Magazine article American Cinematographer


Magazine article American Cinematographer


Article excerpt

Somewhere in the dim past of electronics, maybe fifty years ago, the thought of taking pictures, transmitting them, and then reassembling them on a receiver at another point was great material for science fiction. But fiction was becoming reality, because, in those days, engineers and scientists were already experimenting with the transmission of picture with sound. To the average man, though, it was still fiction. Radio had just come of age, and movies hadn't begun to talk, but television was being born.

A breakthrough came in 1929 when RCA showed its first crudely constructed receiver. But if you had asked the man on the street if he had seen "television", he would probably have looked at you curiously, then recalling, grin and tell you that sure he had; every Sunday in the Flash Gordon comic strip. Television was still relegated to the world of science fiction.

In 1930 Americans were going to the movies in greater numbers than ever, because of the new innovation: moving pictures with sound. But also in that year there was a select group that had the opposite: pictures with their sound. They had entered into the world of science fiction, because station W2XBS televised to those in New York who had receivers.

Things happened fast after that. In 1931 CBS went on the air with the first scheduled television programming, and by 1947 Americans were hooked to the tune of nearly 180,000 sets. Television was alive and growing at a tremendous rate, and to the dismay of some, it was rapidly replacing radio and the movies.

In those early days the creative, as well as the technical, operations were of necessity handled by the engineers and technicians, but it wasn't long before the skills of the artists were called upon. They came from the stage, from radio and from film, and television was elevated to being more than a novel toy.

Now television was truly an industry. But things were not yet complete, because, unlike the motion picture industry, television had no professional organization for the growing numbers of people it involved. So it was in the summer of 1945 that a young producer by the name of Syd Cassyd began to put together a group that would eventually become that organization. Fifteen months later, seven men held the first organizational meeting in a borrowed room of a television school on Hollywood Blvd. …

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