Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Early Electronic Television

RCA Pre-1945 Theatre Television Systems

The first practical demonstration of large screen television was made by RCA to the Society of Motion Picture Engineers in 1939. the screen was approximately 3 x 4 ft.


RCA Radio News Article
1,000,000 Ringside Seats


A scene from the first RCA demonstration of large screen television

Later that year RCA built a projection system that produced an excellent picture on a 9 by 12 foot screen. In December of 1940, a system was installed in the New Yorker Theater on Times Square, and operated it for nearly a year. During this time, the results were viewed by leaders of the motion picture industry, high government officials and press representatives.

The programs ranged from studio presentations at Radio City to boxing matches via coaxial cable from Madison Square Garden, wrestling via high frequency relay from Jamaica, New York, and even parade ground maneuvers at Camp Upton, 60 miles away, via three radio relay repeaters.

On May 9, 1941, an especially ambitious program was attempted. A full evening program was scheduled for an invited audience of leaders of government, industry, press and the public, which filled the 1600 seat house to overflowing.


1939 experimental projector. Schematic diagram.

1941 projector. Schematic diagram.

The control console

Test pattern on 15 x 20 foot screen

Diagram of the 1941 projector

Program presented at the New York Theatre May 9, 1941

Radio & Television, July 1941


Popular Mechanics, September 1941

Another system, for 4 x 6 foot screens, was introduced in 1940

Radio & Television, July 1940

Service, May 1940

Poular Mechanics, October 1940

A home projection system from 1944