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PR-ES-10 5-39

RCA and NBC Present


October 17, 1939



STATION W2XBS (Audio frequency -- 45.25 mc) NEW YORK CITY
(Video frequency -- 49.75 mc)

SUNDAY (October 22) 2:30 p.m. - Football game, Brooklyn Dodgers vs.
                                Philadelphia Eagles, Ebbets Field.

WEDNESDAY (October 25) 2:30 p.m.  - To be announced.
                               2:45       - film, "The Lost"
                       2:55       - film serial, "The Lost Jungle"
                                    Episode X
                       3:05       - film, " Midsummer In Sweden"
                       3:15       - To be announced.
                       8:30-9:30  - Variety Hour, John Frederick, hat
                                    designer; Debut Hour with Allen
                                    Prescott, Better Vision Institute 

 THURSDAY (October 26) 2:30-3:30 - Mobile Unit pickup.
                               8:30-9:30 - Feature film, "The Mutiny on the

 FRIDAY (October 27)    2:30-3:30 - Feature film, "Pilot X"
                                8:30-9:30 - "The Fortune Hunter," by Winchell
                                                Smith,with Gloria Blondell, Douglas 
                                    Gilmore and Percy Kilbride.

 SATURDAY (October 28)  2:30-3:30 - "America In the Air" - The progress 
                                    of aviation. Second in a series on 
                                    aviation and air travel.
                                9:00-10:00 - Boxing matches, Ridgewood Grove 
                                     Arena, Ridgewood.

- - -


PR-ES-I0 5-39

RCA and NBC Present

October 17, 1939


 New York Signal Is Picked Up 21,600 Feet Over Capital With Ordinary Receiver

Television in the substratosphere, more than four miles above Washington, D.C., made history today when the Radio Corporation of America and the United Air Lines cooperated in successful reception of images broadcast from New York more than 200 miles to the north. The experiment marked the  twentieth anniversary of the founding of RCA.

Flying over the nation's capital at an altitude of 21,600 feet, engineers of RCA and the National Broadcasting Company tuned in Station W2XBS in New York. At the appointed the image of Herluf Provensen, NBC announcer, appeared on the screen. Those of David Sarnoff, president of the Radio Corporation of America, and W.A. Patterson, president of United Air Lines, appeared shortly thereafter.

By means of two-way radio communication, members of the party making the flight were able to talk with Mr. Sarnoff and Mr. Patterson in the studio at Radio City. In response to a request from a photographer in the plane, Mr. Sarnoff held a post for a picture off the Iconoscope screen of the receiver. (Editors note  should this be 'pose' not post?)

As the plane soared above the 16,000-foot level, representatives of United Air Lines supplied each of the group, consisting mainly of York newspapermen, with tubes through which they could breathe in enough oxygen to offset the effects of the high altitude. As the television images continued to appear on the screen of the receiver, the windows of the plane frosted over. The outside temperature was registered at about ten degrees Fahrenheit.



The photographs made over Washington probably recorded the all time long distance record for photography. Sarnoff and Patterson and Provensen were more than 200 miles distant at the time. Pictures were made by Sidney Desfor, of the National Broadcasting Company photo staff. The most thrilling moment of the television flight came on the return from Washington, A few minutes out of North Beach Airport the motion picture transmission suddenly stopped and in its stead there appeared the image of the approaching plane circling the new airport. "There 'we are!" cried the passengers. The television cameras followed the ship until it touched the earth and taxied up to the runway to a stop.

The images, as seen in the plane, were comparable to those received in the primary service area of the NBC station, which reaches out fifty miles in all directions from midtown Manhattan. Frequently, however, they suffered from interference of other electrical equipment in the plane, including the radio transmitter and ignition apparatus for the ship's two motors.

Ralph Holmes, RCA engineer, and W.A.R. Brown, NBC engineer, explained that the intensity of the signal at 200 miles distance from the transmitter was low, and that interference, however slight, had serious results in impairing image quality. On the return trip, approaching New York City, where the signal became strong, motion picture transmissions and the landing of the plane itself at North Beach Airport were in sharp focus.

Today's experiment, employing the transmission equipment of the National Broadcasting Company, bore out the theory that the ultra-short waves used in television travel in comparatively straight lines. In order to receive the telecast over Washington, D.C., the United plane was forced to rise above the 16,000-foot altitude level.

( more )


Television engineers had previously established that the ultra-short wave's utility was over an area roughly limited by the visual horizon.

The receiver was a standard model now being sold in New York.

The only change made in it was a slight adjustment in the automatic volume control to compensate against the whirling propellers. These, according to engineers, acted as reflectors, causing extremely rapid variations in the intensity of the received signal. The antenna used was a simple dipole type, consisting of two wires strung under the fuselage of the ship. The connection to the receiver was made through the fuselage.

When the plane landed at Washington, representatives of the Army and Navy departments, the Federal Communications Commission and Civil Aeronautics Authority, as well as several newspapermen, were taken up to witness a repeat of the unusual experiment.


- - -


PR-ES-10 5-39

RCA and NBC Present

October 17, 1939 


A half-million dollars worth of rare furs, including the only two Belvedere furs in the world, which have been collected by 1. J. Fox, will be televised by the National Broadcasting Company over Station W2XBS on Friday, Oct. 20, at 2:30 p.m.

Max Bachrach, an authority on furs, will act as commentator. He also will answer questions posed by Lynne Lorayne, fashion editor of the New York Journal American. Among the costly furs to be shown are a russian sable coat valued at $25,000, an albino beaver, silver foxes and other rare pelts.

The Belvedere furs, costing $4,000 a pair, were developed more than 12 years experimentation in cross-breeding silver and white foxes.

- - -


Thirty-seven years of automotive pioneering will be spanned by NBC Television on Thursday, Oct. 19, when an automobile review at the Ford Exhibit at the New York World's Fair is televised over Station W2XBS from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

A progression of autos, from the first gas-buggy built in 1903, to the stream-lined production of today, will pass before the television cameras. All of the cars, which have been taken from the Ford Exhibit, will operate under their own power, with drivers garbed in the costume of the era of their vehicles.

- - -


National Broadcasting Company
RCA Building, Radio City, N. Y.

October 17, 1939


Task of Preparing Handbook
Now Nearing Completion

Our archaic system of spelling, which dates back to Shakespeare's day, will be "translated" into the vowels and consonants actually used in modern English speech by means of a phonetic typewriter just completed for the National Broadcasting Company.

The machine, an ordinary typewriter except for the fact that it has 90 strange symbols on its type bars, was made under the direction of Dr. James F. Bender, chairman of the department of speech at Queens College, Flushing, L.I., and director of information for the American Speech Correction Association. It was built by the L.C. Smith Company in order that a legible manuscript could be prepared for NBC's forthcoming "Handbook for Announcers and Speakers," of which Dr. Bender is editor. It also may be used in preparing scripts for broadcasts which contain unusual technical phrases, foreign place names, etc. 

"A phonetic alphabet has become an absolute necessity when dealing with English and American pronunciation because our spelling has become outmoded," says Dr. Bender. "In other words, while spelling has changed very little in 300 years, pronunciation has undergone several decided shifts.

"Then too, our system of spelling is non-phonetic. For example, we may turn to the morning paper and read at random such words as father, ball, hat, made and ask. Although all these words have a common letter (a), that letter represents a different sound in each word.



Only by using the recently developed International Phonetic Alphabet can we represent these differences and set up a definite standard of pronunciation for radio." The NBC Handbook, which is nearing completion after three years of study and preparation, will contain a foreword explaining what NBC considers the basic requirements of good radio addresses, and introductory chapters by Dr. Bender on such things as the principles of radio speech and proper introductions, as compiled from a manual published by the Division of Protocol in Washington.

The body of the book is to consist of a list of 15,000 words frequently mispronounced or misused. Ten thousand of these were gathered by NBC from Lawrence Abbott, assistant to Walter Damrosch in the music department; Patrick J. Kelly, NBC supervisor of announcers, and Noran E. Kersta in Television.

The rest were supplied to Dr. Bender by the secretaries of various embassies and legations in Washington, and by the Associated Press, United Press Association and International News Service. These are international in scope, due to the constantly shifting news developments abroad. All words in the handbook list will be printed in three ways: as ordinarily spelled, syllabized with pronunciation marks found in most school grammars, and in the International Phonetic Alphabet. "It was decided to use phonetic transcriptions because they are most satisfactory for the student of pronunciation," says Dr. Bender. "Also, they will appeal to teachers and students of speech throughout the country, since phonetics is rapidly becoming the main vehicle for speech improvement."




nbc microwave 1939 station in 2 remote  trucks.jpg (210641 bytes)

N.B.C.'s 'mobile unit' is a complete television station in two trucks

Otto Hagel


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