H. Ray Warren papers and audiovisual materialsCreation: 1955-1994
H. Ray Warren (1921-2011) was a physicist, engineer, and inventor at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) for thirty-one years, working primarily on magnetic tape recording innovations. Warren's papers and audiovisual materials form a small collection that documents developments in magnetic recording for audio and video tape, primarily related to magnetic heads and low crosstalk processing signals. This collection is arranged into eight series: Personal files; Patent files; Proposals; Reports and technical data/information; SelectaVision files; Publications and reprints; Work meeting notes and photographs; and Audio and video recordings. The documentation is fragmentary; none of the sets of papers is complete.
- Creation: 1955-1994
6 Linear Feet
H. Ray Warren (1921-2011) was a physicist, engineer, and inventor at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), a leading American electronics company, where he worked for thirty-one years, primarily on magnetic tape recording innovations.
Warren was born to Winona "Onie" S. Conner (1886-1962) and Vado Penn Warren (1879-1966) in Hall County, Georgia. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Georgia in 1953.
After graduation, he began working for RCA at the Camden, New Jersey, site. Between 1953 and 1965, Warren advanced in position and worked on several projects designing and developing magnetic heads, a broadcast-compatible video tape recorder for the submarine USS Seadragon, and the data tape recorder used on all Gemini space flights orbiting Sky Lab.
From 1965 to 1977, Warren was head of design and development for the SelectaVision Video Tape Project, working at the Consumer Projects Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. SelectaVision was a system that allowed viewers to watch one program while taping another for future use. In 1973, Warren won the David Sarnoff Award for Technical Achievement in the Consumer Electronics Division for outstanding achievement in developing this product. Unfortunately, SelectaVision Magtape never came to market; it was abandoned in 1975 after the success of Sony's Betamax. The SelectaVision name continued to be applied to the videodisc (Capacitance Electronic Disc), which launched in 1981.
Warren then became a member of the Technical Staff at the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1977 until his retirement in 1984.
He established a consulting firm in New Egypt, New Jersey, after his retirement. His consulting work focused on developing his own inventions and aided patent attorneys with descriptions and claims during the patent application phase.
Warren received twenty-nine U.S. patents related to magnetic recording and processing of AM, FM, and digital signals. He was an accomplished musician, serving as an orchestra leader for many years prior to his work at RCA, and he continued arranging music throughout his career.
Warren married Edna "Dee" V. Davis Warren (1929-2019); the couple had three children.
He died in St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 2011.
Scope and Contents
Warren's papers and audiovisual materials form a small collection that documents developments in magnetic recording for audio and video tape, primarily related to magnetic heads and low crosstalk processing signals.
This collection is arranged into eight series: Personal files; Patent files; Proposals; Reports and technical data/information; SelectaVision files; Publications and reprints; Work meeting notes and photographs; and Audio and video recordings. The documentation is fragmentary; none of the sets of papers is complete. The original order was lost; therefore, the archivist imposed the arrangement. Each series is organized in chronological order.
The Personal files series is a small set of papers that includes performance appraisals and goals, letters announcing awards Warren received, Warren's resume and cover letter for consulting work, and an agreement with a colleague for concept development consulting. There are two engineering notebooks. The first one is almost entirely full, containing sketches and notes mostly of video tape recorders and mechanisms. The second notebook only contains a few pages. There is an appointment calendar with notes, telephone numbers, expenses, and other comments. The materials date from 1957 to 1992.
The Patent files series consists of patent disclosure sheets, Warren's patents, prior art, and materials from a patent lawsuit. The patent disclosure sheets date from 1955 to 1983 and provide RCA with descriptions of the invention, probable uses, background, and other relevant information. The files also include correspondence and diagrams. There are official copies of Warren's patents, as well as some related notes and correspondence. The prior art materials appear to be from Warren's time operating his consulting firm in assisting patent attorneys with prior art during the patent application process. These files are titled and dated by the final patent dating from 1988 to 1990, but also include older patents. The REFAC v. Matasushita case, regarding U.S. Patent 4,425,590, files pertain to a patent infringement case in which Warren served as a technical expert on behalf of the defense (MEI/JVC). Jerome Lemelson, an inventor, sued the makers and distributors of VCRs and audio cassette recorders. REFAC International Limited represented Lemelson. Warren testified, using prior art, that Lemelson was not a victim of patent infringement but rather was guilty of inequitable conduct.
The Proposals series is a small set of submitted proposals or bids for recorder/reproducer projects, mainly work for governmental agencies, but some contracted work for other companies as well. Proposals generally include an introduction, system description, illustrations, diagrams, environmental considerations, a work plan, schedule, technical features, and necessary background information. The materials date from 1960 to 1967.
The Reports and technical data/information series consists mainly of an RCA report entitled "Technique Developments" (later called "Techniques"). While the collection does not include a complete run of the report, there are many issues. The report is a catalog and description of new techniques explored in RCA's Development Engineering Department. The table of contents categorizes topics under the following headings: new devices, communications, magnetic recording, input-output devices, applied physics, masers and millimeters, advanced mechanical engineering, and signal processing. There is also technical data/information for several video cassette players/recorders. The documentation includes description, operation, and installation details with illustrations and diagrams. The series dates from 1958 to 1987.
The SelectaVision files series includes a short film about the system, a consumer report, a featured journal article, a business plan, a consultation review, a test tape, and a brochure. The consumer report includes summary and conclusions, the research procedure, recommendations, and data charts for each question. The business plan includes a summary, risks and opportunities, boards, rates and allowances, costs, and a financial summary. The consultation review is a report that outlines the results of an analysis of the transport mechanism and magnetic heads. The evaluation focuses on manufacturability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Materials date from 1972 to 1975. The Publications and reprints series is almost entirely related to magnetic recordings, many related to the Gemini Project or TIROS weather satellite. The publications date from 1958 to 1969.
The Work meeting notes and photographs series consists primarily of images of parts and mechanisms of videotape player/recorder and broadcasting equipment. There are images of color demonstration tests and sound test signals. There is also documentation related to videotape player design review meetings, signal crosstalk, and an overview of the David Sarnoff Research Center. The materials date from 1954 to 1990. The Audio and video recordings series consists mostly of jazz recordings of Warren and others playing; there are some recordings of talks and lectures. The audio recordings are chiefly sound reel-to-reels and undated, though presumably ranging from the 1960s to the early 1980s. There is one video tape recording of a lecture given by John Wentworth.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- Radio Corporation of America (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- H. Ray Warren papers and audiovisual materials
- Laurie Sather
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