(Worldwide Wireless logo included in a Radio Corporation of America advertisement that appeared on page 4 of the August 1921 issue of “The Wireless Age Magazine. – credit: The Wireless Age)
“The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric (GE); however, in 1932 GE was required to divest its control as part of the settlement of an antitrust suit.
At its height as an independent company RCA was the dominant communications firm in the United States. Beginning in the 1920s it was a major manufacturer of radio receivers, and also developed the first national radio network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). It had a leading role in the introduction of black-and-white television in the 1940s and 1950s, and color television in the 1950s and 1960s. During this time the company was closely identified with the leadership of David Sarnoff, who was general manager at its founding, became company president in 1930, and remained active, as chairman of the board, until the end of 1969.” (Wikipedia)
(Two RCA brand vacuum tube cartons, displaying the first and second versions of the RCA logo – credit: Tpdwkouaa)
RCA originated as a reorganization of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America (commonly called “American Marconi”). In 1897, the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, Limited, was founded in London to promote the radio (then known as “wireless telegraphy”) inventions of Guglielmo Marconi. As part of a worldwide expansion, in 1899 American Marconi was organized as a subsidiary company, holding the rights to the use the Marconi patents in the United States and Cuba. In 1912 it took over the assets of the bankrupt United Wireless Telegraph Company, and from that point forward it had been the dominant radio communications company in the United States. (Wikipedia)
(An advertisement for the Radio Corporation of America – The Wireless Age)
“The introduction of organized radio broadcasting in the early 1920s resulted in a dramatic reorientation and expansion of RCA’s business activities. The development of vacuum tube radio transmitters made audio transmissions practical, in contrast with the earlier transmitters which were limited to sending Morse code. Since at least 1916, when he was still at American Marconi, David Sarnoff had proposed establishing broadcasting stations, but his memos to management promoting the idea for sales of a “Radio Music Box” had not been followed up at the time.
Starting around 1920 a small number of broadcasting stations began operating, and soon interest in the innovation was spreading nationwide.” (Wikipedia)
(Studio of RCA’s first broadcasting station, the short-lived WDY, located at its plant in Roselle Park, New Jersey 1922 – credit: February 1922 issue of Wireless Age)
“The rise of radio broadcasting during the early 1920s, which provided unlimited free home entertainment, caused significant financial problems throughout the established phonograph record industry. In 1929, RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, then the world’s largest manufacturer of both records and phonograph players, including its showcase “Victrola” line. This acquisition was organized as a new subsidiary called RCA Victor, and included majority ownership of the Victor Company of Japan (JVC).” (Wikipedia)
(“His Master’s Voice” – credit: Billy Hathorn)
“With this purchase, RCA acquired the western hemisphere rights to use the dog Nipper “His Master’s Voice” trademark. RCA Victor developed combined radio receiver-phonographs and also created RCA Photophone, a movie sound-on-film system that competed with William Fox’s sound-on-film Movietone and Warner Bros.’ sound-on-disc Vitaphone. The acquisition of Victor also gave RCA superior distribution and manufacturing capability through its extensive network of authorized dealers and newly acquired factories in Camden, New Jersey, which began manufacturing radios in addition to Victrolas and records.
RCA began selling the first all electric phonograph in 1930. In 1931, RCA Victor introduced 33⅓ revolutions-per-minute (rpm) records, which were a commercial failure at the height of the Great Depression, partly because the records and playback equipment were expensive, and also because the audio performance was poor; the new format used the same groove size as existing 78 rpm records, and it would require the smaller-radius stylus of the later microgroove systems to achieve acceptable slower-speed performance.
In 1932, RCA introduced the inexpensive Duo Jr. turntable designed to be plugged into radios. Also during the 1930s, RCA sold the modernistic RCA Victor M Special, a polished aluminum portable record player designed by John Vassos that has become an icon of Thirties American industrial design. In 1949, RCA Victor released the first 45 rpm “single” records, as a response to CBS/Columbia‘s successful introduction of its microgroove 33⅓ rpm “LP” format. RCA Victor began selling 33⅓ rpm LP records in 1950, and in 1951 CBS/Columbia began selling 45 rpm records.” (Wikipedia)
“Following years of industry complaints that the cross-licensing agreements between RCA, GE and Westinghouse had in effect created spheres-of-influence for the participating companies, resulting in illegal monopolies, in 1930 the U.S. Department of Justice brought antitrust charges against the three companies. In 1932 they accepted a consent agreement which removed the restrictions established by the cross-licensing agreements, and also provided that RCA would become a fully independent company. As a result, GE and Westinghouse gave up their ownership interests in RCA, while RCA was allowed to keep its factories. In order to give RCA a chance to establish itself, GE and Westinghouse were required to refrain from competing in the radio business for the next two and one-half years.” (Wikipedia)
“RCA began TV development in early 1929, after an overly optimistic Vladimir K. Zworykin convinced Sarnoff that a commercial version of his prototype system could be produced in a relatively short time for $100,000. Following what would actually be many years of additional research and millions of dollars, RCA demonstrated an all-electronic black-and-white television system at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. RCA began regular experimental television broadcasting from the NBC studios to the New York metropolitan area on April 30, 1939 via station W2XBS, channel 1 (which evolved into WNBC channel 4) from a transmitter atop the Empire State Building. At the same time, RCA began selling its first television set models in various New York stores. However, the FCC had not approved the start of commercial television operations, because technical standards had not been yet been finalized. Concerned that RCA’s broadcasts were an attempt to flood the market with sets that would force it to adopt RCA’s current technology, the FCC stepped in to limit its broadcasts.
Following the adoption of National Television System Committee (NTSC) recommended standards, the FCC authorized the start of commercial television broadcasts on July 1, 1941. The entry of the United States into World War II a few months later greatly slowed its deployment, but RCA resumed selling television receivers almost immediately after the war ended in 1945. (See also: History of television)”
(CT-100 at the American Museum of Radio And Electricity playing Superman – credit: HumanisticRationale)
(Vintage RCA advertisement)
“In 1950, the FCC adopted a standard for color television that had been promoted by CBS, but the effort soon failed, primarily because the color broadcasts could not be received by existing black-and-white sets. As the result of a major research push, RCA engineers developed a method of “compatible” color transmissions that, through the use of interlacing, simultaneously broadcast color and black-and-white images, which could be picked up by both color and existing black-and-white sets. In 1953, RCA’s all-electronic color TV technology was adopted as the standard for American television. At that time, Sarnoff predicted annual color TV sales would reach 1.78 million in 1956, but the sets were expensive and difficult to adjust, and there was initially a lack of color programming, so sales lagged badly and the actual 1956 total would only be 120,000. RCA’s ownership of NBC proved to be a major benefit, as that network was instructed to promote its color programming offerings; even so, it was only in 1968 that color TV sales in the U.S. surpassed black-and-white.” (Wikipedia)
(RCA ad – credit: Radio Corporation of America, Radio City, New York City, NY)
Radio Corporation of America (RCA Victor, National Broadcasting Company) advertisement for the beginning of regular experimental television broadcasting from the NBC studios to the New York metropolitan area on April 30, 1939 for “an hour at a time, twice a week.”
June, 1939 (advertisement); March 16, 2014 (Digital Image) – (Original text: ””Radio & Television” (magazine) Vol. X, No. 2, June, 1939. (inside front cover) New York: Popular Book Corporation – “The Cooper Collections ” (uploader’s private collection) – Digitized by Centpacrr)
(Time magazine ad from RCA, published 15 February 1954, depicting General David Sarnoff, Chairman of the Board, with the first videotape and recorder, 1954. – credit: RCA)
“In 1941, a few months before the United States entered World War II, the cornerstone was laid for a research and development facility in Princeton, New Jersey called RCA Laboratories. Led for many years by Elmer Engstrom, it was used to develop many innovations, including color television, the electron microscope, CMOS-based technology, heterojunction physics, optoelectronic emitting devices, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), videocassette recorders, direct broadcast television, direct broadcast satellite systems and high-definition television.” (Wikipedia)
(RCA Television Quad head 2″ color recorder/ reproducer used at broadcast studios in the late 1960s, 70s and early 80s – credit: Stahlkocher)
“RCA antique radios, and early color television receivers such as the RCA Merrill/CT-100, are among the more sought-after collectible radios and televisions, due to their popularity during the golden age of radio and the historic significance of the RCA name, as well as their styling, manufacturing quality and engineering innovations. Most collectable are the pre-war television sets manufactured by RCA beginning in 1939, including the TRK-5, TRK-9 and TRK-12 models.
The historic RCA Victor Building 17, the “Nipper Building“, in Camden, New Jersey, was converted to luxury apartments in 2003.”
(The historic RCA Building 17 is one of the few remaining buildings in Camden, New Jersey that once housed the vast RCA Victor complex. – credit: Smallbones)
(A type of plug/jack combination used in audio and video cables is still called the RCA connector.)
(RCA Pavilion 1964 New York World’s Fair – credit: Doug Coldwell)
(1959 RCA Victor Dual Speaker Filteramic Tube Radio – credit: Roadsidepictures)
“In 1986 RCA was reacquired by General Electric, which over the next few years liquidated most of RCA’s assets. The RCA trademarks are currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Technicolor, which in turn license the brand name to other companies.” (Wikipedia)
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