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Bill Cotter

For fans of 1960s TV station gear

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I found some negatives of Bell System installations that I thought folks might enjoy before I send them off to eBay. This first batch was in an envelope labeled "Newtown Video Bays May 3, 1963." The negatives are so sharp you can read the equipment labels.

newtown-1.jpg

newtown-2.jpg

newtown-3.jpg

newtown-4.jpg

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Besides all that retro hardware, those are some classic linoleum floor tiles too. I'll bet in crap brown. hahahaha :D

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What a cable tracing nightmare.

Computers completely transformed interior spaces. Ceilings had to be dropped and floors raised to allow for endless cable runs. Soon cooling became imperative and more space was devoted to ducts.

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Don't know much about these.

This is the first time I've seen oscilloscopes with some kind of meter built into the front panel. Seems it must be custom Bell / Western Electric gear. I'm guessing "TV station" here refers to the console pictured, not a broadcasting station.

It would be interesting to see the manuals for all that gear - what tube types did they use, what was the replacement schedule, etc.

In the radio wars, AT&T got the rights to operate networks, and this carried through to TV. I have an ad in which they touted the fact that they would be bringing color TV to the whole country whenever it was available. Will post when I have the time to find it.

The network operator's mantra: "It's OK on this end!"

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Bill, is it possible to zoom in on the oscilloscope front panel in the far upper right of the "television station?" The control labels, meter legend, and graticule would help figure out what was going on here.

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I will have to rescan it, Wayne, as I only saved it at this size for posting on eBay. Here's some others for you, though. This batch was labeled "Television Camera April 20, 1960." It looks like they were broadcasting something to an office in Hempstead, NY. The TV cameras were from General Precision Laboratory. The scop was a Type 524AD Cathode-Ray Oscilloscope from Techtronix. The monitors have Western Electric nameplates.

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tv-camera-2.jpg

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tv-camera-4.jpg

tv-camera-5.jpg

tv-camera-6.jpg

tv-camera-7.jpg

tv-camera-8.jpg

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That's interesting - wish I could guess what they were viewing. Apparently comparing a manually aimed camera with no view finder, and a remotely aimed one, but for what purpose?

In the last photo, the boxes full of jumbled cable apparently are labeled "remote line" and "proj booth." I can't make out the words on the monitors

"camera # 1 [something]" "camera # 2 [something]" ?

I got quite familiar with a similar Tek scope, the 525, about 1966.

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The guy at the cameras in #7 (in dark work clothes) is ready for anything needing adjustment with his tool pouch and stuffed shirt pocket. If he's a real TV tech, one of those tools is a "greenie" - a green-handled screwdriver just the right size for inserting into various holes in the gear to reach internal adjustments. Back when motel TV sets still had screwdriver adjustments, I used to always carry a greenie when I traveled so I could undo the bad adjustments that motel sets always seemed to have. Nowadays you need a special servicer's remote control to make any non-user adjustments.

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One camera was a standard lens, the other wide angle. That's from those signs over the monitor.

I'm guessing they were both aimed at a theater stage from the projection booth, so they could get wide shots of the whole thing and closer shots of a particular element, say a podium, then they could cut between them and feed the result back to the Central Office in Hempstead.

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Yes, does seem to be a projection booth with no projectors, shooting the theater stage. I wonder what the occasion was. It seems like the setup is very utilitarian, maybe a way to carry a presentation to employees to multiple campuses.

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Here's the Bell ad

I think Bell invented something else with this ad: Photoshop. Looks like the Marines were manually cut out of a picture with an Xacto knife and pasted into the picture of Independence hall.

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That had been around for a long time stig- the combination of razor blade and airbrush. People working for Stalin and Hitler were notorious for removing people from pictures who were suddenly persona non-grata and making it look almost like they'd never been there to begin with. :)

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Maybe cut and paste and maybe not. It was quite common for detail of photos intended for halftone printing (especially coarse newspaper prints) to have the details and outlines enhanced manually before making the plates. Don't know if that would have been the case for this magazine print, but it wouldn't surprise me too much. Later, when computer scanning began to be used (at least for the very high circulation magazines), unsharp masking could be used regularly instead.

EDIT: this wikipedia page claims the first drum scanner was shown in crude form in 1957, three years after the likely date of the Bell ad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_scanner#Drum

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