RCA Corporation collection of television and company history photographs and audiovisual materials1953-2009
For over fifty years the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was one of the country's leading manufacturers and vendors of radios, phonographs, televisions, and a wide array of consumer and military electronics products. The Radio Corporation of America was incorporated in Delaware on October 17, 1919, and changed its name to RCA Corporation on May 9, 1969. This collection is primarily made up of moving images and sound recordings collected by the David Sarnoff Research Library relating to the RCA corporation dating from 1953 to 2009. There is a set of photographs related to the Nippon Television Network and two photograph albums, one of 30 Rockefeller Center and the other containing waveform and photo-radio equipment. This collection is organized into eight series: Broadcast programming, Communications, Events, History, Meetings, Popular recordings, Reference materials, and Nippon Television Network.
- RCA Corporation (Organization)
10.5 Linear Feet
General Physical Description note
20 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 8 in. and smaller. 30 photographic prints : b&w ; 7 x 10 in. or larger. 6 reels : sd., col. ; 16mm. 3 sound discs : analog, 45 rpm. 1 sound disc (CD) : digital. 2 video discs (DVD). 5 sound tape reel. 14 sound discs : analog, 33 1/3 rpm. 2 sound discs : analog, 78 rpm. 34 videocassette (VHS) : 1/2 inch. 11 videocassette (Digital Betacam). 1 videocassette (D5) : 1/2 inch, sd., digital. 5 videocassette (U-Matic) : 3/4 inch. 2 videocassette (SVHS) : 1/2 inch. 4 reels : sd., b&w ; 16mm. 1 reel : sd., col. ; 35mm. 17 sound cassettes : analog.
For over fifty years the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was one of the country's leading manufacturers and vendors of radios, phonographs, televisions, and a wide array of consumer and military electronics products. The Radio Corporation of America was incorporated in Delaware on October 17, 1919, and changed its name to RCA Corporation on May 9, 1969. Through subsidiaries, it operated the country’s first radiotelegraph, radiotelephone and radio facsimile systems, as well as its pioneer radio and television networks. The company will always be identified with David Sarnoff (1891-1971), who began working for a predecessor company as an office boy in 1906, became vice president in 1922, president in 1930, and served as chairman from 1947 to 1970. Sarnoff was one of the first to grasp the full potential of radio and television and imparted to the company its reputation for research and innovation.
Nippon Television Network (NTV) was established in 1952 and was the first corporation to be granted a television broadcasting license in Japan. It began to broadcast black and white content in 1953. Japan's first color television demonstration took place five years later in 1958. Over the next two years public demonstrations of color television were held in train stations, city parks, schools, and various other locations. Most demonstrations showed sporting events such as wrestling and boxing. However one of most popular broadcasts took place on April 10, 1959 when the wedding and royal parade of Japan's then Crown Prince, now Emperor, Akihito was televised. In September 1960 Nippon Television was officially granted license to produce color television programs. Today, the network remains one of Japan's largest nationwide television services.
Scope and Content
This collection is primarily made up of moving images and sound recordings collected by the David Sarnoff Research Library relating to the RCA corporation dating from 1953 to 2009. There is a set of photographs related to the Nippon Television Network and two photograph albums, one of 30 Rockefeller Center and the other containing waveform and photo-radio equipment. This collection is organized into eight series: Broadcast programming, Communications, Events, History, Meetings, Popular recordings, Reference materials, and Nippon Television Network.
The Broadcast programming series includes material created by broadcast companies either about David Sarnoff, the Labs or were used for research purposes. Of note are three films (and Digital Betacam transfers) produced by the NBC Special Film Unit. Several programs about the history of NBC are included and have accompanying shot lists for some of the program. Also included are two versions of “The Story of Television”, which celebrated National Television Week. The program shows David Sarnoff, credits him as pioneer of television and explains the history of the process of television. “Color TV with Jimmy Durante & Sarnoff” was a program that introduced color television to the public. Of note is, ”Combat TV”, a program created by RCA in collaboration with the Army Signal Corps. This film promoted the use of television within the military and features David Sarnoff. Audio recordings include an entire “Today” show from 1966 and two recordings of “Executive Wire”, a business news program in which in one instance Robert Sarnoff is mentioned and another discusses the ABC/International Telephone and Telegraph merger. This sub-series also contains a news story on the Flat Panel display and the first Stereo Audio/Video Transmission on the Tonight Show. Also included is a Digital Betacam videocassette of "The Reasons Why," which focuses on research and development laboratories at Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Communications series is made up of materials that were used to promote the work of the company or used internally for informational purposes are in the Communications sub-series. One audio recording entitled “Old Guards at Princeton”, is an address given by C.J. King, Jr. on the David Sarnoff and Library. Two “VideoLine” videos are examples of RCA’s in-house employee video magazine. Also included here are videos not produced by the company that may have been used by employees in their work.
The series Events contains a 16mm film “RCA Party for Jack Benny” in which Jack Benny is given award and Robert Sarnoff speaks and presents a portable television/radio/alarm clock to Mr. Benny. George Burns is in the audience and Benny plays violin with the band. Also included is a dub of the First Transatlantic Broadcast Reception at RCA and the RCA Videodisc Kickoff, a celebration of RCA's Videodisc product, which also has a Digital Betacam version.
The History series includes videos that explore the history of television and RCA. “The History of RCA” also includes a detailed shot list for a portion of the program. There are also two photograph albums, one containing photographs of 30 Rockefeller Center from various viewpoints and another of waveforms and various equipment.
The Meetings series is made up of 1 Digital Betacam videocassette, the “RCA 64th Annual Meeting of Shareholders.”
The Popular Recordings series contains audio recordings produced by professional recording companies. Of note are phonograph recordings of the music composed by Richard Rogers from the program “Victory at Sea” which was made at NBC while David Sarnoff was President of the company.
The recordings in the Reference Materials series were collected for research purposes, presumably for their similarity to other RCA products.
The Nippon Television Network series consists of black and white photographs depicting the crowds that gathered to watch early color television demonstration broadcasts in Japan. All of the photographs show color television and color telemural projector demonstrations that took place in Tokyo during 1959. These demonstrations took place at train stations, parks, schools, temples, and stores. Although you cannot see what was on the screen the demonstrations predominantly broadcast wrestling and boxing matches but also the royal wedding and parade of Emperor Akihito.
Existence and Location of Copies
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives].
Access to Collection
Collection is open for research.
Film material is housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Film Cans 1-12). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.
Language of Materials
- RCA Corporation (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- RCA Corporation collection of television and company history photographs and audiovisual materials
- Lisa Kruczek
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- The collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant.