Wednesday, July 21, 2004

It was an enjoyable surprise to read Ed Reitan's letter and finding that the history of the CBS sequential color effort, although ill fated, has been documented. And also to find that Frances Buss, whom I remember from the early Grand Central days is doing well in NorthCarolina. It brought back many memories as I started in the CBS Television Lab in 1941 and had some association with the early sequential color days. I wonder how many know that the symbol on the old CBS twenty year pin is the first sequential color Orthicon camera built in the Lab in 1941.It's most notable accomplishment, in addition to demonstrations, was to transmit color test pattern to the Chrysler transmitter. I am not aware of any receiver that had the capability to receive it but was transmitted five days a week. And I am sure that there are CBS retiree's who remember doing sequential color remotes in 1951 when the FCC had approved the CBS color system. The color equipment had to be lugged out of Studio 57 on a Friday evening after the day's operation and trucked to West Point, Annapolis or some other college. It was set up on Saturday morning to cover football and had to be reinstalled in the studio on Sunday. It was a back breaking Job and I can recall how happy we were when a call came through from Tommy Thompson while picking up the game at the University of Maryland, saying that color operations were being suspended because of the critical materials situation. Remember that huge 144 cycle converter that was required to power the color equipment on remotes; and those huge color monitors that required two people to lift and could not be moved when turned on because the color disk could fly apart. It was not fun. There was also a crew assigned to operate a sequential color camera at one of the major New York hospitals. I believe, if I recall correctly, Bob DeHart was the supervisor assigned to this operation.

And speaking of Frances Buss, how many remember Lela Swift? Lela had been one of Peter Goldmark's secretaries in the early 40's and in postwar became a TV director. I still have an apologetic 1943 letter from Lela to my mother after Goldmark took me to England, requesting payment for a fifty cent personal telephone call.

A great deal of television history occurred at CBS and it is nice to find that some of those who were part of it are still around - and that it has been recorded. Ed Reitan deserves a vote of thanks, and I for one, will be interested in reading about Frances Buss.

Bob Wilson