Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Mechanical Television

Bell Labs Two-Way Television

In 1927 Bell Labs began experimenting with two way television (picturephone). They built a large screen TV set using a specially designed neon lamp with 2500 individual anodes, arranged in 50 rows of 50 anodes..This set was used to televise Herbert Hoover in a demonstration in April of 1927. This was accomplished both by wire and by radio on experimental station 3XN from Whippany, N. J., 22 miles from New York, to the Bell Laboratories building in New York City where the speakers and performers were readily recognized on the receiving screen. The voices of the persons at Whippany were transmitted, and reproduced by means of a loudspeaker

Matrix Screen Receiver
Color TV
1927 booklet - Television
1930 booklet - Two Way Televisiont
Bell Labs pictures from Bob Eilenberger's collection
Radiovision Demonstrated in America - Radio News, June 1927
Television Out-of-Doors - Radio News, September 1928
Talk, Hear, See on this Phone - Popular Science, July 1930
Two Way Television Improvements are Sought - Popular Mechanics, May 1931

Herbert Hoover

A diagram showing how the telephone-television system worked

Pictures of the equipment

The front of the set


The top of the disk, showing the neon tube box

The neon tube

The motor/generator and rear of the disk

Between the motor and the disk is a switch box of some sort, apparently used in synchronization

 (Thanks to Igor Golioto of Bell Laboratories Lucent Technologies for these photos)

Courtesy of Gabe Bennett

Bell Telephone Television Telephone Demonstrations

These documents describe a collaboration between Bell Laboratories and the New York Telephone Company in February 1931. The documents include an invitation and 2 tickets from New York  Telephone Company to a very successful NYC Banker Mr. Howard P. Maeder for a demonstration of the emerging TV telephone booth service. The man brought his wife, son and daughter (?) along. The ladies went to the Bell Labs office at 55 Bethune Street and the men went to the Telephone Co. office at 195 Broadway, two miles apart. The teleconference allowed them to speak and see each others' heads on a TV screen.




Another telephone-television demonstration in Detroit - June 25, 1932