Postwar Television


Early Television

From Ted KIlliam:

This early teleprompter was left by my father, Paul Killiam.  He had a collection of silent movies, and produced the NET series The Silent Years beginning in 1971 (The first series was hosted by Orson Welles and the Second by Lillian Gish.)

At home, Dad couldn't stop his dramatic inclinations, and he produced many shows on stage and in cabaret style.  To pull these off with semi-pro talent, he acquired a prompting system of the kind invented by Hubert Schlafly in 1949 (!).  The system had 10 or 12 hollow, aluminum framed boxes containing an "endless" roll of paper with one inch type, displaying scripts as the paper wound from one roller to another, controlled by another, off-stage device and even by a computer in the later years.  He even had the typewriter used to make the paper rolls.  It is a bulky system and I remember the boxes needed frequent mechanical tinkering/repair to keep the electrically driven rollers working and synced with the controller. I guess this system was the transition from stage-front whisperers to the glass reflective concepts driven by computerized scripts that are used now.

A large-type typewriter was used to generate the script, and a controller kept the teleprompter in sync with the performer. Later a PC computer was used.

Thanks for Tim for donating the teleprompter to the museum.

Early Television

Early Television

The same prompter in use in 1971 or so at WCEE-TV (now WIFR) in Rockford, IL.  A simple paper roll with a hand held speed controller.  Bent brackets to hold it up.

Courtesy of Dave Abramson