Submitted by David Horowitz who received it from Charles Higgins. Written by Ted Langdell.
55 years ago last week, CBS made broadcast (and videotape) history when it replayed the Nov. 30, 1956 evening news broadcast with Douglas Edwards from an Ampex Quad VTR at CBS Television City in Hollywood.After recording the live feed coming down the network line from New York at 4 p.m. Pacific time, the program was played back three hours later and fed to the dozen West Coast CBS affiliates.
CBS Engineer John Radis supervised the process on this VRX-1000. Jim Morrison is on the phone to the right of VRX-1000 transport, one of only 16 hand-built machines Ampex rushed to produce after debuting the VTR eight months before. The two racks of tube equipment to the left contain the electronics for the recorder.
CBS created a videotape room that was kept busy recording network feeds for time-zone delay and eventually, programs produced in the studios at Television City.
Here’s the prototype VTR called “Mark IV” that started the revolution on April 14, 1956 at the NARTB show in Chicago, when a group of CBS television affiliates saw remarks by CBS’s Bill Lodge miraculously repeat themselves on three television monitors. (See page 10 of the “History of The Early Days of Ampex Corporation” at http://bit.ly/oLtUoO )
The Mark IV was one of the machines Ampex sold to CBS, shown here 23 years later during the week it was retired from service.
In this photo taken (in 1979?) by Donna Foster-Rozien, her husband Joe Rozien of Telegen and Charles Mesak, Television City’s manager of videotape recording pose with the Mark IV, which at some point had been equipped with modules to enable color recording and playback.
The photo accompanied a May, 1981 Broadcast Engineering article by Ampex’s Charles P. Ginsburg on the 25th anniversary of Videotape™ recording. Ginsburg recounted the lengthy story behind the development of the Quadruplex VTR, and how it ended up causing gasps of surprise at the 1956 unveiling in Chicago.
(The VT Oldboys website reports it was 22 years and was replaced by a Sony BVH-1000. See http://www.vtoldboys.com/mont87.htm)
First Instant Replay:
For three nervous quarters, Verna peered into his monitor and studied his two guinea pigs, Navy quarterback Roger Staubach and Army counterpart Rollie Stichweh. Verna had assigned one camera to follow only the two signal-callers, primarily because Staubach was so skilled with his ball-handling and fakes that most cameramen couldn’t keep up with him.
Although Staubach was the winner of the 1963 Heisman Trophy, it was Stichweh who made television history that day. Stichweh faked to an Army halfback before running into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, Army’s last in a 21-15 loss.
The requisite beeps sounded in the production truck. Words passed through cables and into headsets. Seconds later, a clear image of Stichweh and the Army offense appeared on the monitor. Verna pulled the trigger and threw the picture on air.
“Here it comes,” he warned play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson, to whom he had revealed his intentions only hours earlier, during the taxicab ride to Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium.
Nelson didn’t even have time to forewarn his audience that they would be witnessing television history. Most important, though, Stichweh “re- scampered” into the end zone and the very first instant replay went off without a technical hitch.
So as not to confuse viewers, Nelson alerted his audience to what they’d just seen: “This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”
During the game, Schramm phoned Verna in the truck. “My boy,” Schramm told Verna, “what you have done here will have such far-reaching implications, we can’t begin to imagine them today.”