Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Early Television Stations



Mechanical Television

W2XAB began transmission in 1931 using equipment furnished by RCA. Their inaugural broadcast was on July 21, 1931. The camera was a 60 line flying spot scanner, and the receivers operated in the 2-3 mHz band, where reception was possible over long distances.

Article in the AWA Journal by Richard Brewster
Radio World 1932 article
Article in the Cincinnati Radio Dial
Television and Sound - Radio News, November 1932
Natalie Towers, Columbia's Television Girl

The transmitter and the Supervisor's desk.

The W2XAB studio, showing the photocells and a microphone. The scanner is in a separate room behind the hole in the middle of the photocells.


The camera, with Natalie Towers in front of it.

Everyday Science and Mechanics, November 1931

Glass photographic plate from about 1931


Electronic Television

In 1937 the station began broadcasting electronic TV on channel 3 as W2XAX.. In 1941 the call sign was changed to WCBW, and after the war, it became WCBS. A transmitter and antenna were put on the Chrysler Building in Manhattan, while the studios were located in the Grand Central building.

Program schedules
The W2XAX Television Transmitter
CBS Screens Out Electrical "Bugs"
What Television Means to You - Radio News, May 1938
Television in New York - Radio News, January 1939
CBS Transmitter Installation

Radio World, November 1937

Broadcasting, February 15 1938

Broadcasting, November 15 1939

Broadcasting, April1 1 1939


Worthington Miner, left, directing. Notice the huge number of fluorescent lights directly over the set

Courtesy of Steve Dichter 

The control room in 1941 control room, with pioneer CBS director Worthington Miner, center, at the microphone

Courtesy of Steve Dichter

First U.S. broadcast of a jazz group on W2XAB (1939)

Radio & Television Magazine, April, 1940


Radio & Television Magazine, April, 1940


Radio & Television, July 1941


New York Times, January 10, 1942

Courtesy of John Pinckney


Program schedule for Jan. 29, 1942

Television programs of the Columbia Broadcasting System go on the air Thursdays over WCBW on channel 2. Test patterns from 7:30 to 8 o'clock are followed by films until 10 P.M. This schedule will be continued indefinitely, according to director Worthington Miner, as long as the available materials and manpower hold out. Technical manpower shortages, he said, are the most pressing need and will determine WCBW's future.

For those who have home television receivers not in operating condition, the service outlook is "something less than bright." Skilled men are not available to "fix" ailing sets; neither are replacement materials. It is therefore estimated that the 1,000 to 2,000 receivers now inoperative in this area are likely to remain so indefinitely. This is the only "bad" news current in television circles.

New York Times, October 17, 1943

CBS studio, 1944

CBS studio, 1944