Posts in Category: Library

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1957 Projection Screen TV

The more of this old stuff we see, the more the new ideas seem “not so new”, don’t they?


Saturday Night Live…The 250 Page Coffeetable Book

Over a thousand pictures that start on Day 1, tell a 40+ year story like you have never seen it! Author Alison Castle has told the SNL story like no one ever has with the help of Lorne Michaels and many cast members. This is a must read for all fans of the show, live television and comedy. -Bobby Ellerbee



NBC: 1939 World’s Fair…America’s First Television Tour

The first big push to bring television to the public’s attention was mounted by RCA at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. This is a rare survivor…the 32 page tour book handed out at the RCA Pavilion, that attempts to cover many aspects of the new media. It is packed with rare photos and maps, that even show the Alexanderson Mechanical Disc Camera from the early 1920s, and the later version of that technology, complete with the famous Felix The Cat scanning camera on display. Enjoy!


ATT Telephone TV Skyway

A brief, but informative look at the ATT effort to span the continent with new coaxial and microwave relay systems to enable television from coast to coast.


1929: Radio Movies in Color


One of the leaders of Bell Labs had an idea of how to show the black and white movies of those days in color. This idea seems to be a lot like what we finally got in electronic color TV, with the use of mirrors and color filters.

1930: Television Gives Radio Eyes and Ears


Discussions of 1929 TV milestones like ‘color over a wire’ and other events are described, but TV had yet to prove its broadcast potential and the closed circuit possibilities are discussed here. In their wildest dreams, they never envisioned what TV has become.

1931: 3-D Television?!

And you thought 3-D television was a new thing. Ha!


1931: Tour Of CBS Experimental TV Studio, W2XAB New York

Complete with pictures and drawings, this 1931 article from Science and Mechanics takes us on a tour of CBS’s W2XAB facility in New York…one of the first experimental television stations in the U.S.

1932: David Sarnoff on “Where Television Stands Today”

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-8-12-21-pm“Where Television Stands Today” is an 8-page article written for Modern Mechanics by one of the most important names, and true pioneers, of broadcasting. It’s a very interesting read.

1932: First American Cathode Ray Televisor


From Everyday Science and Mechanics, a few quick notes on the state of mechanical and electronic television progress, including the lens drum and diagrams of European sets.

1933, Where Television Stands Today

Suffice it to say that TV has come a long way, but this 4 page article from Modern Mechanics published in October of 1933 is quite interesting.

1936: First Philo T. Farnsworth Interview


The true father of television as we know it shares his thoughts on the new medium’s future. This may be one of the earliest interviews with him, but even if it’s not, it’s interesting to see his thoughts in the context of the times in which he lived. Remember, the Great Depression was in full force in ’36.

1937: NBC Broadcast Test

With no sets yet available to the public, NBC did a public demonstration of a broadcast at 30 Rock. By now, London had 5,000 sets in use. There are several more stories on this and video too in the Daily Post section. Use the search feature.


1937: The Truth About Television


Now this is interesting! Here is a Modern Mechanix article from November 1937 that is complaining about TV. Not the abundance, but the lack! London had 5,000 sets in use while there were only 150 in New York. A lot of finger-pointing about why…leads us back to $$$. Yes, patents were an issue and no one wanted to get to ‘exposed’ before they were sure they had rights to their discoveries.

1938: Early Television Makeup

Here are two very interesting articles with great pictures to show what it took to make people look ‘normal’ in the early years. Wow!

popular-science-jan-1938 mechanics-illustrated-sept-1939-makeup

1938: Hand-Held Mini TV!

Again, it’s amazing how so many ‘new’ ideas are so old!


1938: Where Is Television Now?


Engineering types will love this great discussion on transmission techniques. Coaxial, long wave and more is discussed here in depth in a very good article. Also, the problems from lack of standards is talked about at length.

1939: New York TV Set Receives London Signal

When I first saw this, I was very curious how this could possibly happen with no coaxial cables or repeaters. The answer is in another article on this page: “1938, Where is TV Now?” The short answer is long-wave transmission, but read the other article for the inside scoop.



1939: Exploding the Television Boom

Wow! This nine-page article from Mechanix Illustrated is full of pictures, but the story is the biggie. TV had a lot of problems getting off the ground and a lot of those are laid out here. Sarnoff is being pushed by the government, costs of development are explored, problems with linking the coasts, and a lot more are laid out here – as well as the first daily broadcast schedules.

1940: Second Philo T. Farnsworth Interview


This four-page interview found Philo at age 33 and comes four years after his first major interview above. By now, he and Mr. Sarnoff are probably well acquainted.

1946: Mechanical Color Wheels or Electronic Color?


The question of the day: the choice between the CBS color wheel (sequential field system) or the RCA electronic dot matrix.

1947 Color TV Outlook


This is one of the first articles I’ve seen that starts to move the thought process away from the mechanical “spinning color disk” (CBS) concept to a more electronic (RCA) concept.

1949: What Every Family Wants To Know About TV


This is about as good as it gets! These 11 pages from the January 1949 issue of Science Illustrated lays it all out! From how many stations and where, to where the new coaxial cables are running, picture sizes, how many sets in use and much much more.

1952: TV Goes to the Conventions


Popular Mechanics shows in detail how one of the 1952 political conventions would be televised from Chicago. These were major broadcast events, and the amount of equipment and people brought in is just amazing.

1954: Behind the Split Screens of TV


Great article on how the first coast-to-coast, split-screen telecast of the 1954 Oscar ceremony was done. Awards were handed out in New York and Los Angeles at the same time, and the full story of how it was done is all here. This should bring back a lot of memories on how much Ma Bell meant to broadcasting in those days.



1955: The DuMont Electronicam


A one-page article on the DuMont Electronicam and its use on Jackie Gleason’s classic program The Honeymooners. It combined television and film.


1955: Ernie Kovacs’ Special Effects


Here is a 1955 article on some of the special effects Ernie Kovacs used on his program, an early pioneer in TV magic and electronic wizardry.

1964: Watch Your Favorite Show ANY Time!


This short article in Popular Science is about the early home video tape offerings. It’s a long way from there to where we got with Beta and VHS.

The History Of The Moving Image


From the Thraumatrope to the Video Walkman, the milestones are all here, in a brilliant 24 page creation from our friends at The American Museum Of The Moving Image.


The Dawn Of Tape


An in-depth look at the development of videotape as we know it. This 24 page article is one of the best I’ve seen on the history of videotape.

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