Early Television
Early Television
Early Television
Early Television
Early Television Early Television

Postwar American Television

Gene Nicholson

The following was sent to us by Ken Nicholson

My father, B. Eugene (Gene) Nicholson, worked his entire career as an electrical engineer with RCA Victor. Most of his 41 years were in their Broadcast Division, starting in January 1944 at their Camden, New Jersey facility.

As a young engineer he began working on the development of TV receivers. In 1946 his group was designing the “Model T” (630-TS); a 10”, 13 channel table model. This model was available as a kit. My father bought the kit, chassis and other parts piecemeal as they went on sale at the RCA Camden employee store. He arranged to get a “reject” kinescope from the RCA Lancaster PA factory for $10. (He had worked at the RCA Indianapolis tube factory during college at Purdue, so I assume that he had connections.) RCA never put the cabinet on sale at the employee store, so he ended up buying a Crosley cabinet for it, thereby saving a couple of dollars. (Apparently RCA had made the drawings available to Crosley (Cincinnati OH) although I do not know the details of the arrangement.) He built the set for about $100 and then took it into the RCA Camden facility where he was working and used his bench instruments to calibrate it. This was the first TV set that he owned and it moved with him from boarding house to apartment to his first home.

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I have this set. I also have an internal 1945 Schematic Diagram (blueprint) that I believe belong with it.

I also have a second example of his TV design work - RCA’s first portable TV set. This is an 8” set known as the “RCA Personal TV Receiver”. It was a marvel in its day and a study in compactness using tube technology, although it still weighs 22 pounds. In addition to his personal set, I have a Schematic Diagram from the development of the receiver, the factory Wiring Material List, a copy of the October-November, 1956 issue of RCA Engineer magazine (which has a detailed five page article with photographs on the development of the set) and the 1956 RCA Victor Service Data service notes (2nd edition).

I plan to donate these two sets to the Early Television Museum.

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Later in his career he was a lead engineer on the design team for the TKP-45, the first portable color TV camera and for RCA’s first CCD based broadcast quality TV camera. RCA’s Broadcast Division received an Emmy for the later achievement. In the last years of his career he was one of the engineering leaders in RCA’s development of LCD’s and flat panel displays.

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Gene Nicholson with the first CCD camera and Emmy Statue

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One of my father's retirement gifts - an illuminated clear plastic block with the RCA "Nipper" mascot, three of the actual CCD image sensors developed for the Emmy winning camera and a silhouette of the camera. The plaque reads, "RCA Glimpse of the Future - 1983 CCD RCAV"

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The Emmy Plate received by members of the design team