Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Early Broadcast Equipment

RCA 500-A Iconoscope Studio Camera

Geoffrey Bourne of St. Albans, WV, recently acquired one of the early studio cameras used by RCA before World War Two. The camera includes its original tripod, but not its original lens.

The camera has two chassis in it. One of them is the original video amplifier, using 6AC7 tubes.

The other is the blanking amplifier, apparently added at some point by RCA. It uses miniature tubes.

It looks identical to those used at the 1939 World's Fair for visitors to see themselves on television:

On the left is another picture of the camera in use. Notice the viewfinder on the side near the front. On the right is a closeup of the viewfinder on a similar camera.

After the war this camera was used at at experimental TV station in Charleston, WV. Gus Zaharis, one of the owners of AM radio station WTIP, applied for a construction permit for W8XGZ on January 17, 1946. The station was authorized for 100 watts power.

Zaharis, an exceptionally innovative broadcast engineer, was responsible for what may well have been the first 2 way telephone calls ever broadcast. He tied in to the C&P lines and took calls from listeners on an evening record request show Yours for the Asking. This venture was short lived since C&P quickly advised the station that the telephone tariffs then in effect did not permit the use of regular telephone lines for radio broadcasting. It was several years later that the familiar but now extinct "beeper" was used to indicate that a call was being recorded and/or broadcast.

Zaharis replaced the original lens with one that is recessed inside the camera.

This type of camera was also used by RCA as part of a traveling exhibit in 1939. Several NBC radio affiliates, including KDYL in Salt Lake City   and KSTP in Minneapolis-St. Paul were given studio equipment to experiment with.

Here are short film clips of the camera in a studio in a studio and outdoors courtesy of Dave Sica.

If you have any information on this camera, please contact Geoff at