more photos as seen in TV studios in the 1950's and '60's
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"Mr. Television" himself, Milton Berle, poses with a TK-41. Looks like Uncle Miltie is pretty excited about being seen in Living Color for the first time!



Another shot of Milton Berle at NBC


TK-40 assembly line, 1954. On the right rear of the camera body, the split, circular opening is an air vent for one of the image orthicon pickup tube. There are two additional vents on the rear of the camera.

Nanette Fabray sings in front of a prototype color camera, 1951. In late 1940's-early 50's, RCA was continuing to develop their color television camera (which eventually became the TK-40 introduced in 1953).Notice the script on the side of the camera says "RCA Television) (versus the TK-40/41 which had a "Color Television" script). Also, the camera is black (versus the silver colored TK-40/41), and there are no vents in the viewfinder on top of the camera. The TK-40/41 tapers to a narrower width at the front, where as this prototype has flat sides with no taper. I would speculate that the production camera used a silver color to reflect the heat which would have been absorbed by a black camera. After all, the early color cameras required a LOT of light - without plentiful air conditioning, the studios would be unbearably hot and the cameras would suffer performance problems from overheating. This would also explain the slotted vents which appeared in the TK-40A and TK-41 cameras.

The last incarnation of the TK-40/41 series was the TK-41C, seen here at the 1962 NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) convention. This photo is from the May 1962 issue of RCA Broadcast News.

"TK-41C color TV camera, standard of the industry. New features for 1962 include stabilized circuits for simplified operation, precision yokes for precise registration, and prism optics for sharp clear color pictures."



On the set of "Treasure Chest" at KSTP-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul - 1962


WCOV-TV 20 in Montgomery, Alabama


Reeves Television Tape Service Center, New York - 1962


Uh oh, a suitor waits in the wings! The TK-41 will soon be replaced by RCA's new TK-42 "M-channel" color camera. In addition to the three color (RGB) vidicon pickup tubes, the TK-42 adds an image orthicon monochrome fourth tube. Shown here is the TK-42X experimental camera and a TK-60 monochrome camera at the 1962 NAB convention.

"One of the first sights to greet visitors to the RCA exhibit was the operating live TV studio and an introduction to a new generation in broadcast equipment."



The production TK-42 color camera

(Webmaster note: my memory of this camera is that it produced inferior pictures to the TK-41. The images were noisy (grainy), and most irritatingly, the built-in zoom lens produced erratic zooming motion. The zoom was operated by a crank on the rear of the camera similar in appearance to the old turret handle on the TK-41. It must have been awkward for the operator to zoom with this type of control, and the mechanical cable connecting the zoom control handle to the lens was subject to binding, invariably creating jerky, chattering zooms.



Rear view of the TK-42.

Notice the infamous U-shaped lens controls on the back of the camera. Left handle is focus, right is for zoom motion. Chattering zoom motions plagued the TK-42 from the beginning. The TK-43 was basically the same as the TK-42, but with a new approach to zoom and focus controls. NBC chose not to install TK-42/43's in their network operations. NBC's old TK-41's continued to produce superior pictures into the early 1970's, partially due to modified low-noise transistorized pre-amps.



The RCA TK-44 (seen here at WTMJ-TV Milwaukee) was finally a worthy successor to the TK-41. The TK-44's plumbicon tubes produced rich, crisp, clean color images. NBC network facilities finally replaced their TK-41's with these excellent new cameras.

RCA's color camera lineup in 1967shows the oft-maligned TK-42 and 43 cameras and a pre-production mockup of the far superior TK-44.


RCA's broadcast equipment line in 1967 shows a mockup of a pre-production TK-44 camera in the foreground.


Thanks to Chuck Pharis, Rich Whitley, NBC, Dale Walsh, Jan Kasoff, Ed Ellers, Barry Mishkind, Lytle Hoover, Tom Kredatus, Chuck Young, and Robert Ingram for some of the photos.

Special thanks to Charles Phoenix for the slides from his collection of the 1958 Rose Parade
check out his God Bless Americana site

Do you have TK-41 photos to share? Please contact me


comments? send me an email


Visit my Color Television Home Page

Learn more about the Color Television Revolution

See videos of the original NBC peacocks and ABC and CBS color presentation logos

See photos from my boyhood tour of KARD-TV in 1964

See photos of NBC Color City Studios in Burbank, California in 1955

See photos of my TK- 41 color television camera

Take a tour of KSTP-TV in 1962 and see my TK-41 camera in service when it was new

See an RCA 2" Color Television Tape Recorder

See a video montage of an historic demonstration of the RCA compatible color system to the FCC

See an excellent 1953 RCA brochure about the development of Color Television

See a video of one of NBC's FIRST shows recorded on videotape in "Living Color" in 1958

See excerpts of the oldest surviving black and white Video Tape - "The Edsel Show" - October 1957

The free Quicktime 6 (or later) Player must be installed on your computer to view videos


Want to read more about early color television? Check out these links:

Read NPR's coverage of color TV's 50th anniversary

visit Ed Reitan's website - a very informative site about early color TV

visit Chuck Pharis's site to see his collection of antique TV cameras and other early broadcast equipment

visit Barry Mishkind's website to see the RCA Television Equipment Archive

visit Steve Dichter's CT-100 website


King of the Road Home Page
Click the 1958 Cadillac to check out my King of the Road Home Page
and see my classic cars.

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