History of Color Television Recording
And Time-Zone Delay
Ed. Reitan, Jr.
The progress of early color television was greatly hindered
because of the lack of a suitable solution to the East Coast / West
Coast time-zone problem. A live color program from
Even the major 1955 production of “Peter Pan” was shown on a
Monday afternoon in
As RCA and NBC had a major stake in assuring success of color television, a solution to this problem had to be found.
A color kinescope recording process was operational with the
start of NTSC colorcasting in 1954. A
Triniscope (three crt) receiver provided sufficient
brightness to directly expose the low speed color film of the era. A short color film kinescope recording does
survive of the
However, this direct color film recording process was not practical for time-zone delay purposes as it required more than three hours, at that time, to develop color film.
The lenticular color recording process was therefore developed. NBC and RCA engineers provided recording and playback hardware, and Eastman Kodak developed the 35 mm black and white reversal lenticular film. Two recording channels were installed at NBC Burbank. RCA TK-26 color film cameras were modified to play the lenticular films. The black and white lenticular film could be developed within the three hour time-zone turn-around time.
The first program to be time-zone delayed at
RCA first demonstrated recording of color television via
magnetic tape on
A prototype machine was then developed and installed at NBC
New York. On
NBC’s only network use of the longitudinal RCA magnetic tape
Although Ampex developed practical videotape recording and playback of black and white television, their machines could not reproduce color television. The Ampex concept was to use two-inch magnetic tape, moving at 15-inches per second, past a wheel with four tape heads, rotating at 14,400 rpm and penetrating into the tape.
The feat of color television recording and playback was first
accomplished by scientists at RCA Laboratories during 1957. To do this, RCA modified an Ampex VRX-1000
machine with additional racks of RCA Labs designed electronics. Experimental videotape time-zone delay of a color
“Kraft Theater” was first publically disclosed as
being done from NBC Hollywood on
CBS network use of color videotape was not until Christmas Day, 1958 at CBS Television City Hollywood with the time-zone delay of the “Playhouse 90” color production, “The Nutcracker”. CBS used an Ampex machine modified with an Ampex 1010 color processing kit.
The deployment of color video tape was to cause a major change in the production of television programs.
© 2009 E. H. Reitan