an idea. John Guedel, the Hope program’s producer, formed an idea for a quiz show and approached Marx about the subject. After initial reluctance by Marx, Guedel was able to convince him to host the program after Marx realized the quiz would be only a backdrop for his contestant interviews and the storm of ad-libbing that they would elicit by trying to get them to ‘say the secret word’. Guedel also convinced Marx to invest in 50% of the show, in part by saying that he was “untouchable” at ad-libbing, but not at following a script.

A year before ‘I Love Lucy’ started with three film cameras on the set, Groucho was shooting with eight! Eight 35mm cameras were used, duplicated in pairs, in four locations. While one set of cameras shot the program with 10-minute reels, the other set were re-loaded and put into action as the reels ran out. Reportedly, the reason why this show was prerecorded for broadcast was because the network was afraid that Groucho Marx’s ad-libs would run afoul of the censors. In reality, the main reason was to condense the interviews to fit the allotted time with the most entertaining material. All the shows were done in front of studio audiences and those sessions were usually from 35 to 40 minutes long for them.

Although the popular impression is that Groucho Marx entirely improvised his jokes, in reality the show also had gag writers who interviewed the contestants beforehand and prepared questions and comments for Groucho to use in addition to his own improvisations. To feed them to him subtly, a Tele-Score bowling alley projector, located stage left and out of camera range, was used…ever notice him ‘looking off into space’? He was probably looking at the Tele-Score screen.

Reposted is another rarity from my archives. You Bet Your Life was an American radio and television quiz show. The first and most famous version was hosted b…
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The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 3 & 4

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The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 3 & 4

The discovery came in the spring of 1970…here is the story!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8TrN-RGLOg PART 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKebFys0Vt0 PART 4

The Story behind the most famous pair of slippers ever made.
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Ever Seen A TK10 In Color? Here’s My WGN TK10…

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While I’m At It…

Since I just posted the 1948 color photo below of a WGN TK10, I thought I would follow it it up with a shot of the only known surviving camera from the original 8 that WGN bought in 1948. This camera came to me about 2 years ago and I am very glad it is still in such good cosmetic condition. Unfortunately, most of the insides are missing, but I’m quite happy to have such an iconic camera from such a pioneering station. It’s a great piece of history!


RCA TK10 from WGN
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Something You Rarely See…

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Something You Rarely See…

This is a rare color photo of an RCA TK10 at WGN in Chicago. This is one of 8 the station bought when they went on the air in 1948 and it could be the camera I own. The reason I wanted to post this was to show the original factory look. For some reason, many people think the red stripes were added at the stations…probably due to the fact few color photos exist of these great cameras. By the way, the first TK10s were made in December of 1946 and were the second Image Orthicon cameras on the market…the first was the RCA TK30 that came out a few months before the TK10. The reason the TK30 was released first is because the military wanted a field camera, which the TK30 was, but it was also widely used in studios too.


Rare 1948 color photo of TK10 and “Hi Ladies” host Tommy Bartlett
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The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 2 of 4

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The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 2

In this great 4 part documentary, we learn the incredible story of the most famous slippers ever made. In this part, we discover how they were found and who found them! Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tk8neCC3go

The story behind the most famous pair of slippers ever made.
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RCA TK45s In Action: 1995, Melbourne Australia

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RCA TK45s In Action: 1995, Melbourne Australia

Amazingly, ATV bought these TK45 cameras new in 1973 and used them till 1995! Here’s a look behind the scenes with thanks to James Paterson.

ex 1″ Videotape
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This Is FASCINATING! The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 1 of 4

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This Is FASCINATING!

The Story Of The Ruby Slippers, Part 1

In this great 4 part documentary, we learn the incredible story of the most famous slippers ever made. Who made them, how many pair were made, how they were lost, how they were found, who found them and where they are now. Each pair is now valued at over a million dollars each. In this part, you’ll see some great behind the scenes shots of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ in production. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lHrgBbr6PY PART 1

The story behind the most famous pair of slippers ever made.
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The Debbie Reynolds Collection Tour

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The Debbie Reynolds Collection Tour

A year or so ago, Debbie sold about half of this collection at auction for several million dollars. I think this video was done before that as I see some pieces that were sold, but this is a wonderful look at a one of a kind collection. Thanks to Debbie Reynolds, much of this great treasure has been saved. I wish they showed all the Cleopatra wardrobes in this piece. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1skfMz9QU0

Tour of the Debbie Reynolds Collection including the Ruby Red Slippers from The Wizard Of Oz and the famous white Marilyn Monroe dress from The Seven Year Itch
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Live Eye…First Of The Live TV Vans

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Live Eye…First Of The Live TV Vans

WTVJ in Miami purchased its first “Live-Eye” Truck in 1975. Built by the O.J. Ferrell Company, and modified by the engineering staff, the truck was considered to be “State-of-the-Art,” and once boasted doing 11 news stories in one day. WAGA in Atlanta also bought Live Eye trucks in 1975. Although the RCA TK76, the first true self contained ENG camera was still a year away, Ikegami and Ampex had hand held video cameras. There were a few small Ampex and RCA portable tape machines, but with no editing ability. I’m sure there were a few station built live vans starting to appear, but I think the Ferrell company’s vans were the first to be specially modified for live TV.


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The Wide World Of Broadcast Formats

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The Wide World Of Broadcast Formats

There are three main television standards used throughout the world.

NTSC – National Television Standards Committee
Developed in the US and first used in 1954, NTSC is the oldest existing broadcast standard. It consists of 525 horizontal lines of display and 60 vertical lines. Only one type exists, known as NTSC M. It is sometimes irreverently referred to as “Never Twice the Same Color.”

SECAM – Système Électronique pour Couleur avec Mèmoire.
Developed in France and first used in 1967. It uses a 625-line vertical, 50-line horizontal display. Different types use different video bandwidth and audio carrier specifications. Types B and D are usually used for VHF. Types G, H, and K are used for UHF. Types I, N, M, K1 and L are used for both VHF and UHF. These different types are generally not compatible with one another. SECAM is sometimes irreverently referred to as “Something Essentially Contrary to the American Method” or “SEcond Color Always Magenta.”

PAL – Phase Alternating Line
Developed in Germany and first used in 1967. A variant of NTSC, PAL uses a 625/50-line display. Different types use different video bandwidth and audio carrier specifications. Common types are B, G, and H. Less common types include D, I, K, N, and M. These different types are generally not compatible with one another. Proponents of PAL irreverently call it “Perfection At Last,” while critics of its enormous circuit complexity call it “Pay A Lot” or “Picture Always Lousy.”


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Network Notes…On October 4, 1950, Atlanta Gets Coax Connection

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Network Notes…

On October 4, 1950, Atlanta was finally able to bring live network shows to Georgia via the new coaxial cable. Before the AT&T connection, network shows came in the mail as kinescopes and films.


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CBS Television City…Circa 1988

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CBS Television City…Circa 1988

This clip takes a look back as CBS prepares for it’s 60th Anniversary. Since the company became CBS in 1928, I’m guessing this was shot in 87 or 88. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU-k2CSHAOc

A feature on the history of, and some of the shows originating from CBS Television City.
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New Video Tour – Ellerbee Camera Collection

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New Video Tour – Ellerbee Camera Collection

It’s been a couple of years since the last video tour, so here’s a new version. Last time, there were only 12 cameras on display…now there are 16 on display and that’s about all that my space can handle. To you pros, this may look a little crude, but I’m using a little Sony photo camera while walking and narrating which is no easy trick. This is take 52,456. :>)[fb_vid id=”4736491896385″]
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Totally Television! Ampex NAB Poster

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Totally Television!

This is an illustration Ampex commissioned for one of the NAB shows. The art is by Jack Davis who you may remember from your MAD Magazine reading days.


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