RCA CORPORATION was a major American electronics company, which
was founded as the RADIO CORPORATION OF AMERICA in 1919. It was
initially a wholly owned subsidiary of
General Electric (GE); however,
in 1932 GE was required to divest its control as part of the
settlement of an antitrust suit.
At its height as an independent company
RCA was the dominant
communications firm in the United States. Beginning in the 1920s it
was a major manufacturer of radio receivers, and also developed the
first national radio network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
It had a leading role in the introduction of black-and-white
television in the 1940s and 1950s, and color television in the 1950s
and 1960s. During this time the company was closely identified with
the leadership of
David Sarnoff , who was general manager at its
founding, became company president in 1930, and remained active, as
chairman of the board, until the end of 1969.
In the 1970s
RCA began to falter, suffering major loses in the
mainframe computer industry and other failed projects such as the CED
videodisc . In 1986 it was reacquired by General Electric, which over
the next few years liquidated most of RCA's assets. The
are currently owned by
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment and Technicolor ,
which in turn license the brand name to other companies including Voxx
International , Curtis International, and
TCL Corporation for their
* 1 Establishment by
* 2.1 International and marine communication
* 2.2 Broadcasting
* 2.3 National Broadcasting Company
* 5 Motion pictures
* 6 Separation from
* 8 Diversification
* 9 Later years
* 10 Re-acquisition and break-up by
* 11 Legacy
* 11.1 Environmental issues
* 12 Photo gallery
* 13 See also
* 14 References
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
ESTABLISHMENT BY GENERAL ELECTRIC
Company logo in 1921 stressed its leadership in international
RCA originated as a reorganization of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph
Company of America (commonly called "American Marconi"). In 1897, the
Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, Limited, was founded in London
to promote the radio (then known as "wireless telegraphy") inventions
Guglielmo Marconi . As part of a worldwide expansion, in 1899
American Marconi was organized as a subsidiary company, holding the
rights to the use the Marconi patents in the
United States and Cuba.
In 1912 it took over the assets of the bankrupt United Wireless
Telegraph Company , and from that point forward it had been the
dominant radio communications company in the United States.
With the entry of the
United States into World War One in April 1917,
most civilian radio stations were taken over by government, to be used
for the war effort. Although the overall U.S. government plan was to
restore civilian ownership of the seized radio stations once the war
ended, many Navy officials hoped to retain a monopoly on radio
communication even after the war. Defying instructions to the
contrary, the Navy began purchasing large numbers of stations
outright. With the conclusion of the conflict, Congress turned down
the Navy's efforts to have peacetime control of the radio industry,
and instructed the Navy to make plans to return the commercial
stations it controlled, including the ones it had improperly
purchased, to the original owners.
Due to national security considerations, the Navy was particularly
concerned about returning the high-powered international stations to
American Marconi, since a majority of its stock was in foreign hands,
and the British already largely controlled the international undersea
cables. This concern was increased by the announcement in late 1918 of
the formation of the Pan-American Wireless Telegraph and Telephone
Company, a joint venture between American Marconi and the Federal
Telegraph Company, with plans to set up service between the United
States and South America. Two vacuum tube cartons, displaying
different generations of the
The Navy had installed a high-powered
Alexanderson alternator , built
General Electric (GE), at the American Marconi transmitter site in
New Brunswick, New Jersey. It proved to be superior for transatlantic
transmissions to the spark transmitters that had been traditionally
used by the Marconi companies. Marconi officials were so impressed by
the capabilities of the Alexanderson alternators that they began
making preparations to adopt them as their standard transmitters for
international communication. A tentative plan made with General
Electric proposed that over a two-year period the Marconi companies
would purchase most of GE's alternator production. However, this
proposal was met with disapproval, on national security grounds, by
the U.S. Navy, which was concerned that this would guarantee British
domination of international radio communication.
The Navy, claiming it was acting with the support of President
Wilson, looked for an alternative that would result in an
"all-American" company taking over the American Marconi assets. In
April 1919 two naval officers, Admiral H. G. Bullard and Commander S.
C. Hooper , met with GE's president,
Owen D. Young , asking that he
suspend the pending alternator sales to the Marconi companies. This
General Electric without a buyer for its transmitters, so
the officers proposed that GE purchase American Marconi, and use the
assets to form its own radio communications subsidiary. Young
consented to this proposal, which, effective November 20, 1919,
transformed American Marconi into the
Radio Corporation of America.
The new company was promoted as being a patriotic gesture. RCA's
incorporation papers required that its officers needed to be U.S.
citizens, with a majority of its stock held by Americans.
RCA retained most of the American Marconi staff, although Owen Young
became the new company's head as the chairman of the board. Former
American Marconi vice president and general manager E. J. Nally become
RCA's first president. Nally's term ended on December 31, 1922, and he
was succeeded the next day by Major General James G. Harbord . Harbord
in turn resigned the presidency on January 3, 1930, replacing Owen D.
Young as the company's chairman of the board. He was succeeded, as
RCA's third president, by David Sarnoff, who had been the company's
general manager at its founding.
RCA worked closely with the federal
government, and felt it deserved to maintain its predominant role in
U.S. radio communications. At the company's recommendation, President
Woodrow Wilson appointed Rear Admiral Bullard "to attend the
stockholders' and director's meetings... in order that he may present
and discuss informally the Government's views and interests".
As of its founding
RCA was the largest radio communications firm in
the United States. However, American Marconi had been falling behind
industry advances, particularly in vacuum tube technology, and GE
needed access to additional patents before its new subsidiary could be
fully competitive. The result was a series of negotiations and a
complicated set of cross-licensing agreements between various
companies. On July 1, 1920, an agreement was made with the American
Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), which purchased 500,000 shares
of RCA, although it would divest these shares in early 1923. The
United Fruit Company held a small portfolio of radio patents, and
signed two agreements in 1921. GE's traditional electric company
rival, the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Corporation , had
also purchased rights to some critical patents, including one for
heterodyne receiving originally issued to
Reginald Fessenden , plus
regenerative circuit and superheterodyne receiver patents issued to
Edwin Armstrong . Westinghouse was able to use this to negotiate a
cross-licensing agreement, effective July 1, 1921, that included a
concession that 40% of RCA's equipment purchases would be from
Westinghouse. Following these transactions, GE owned 30.1% of RCA's
stock, Westinghouse 20.6%, AT"> Illustration of how a fully built
Radio Central facility at Rocky Point, Long Island, New York would
have appeared. Only two of the twelve "antenna spokes" were actually
RCA Satcom K1 geostationary communications satellite
Space Shuttle Columbia (1986)
RCA's primary business objectives at its founding were to provide
equipment and services for seagoing vessels, and "worldwide wireless"
communication in competition with the undersea cables. To provide the
international service, the company soon undertook a massive project to
build a "
Radio Central" communications hub at Rocky Point, Long
Island, New York, designed to achieve "the realization of the vision
of communication engineers to transmit messages to all points of the
world from a single centrally located source". The circular Radio
Central site encompassed 10 square miles (25 square kilometers), with
a transmission building, located at the hub, projected to ultimately
Alexanderson alternator transmitters. The plan called for 12
"antenna spokes" to be built, stretching out in all directions from
the center. Each spoke was nearly nearly three miles (4.8 kilometers)
long, and consisted of sixteen wires supported by a line of six
410-foot-tall (125 meter) towers topped with 150-foot-wide (45 meter)
crossbars. Construction began in July 1920, and the site was dedicated
on November 5, 1921, after two of the antenna spokes had been
completed, and two of the 200-kilowatt alternators installed. The
debut transmissions received replies from stations in 17 countries.
Although the initial installation would remain in operation, the
additional antenna spokes and alternator installations would not be
completed, due to a major discovery about radio signal propagation.
While investigating transmitter "harmonics" – unwanted additional
radio signals produced at higher frequencies than a station's normal
transmission frequency – Westinghouse's
Frank Conrad unexpectedly
found that in some cases the harmonics could be heard farther than the
primary signal, something previously thought impossible, as
high-frequency shortwave signals, which had poor groundwave coverage,
were thought to have a very limited transmission range. In 1924,
Conrad demonstrated to Sarnoff that a low-powered shortwave station in
East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could be readily received in London by a
simple receiver using a curtain rod as an antenna, matching, at a
small fraction of the cost, the performance of the massive alternator
transmitters. In 1926 Dr. Harold H. Beverage further reported that a
shortwave signal, transmitted on a 15-meter wavelength (approximately
20 MHz), was received in South America more readily during the daytime
than the 200 kilowatt alternator transmissions.
The Alexanderson alternators, control of which had led to RCA's
formation, were now considered obsolete, and international
communication would be primarily conducted using vacuum tube
transmitters operating on shortwave bands.
RCA would continue to
operate international telecommunications services for the remainder of
its existence, through its subsidiary
RCA Communications, Inc., and
RCA Global Communications Company.
International shortwave was in turn largely supplanted by
communications satellites, especially for distributing network radio
and television programming. In 1975, the company formed
Communications , which operated its Satcom series of geostationary
Advertisement promoting theater attendance to hear the ringside
commentary broadcast by RCA's temporary station, WJY (1921)
Studio of RCA's first broadcasting station, the short-lived WDY,
located at its plant in Roselle Park, New Jersey (1922) The
June 1, 1922 cover of RCA's equipment catalog showcased the emerging
The introduction of organized radio broadcasting in the early 1920s
resulted in a dramatic reorientation and expansion of RCA's business
activities. The development of vacuum tube radio transmitters made
audio transmissions practical, in contrast with the earlier
transmitters which were limited to sending the dits-and-dahs of Morse
code . Since at least 1916, when he was still at American Marconi,
David Sarnoff had proposed establishing broadcasting stations, but his
memos to management promoting the idea for sales of a "
Box" had not been followed up at the time.
Starting around 1920 a small number of broadcasting stations began
operating, and soon interest in the innovation was spreading
nationwide. In the summer of 1921, a Madison Square Garden employee,
Julius Hopp, devised a plan to raise charitable funds by broadcasting,
from ringside, the July 2, 1921 Dempsey-Carpentier heavyweight
championship fight to be held in Jersey City, New Jersey. Hopp
recruited theaters and halls as listening locations that would charge
admission fees to be used as charitable donations. He also contacted
RCA's J. Andrew White, the acting president of the National Amateur
Wireless Association (NAWA), an organization originally formed by
American Marconi which had been inherited by RCA. White agreed to
recruit the NAWA membership for volunteers to provide assistance at
the listening sites, and also enlisted
David Sarnoff for financial and
RCA was authorized to set up a temporary longwave
radio station, located in Hoboken a short distance from the match
site, and operating under the call letters WJY . For the broadcast
White and Sarnoff telephoned commentary from ringside, which was typed
up and then read over the air by J. Owen Smith. The demonstration was
a technical success, with a claimed audience of 300,000 listeners
throughout the northeast.
RCA quickly moved to expand its broadcasting activities. In the fall
of 1921 it set up its first fulltme broadcasting station,
WDY , at the
Roselle Park, New Jersey company plant. By 1923
RCA was operating
three stations—WJZ (now WABC ) and WJY in New York City, and WRC
WTEM ) in Washington, D.C. A restriction imposed by AT&T's
interpretation of the patent cross-licensing agreements required that
RCA stations remain commercial free, and they were financed by
profits from radio equipment sales.
NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY
Beginning in 1922, AT&T became heavily involved in radio
broadcasting, and soon became the new industry's most important
participant. From the beginning AT&T's policy was to finance stations
by commercial sponsorship of the programs. The company also created
the first radio network, centered on its
New York City
New York City station WEAF
WFAN ), using its long distance telephone lines to interconnect
stations. This allowed them to economize by having multiple stations
carry the same program.
RCA and its partners soon faced an economic crisis, as the costs of
providing programming threatened to exceed the funds available from
equipment profits. The problem was resolved in 1926 when AT&T
unexpectedly decided to exit the radio broadcasting field. RCA
purchased, for $1,000,000, AT">
RCA voltage regulator vacuum tube.
RCA inherited American Marconi's status as a major producer of vacuum
tubes, which were branded RADIOTRON in the United States. Especially
after the rise of broadcasting, they were a major profit source for
the company. RCA's strong patent position meant that the company
effectively set the selling prices for vacuum tubes in the U.S., which
were significantly higher than in Europe, where
Lee de Forest
Lee de Forest had
allowed a key patent issued to him to lapse.
RCA was responsible for
creating a series of innovative products, ranging from octal base
metal tubes co-developed with
General Electric before World War II, to
Nuvistor tubes used in the tuners of the New Vista series
of TV sets. The
Nuvistor tubes were a last major vacuum tube
innovation, and were meant to compete with the newly introduced
transistor. By 1975,
RCA had completely switched from tubes to
solid-state devices in their television sets, except for the cathode
ray tube (CRT) picture tube.
Nipper "His Master's Voice" mascot trademark was acquired as
part of the Victor Talking Machine purchase.
The rise of radio broadcasting, which provided free entertainment,
caused significant financial problems throughout the established
record industry. In 1929,
RCA purchased the ailing Victor Talking
Machine Company , then the world's largest manufacturer of both
records and phonograph players, including its showcase "Victrola"
line. This acquisition was organized as a new subsidiary called RCA
VICTOR, and included majority ownership of the Victor Company of Japan
With this purchase
RCA acquired the western hemisphere rights to use
Nipper "His Master\'s Voice " trademark.
RCA Victor developed
combined radio receiver-phonographs and also created
RCA Photophone ,
a movie sound-on-film system that competed with William Fox 's
sound-on-film Movietone and
Warner Bros. ' sound-on-disc
The acquisition of Victor also gave
RCA superior manufacturing and
distribution capability through its newly acquired factories in
Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey , which began manufacturing radios in addition to
phonographs and records.
RCA began selling the first electric phonograph in 1930. In 1931, RCA
Victor began selling 33⅓ revolutions-per-minute (rpm) records,
although the system was withdrawn from the market after about a year.
The format was a commercial failure at the height of the Great
Depression, partly because the records and playback equipment were
expensive, and also because the audio performance was poor; the new
format used the same groove size as existing 78 rpm records, and it
would require the smaller-radius stylus of the later microgroove
systems to achieve acceptable slower-speed performance.
RCA introduced the Duo Jr. turntable designed to be plugged
into radios. Also in the Thirties,
RCA sold the modernistic RCA
Victor M Special, a polished aluminum portable record player designed
John Vassos that has become an icon of Thirties American industrial
design. In 1949,
RCA Victor released the first 45 rpm "single"
records, as a response to CBS/Columbia 's successful introduction of
its microgroove 33⅓ rpm "LP " format.
RCA began selling 33⅓ rpm LP
records in 1950, and in 1951 CBS/Columbia began selling 45 rpm
RCA also made investments in the movie industry, but they performed
poorly. In April 1928
RCA Photophone, Inc., was organized by a group
of companies including
RCA to develop sound-movie technology. In the
fall of 1927,
RCA had purchased stock in Film Booking Office (FBO),
and on October 25, 1928, with the help of
Joseph P. Kennedy , the
Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation (RKO) studio was formed by merging FBO
with Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation (KAO), a company whose holdings
included motion picture theaters. The theaters in which RKO had an
interest provided a potential market for the
RCA Photophone sound
RCA ownership of RKO stock expanded from approximately 25
percent in 1930 to approximately 61 percent in 1932. However, the RKO
studio was poorly run and encountered severe financial problems, going
into receivership from early 1933 to 1940.
RCA sold its holdings in
order to raise funds for its basic operations.
SEPARATION FROM GENERAL ELECTRIC
Following years of industry complaints that the cross-licensing
agreements between RCA, GE and Westinghouse had in effect created
spheres-of-influence for the participating companies, resulting in
illegal monopolies, in 1930 the U.S. Department of Justice brought
antitrust charges against the three companies. In 1932 they accepted a
consent agreement which removed the restrictions established by the
cross-licensing agreements, and also provided that
RCA would become a
fully independent company. As a result, GE and Westinghouse gave up
their ownership interests in RCA, while
RCA was allowed to keep its
factories. In order to give
RCA a chance to establish itself, GE and
Westinghouse were required to refrain from competing in the radio
business for the next two and one-half years.
RCA ad for the beginning, in April 1939, of regular experimental
TV broadcasting by RCA-
New York City
New York City station W2XBS
(forerunner of today's WNBC-4), for "an hour at a time, twice a week."
RCA began TV development in early 1929, after an overly optimistic
Vladimir K. Zworykin convinced Sarnoff that a commercial version of
his prototype system could be produced in a relatively short time for
$100,000. Following what would actually be many years of additional
research and millions of dollars,
RCA demonstrated an all-electronic
black-and-white television system at the 1939 New York World\'s Fair .
RCA began regular experimental television broadcasting from the NBC
studios to the New York metropolitan area on April 30, 1939 via
station W2XBS, channel 1 (which evolved into W
NBC channel 4) from a
transmitter atop the Empire State Building. At the same time, RCA
began selling its first television set models in various New York
stores. However, the FCC had not approved the start of commercial
television operations, because technical standards had not been yet
been finalized. Concerned that RCA's broadcasts were an attempt to
flood the market with sets that would force it to adopt RCA's current
technology, the FCC stepped in to limit its broadcasts.
Following the adoption of National
Television System Committee (NTSC)
recommended standards, the FCC authorized the start of commercial
television broadcasts on July 1, 1941. The entry of the United States
into World War II a few months later greatly slowed its deployment,
RCA resumed selling television receivers almost immediately after
the war ended in 1945. (See also:
History of television )
In 1950, the FCC adopted a standard for color television that had
been promoted by CBS, but the effort soon failed, primarily because
the color broadcasts could not be received by existing black-and-white
sets. As the result of a major research push,
RCA engineers developed
a method of "compatible" color transmissions that, through the use of
interlacing, simultaneously broadcast color and black-and-white
images, which could be picked up by both color and existing
black-and-white sets. In 1953, RCA's all-electronic color TV
technology was adopted as the standard for American television. At
that time, Sarnoff predicted annual color TV sales would reach 1.78
million in 1956, but the sets were expensive and difficult to adjust,
and there was initially a lack of color programming, so sales lagged
badly and the actual 1956 total would only be 120,000. RCA's
NBC proved to be a major benefit, as that network was
instructed to promote its color programming offerings; even so, it was
only in 1968 that color TV sales in the U.S. surpassed
While lauding the technical prowess of his engineers who had
developed color TV, David Sarnoff, in marked contrast to William Paley
of CBS, did not disguise his dislike for popular TV programs. His
authorized biography even boasted that "no one has yet caught him in
communion with one of the upper dozen or so top-rated programs" and
"The popular programs, to put the matter bluntly, have very little
appeal for him."
RCA professional video cameras and studio gear, particularly of the
TK-40/41 series, became standard equipment at many American television
network affiliates, as
RCA Merrill" to dealers)
television sets introduced color television to the public.
David Sarnoff with the first
RCA videotape recorder, 1954.
Television Quad head 2" color recorder/ reproducer used at
broadcast studios in the late 1960s, 70s and early 80s.
In 1941, a few months before the
United States entered World War II,
the cornerstone was laid for a research and development facility in
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey called
RCA Laboratories. Led for many years by
Elmer Engstrom , it was used to develop many innovations, including
color television , the electron microscope ,
CMOS -based technology,
heterojunction physics, optoelectronic emitting devices , liquid
crystal displays (LCDs), videocassette recorders , direct broadcast
television, direct broadcast satellite systems and high-definition
During World War II,
RCA was involved in radar and radio development
in support of the war effort, and ranked 43rd among United States
corporations in the value of wartime military production contracts.
During and after the war,
RCA set up several new divisions for
defense, space exploration and other activities. The
Corporation provided large numbers of staff for the Distant Early
Warning (DEW) Line .
RCA units won five Army–Navy "E" Awards for
Excellence in production. Also during the war, ties between
JVC were severed.
RCA sold its Estate large appliance operations to Whirlpool
Corporation . As part of the transaction, Whirlpool was given the
right to market "
RCA Whirlpool" appliances through the mid-1960s.
RCA was one of a number of companies in the 1960s that entered the
mainframe computer field in order to challenge the market leader
International Business Machines (IBM) (see also:
Computing ). Although
at this time computers were almost universally used for routine data
processing and scientific research, in 1964 Sarnoff, who prided
himself as a visionary, predicted that "The computer will become the
hub of a vast network of remote data stations and information banks
feeding into the machine at a transmission rate of a billion or more
bits of information a second... Eventually, a global communications
network handling voice, data and facsimile will instantly link man to
machine—or machine to machine—by land, air, underwater, and space
circuits. will affect man's ways of thinking, his means of education,
his relationship to his physical and social environment, and it will
alter his ways of living. ... will coalesce into what unquestionably
will become the greatest adventure of the human mind."
RCA marketed a Spectra 70 computer line that was hardware, but not
software, compatible with IBM's
System/360 series. It also produced
RCA Series, which competed against the
IBM System/370 . This
technology was leased to the
English Electric company, which used it
for their System 4 series, which were essentially
RCA Spectra 70
clones. RCA's TSOS operating system was the first mainframe, demand
paging, virtual memory operating system on the market. Despite
significant investment, in 1971
RCA only had a 4% market share, and it
was estimated that it would cost $500 million over the next five years
to remain competitive with the IBM/370 series. On September 17, 1971
RCA Board of Directors announced its decision to close its
computer systems division (RCA-CSD), which would be written off as a
$490 million company loss. Sperry Rand 's UNIVAC division took over
RCA base in January 1972.
RCA Graphic Systems Division (GSD) was an early supplier of
electronics designed for the printing and publishing industries. It
contracted with German company
Rudolf Hell to market adaptations of
the Digiset photocomposition system as the Videocomp, and a Laser
Color Scanner. The Videocomp was supported by a Spectra computer that
ran the Page-1 and, later the Page-II and FileComp composition
RCA later sold the Videocomp rights to Information
RCA became a major proponent of the eight-track tape cartridge ,
which it launched in 1965. The eight-track cartridge initially had a
huge and profitable impact on the consumer marketplace. Sales of the
8-track tape format declined when consumers increasingly favored the
4-track compact cassette tape format developed by
On January 1, 1965, Robert Sarnoff succeeded his father as RCA's
president, although the elder Sarnoff remained in control as chairman
of the board. In 1969, the company name was changed from "Radio
Corporation of America" to the "
RCA Corporation", to reflect its
broader range of corporate activities and expansion into other
countries. At the end of that same year David Sarnoff, after being
incapacitated by a long-term illness, was removed as the company's
chairman of the board. He died two years later.
RCA's 1971 exit from the mainframe computer market marked a milestone
in its transition from technology toward diversification as a business
conglomerate . During the late 1960s and 1970s the company made a
wide-ranging series of acquisitions, including Hertz (rental cars),
Banquet (frozen foods), Coronet (carpeting),
Random House (publishing)
and Gibson (greeting cards). However, the company was slipping into
financial disarray, with wags calling it "Rugs Chickens "> RCA's
SelectaVision capacitance electronic (CED) videodisc failed
Projects attempting to establish new consumer electronics products
lost money. An
RCA Studio II home video game console, introduced in
1977, was canceled just under two years later due to poor sales. A
capacitance electronic (CED) videodisc , marketed under the
SelectaVision name, was launched in 1981, but never developed the
manufacturing volumes needed to substantially bring down its price,
and was unable to compete against cheaper, recordable videotape
technology. It was abandoned in 1985 for a write-off of several
hundred million dollars.
In 1981, Columbia sold its share in the home video division to RCA
and outside of North America this division was renamed to
"RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video". The following year,
within North America, it was renamed to "RCA/Columbia Pictures Home
Video". In 1983,
Arista Records owner
Bertelsmann sold 50% of Arista
to RCA. In 1985,
RCA formed a joint venture called
RCA/Ariola International, which took over management of
RCA Records .
RCA Broadcast Systems Division moved from Camden, New Jersey
, to the site of the
RCA antenna engineering facility in Gibbsboro,
New Jersey . On October 3, 1985,
RCA announced it was closing the
Broadcast Systems Division. In the years that followed, the broadcast
product lines developed in Camden were terminated or sold off, and
most of the buildings at the Camden site were demolished, except for a
few of the original
RCA Victor buildings that had been declared
national historic buildings. For several years,
RCA spinoff L-3
Communications Systems East was headquartered in the famous Nipper
Building , but has since moved to an adjacent building built by the
city for them. The building now houses shops and luxury loft
RE-ACQUISITION AND BREAK-UP BY GENERAL ELECTRIC
In December 1985 it was announced that
General Electric would
reacquire its former subsidiary for $6.28 billion in cash, or $66.50
per share of stock. The sale was completed the next year, and GE
proceeded to sell off most of the
RCA assets. (The only
RCA unit which
GE retained was Government Services.) GE disposed of its 50% interest
in then-RCA/Ariola International Records to its partner
and the company was renamed BMG Music, for
Bertelsmann Music Group .
RCA Global Communications Inc., a division with roots dating
back to RCA's founding, was sold to the MCI Communications
Corporation. The rights to make RCA- and GE-branded televisions and
other consumer electronics products were purchased in 1988 by the
French company Thomson Consumer Electronics , in exchange for some of
Thomson's medical businesses. (For information on the
RCA brand after
RCA (trademark) .) That same year, its semiconductor
business (including the former
RCA Solid State unit and
Intersil ) was
Harris Corporation . In 1991, GE sold its share in
RCA/Columbia to Sony Pictures which renamed the unit to "Columbia
TriStar Home Video" (later further renamed to Columbia TriStar Home
Entertainment, now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
Sarnoff Labs was put on a five-year plan whereby GE would fund all
the labs' activities for the first year, then reduce its support to
near zero after the fifth year. This required Sarnoff Labs to change
its business model to become an industrial contract research facility.
In 1988 it was transferred to
SRI International (SRI) as the David
Sarnoff Research Center , and subsequently renamed the Sarnoff
Corporation . In January 2011 it was fully integrated into SRI. .
GE sold all of its radio station holdings to various owners, and the
Radio Network to Westwood One . In 2011, a controlling interest in
the National Broadcasting Company , by this time part of the
NBC Universal venture that included TV and cable, was sold
by GE to
Comcast , and in 2013
Comcast acquired the remaining
RCA Building 17 is one of the few remaining
Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey that once housed the vast
RCA antique radios , and early color television receivers such as the
RCA Merrill/CT-100, are among the more sought-after collectible radios
and televisions, due to their popularity during the golden age of
radio and the historic significance of the
RCA name, as well as their
styling, manufacturing quality and engineering innovations. Most
collectable are the pre-war television sets manufactured by RCA
beginning in 1939, including the TRK-5, TRK-9 and TRK-12 models.
RCA Victor Building 17, the "
Nipper Building ", in
Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey , was converted to luxury apartments in 2003.
A type of plug/jack combination used in audio and video cables is
still called the
RCA connector .
RCA manufacturing sites have been reported to be
polluted with industrial waste.
* A former
RCA facility in Taiwan's northern county of Taoyuan (now
Taoyuan City) polluted groundwater with toxic chemicals and led to a
high incidence of cancer among former employees. The area was
declared a toxic site by the Taiwanese Environmental Protection Agency
. GE and Thomson spent millions of dollars for cleanup, removing
10,000 cubic yards (7,600 m3) of soil and installing municipal water
treatment facilities for neighboring communities. A spokesman for
RCA's current owners denied responsibility, saying a study conducted
by the Taiwan government showed no correlation between the illnesses
and the company's facilities, which shut down in 1991. On April 17,
RCA lost the case and the Taipei District Court (??????) ordered
RCA's current owners to compensate its former employees with a total
of NT$560 million (approximately USD18.1 million).
* A plant in
Lancaster, Pennsylvania which
RCA operated from the
late 1940s to June 1986, released more than 250,000 pounds of
1,1,1-trichloroethane pollutants per year from its exhaust stacks.
Tests by the
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in
the late 1980s and early 1990s, found the groundwater contaminated by
trichloroethylene (TCE) and
1,2-dichloroethylene (1,2-DCE). In 1991
and 1992, contaminants were detected in monitoring wells on the east
side of the
Conestoga River in Lancaster.
* The shallow and deep groundwater aquifers beneath the Intersil
Mountaintop, Pennsylvania , which
RCA operated in the
1960s and later sold to
Harris Corporation , were found in 1999 to
contain elevated levels of volatile organic compounds .
* A site in
Burlington, Massachusetts which
RCA used from 1958 to
1994 to make and test military electronics equipment, generated
hazardous waste (VOCs , TCE , toluene , ethylbenzene , and xylenes ).
* In Barceloneta ,
Puerto Rico , an RCA-operated plant generated
wastes containing chromium , selenium and iron . Four lagoons holding
chemical waste drained into the limestone aquifer . Used water from
the manufacturing process (process water), containing ferric chloride
, was treated onsite to remove contaminants and then was discharged
into a sinkhole at the site. The treatment of process water created a
sludge that was stored onsite in drying beds and in surface
David Sarnoff in 1922
Edwin Armstrong at
Nipper atop the old
RCA distribution building, Broadway, Albany,
Nipper window in Camden NJ.
Nipper stained glass atop the "
Nipper Tower" in the former
RCA Dimensia TV logo 1980s
RCA logo. A later variation of this logo was revived by BMG
after it bought
RCA Records from GE, which is still used by Sony Music
RCA Pavilion at the 1964 New York World\'s Fair
Radio ad, circa 1945.
Radio x551, Early '50s AC/DC tabletop radio
RCA 44-BX Bi-Directional Velocity
Victor Talking Machine's His Master\'s Voice logo with
RCA Victor Red Seal Records label, 1930s
Arthur Fiedler demonstrates the new
45rpm player and
record in February 1949.
RCA Studio B recording studio in
Nashville, Tennessee ; known in the
1960s for being part of the
Nashville sound .
Vladimir K. Zworykin with an early experimental TV
Grace Brandt and
Eddie Albert in a 1936
NBC television program The
Honeymooners-Grace and Eddie Show using an early
Television test pattern created by
RCA in 1939
First U.S. commercial TV set, the
RCA Victor TRK 12 (1939)
RCA 630-TS , the first mass-produced television set, sold in
RCA TK-41C dolly-mounted color broadcast camera
RCA television camera
RCA Radiotron Image Orthicon TV Camera Tube
RCA Studio II home video game console (1977)
Colortrak TV set, using the CTC101 chassis, c. 1980
RCA AutoShot VHS Camcorder, c. 1998
RCA connector used for audio and video.
RCA 1802 , sometimes known as the COSMAC, an 8-bit CMOS
microprocessor from 1976.
* Business portal
* Electronics portal
Berliner Gramophone Company, whose Canadian operation became RCA
Victor of Canada
Capacitance Electronic Disc format, marketed as
Claude Robinson , American pioneer in advertising and opinion
CMOS 4000 series
Colortrak 2000 , notable trademarks for RCA's early
color television sets
Dimensia , a high-end advanced trademark TV for RCA
Edwin Howard Armstrong , Inventor and
Radio Engineer working with
Elmer T. Cunningham
* Empire State Building broadcast stations
* Ernst F. W. Alexanderson RCA's first Chief Engineer, 1920–1924
Film Chain –
RCA TK-26, TK-27 and TK-28
* George H. Brown , research engineer who headed RCA's development
of color television
* Harold H. Beverage vice president of research and development at
RCA Communications, Inc.
HMV – His Master's Voice
* Victor Company of Japan (JVC)
List of phonograph manufacturers
Missile Test Project
* Professional video cameras – TK 47 and more
RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer
RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer
RCA Photophone , Motion Picture sound recording
RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video
RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video , joint venture between
RKO Pictures , founded in part by RCA
RCA trademark for their line of superheterodyne
receivers during the early 1930s.
Vladimir K. Zworykin Invented the Iconoscope image pickup tube for
RCA early television camera video system.
RCA trademark for extended life and 100% solid state
chassis on color television sets in the 1970s and later.
* ^ "
Radio Corporation of America)".
IEEE Global History
IEEE . Retrieved 1 June 2017.
Radio Corporation of America advertisement, The Wireless Age,
August 1921, page 4.
* ^ "A Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company for America", Electrical
World and Engineer, December 2, 1899, pages 870–871.
* ^ "Attempts to Establish a
United States Government Radio
Monopoly", History of Communications-Electronics in the United States
Navy by Captain L. S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 313–318.
* ^ "A New Wireless Chain Between the Americas" by John V. L.
Hogan, Popular Science Monthly, November 1918, pages 140–143.
* ^ A B History of
Radio to 1926 by Gleason L. Archer, 1938, pages
* ^ Archer (1938), pages 187–188
* ^ Page, Walter Hines; Page, Arthur W (May 1922). "The March Of
Events: America in Control Of Its Wireless". World's Work. XLIV:
11–13. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
* ^ The Continuous Wave by Hugh G. J. Aitken, 1985, pages
445–447, 454–469, 477–481.
* ^ "Rescuing the Project" section of Memoirs by David Rockefeller,
New York: Random House, 2002, p. 55.
* ^ The Book of
Radio by Charles William Taussig, 1922, page 320.
* ^ "The Opening of
Radio Central", The Wireless Age, December
1921, pages 18–22, 45.
* ^ Dr. Harold H. Beverage interview (hard-core-dx.com)
* ^ Archer (1938), pages 112–113
* ^ "Voice-Broadcasting the Stirring Progress of the \'Battle of
the Century\' ", The Wireless Age, August 1921, pages 11–21.
* ^ "Early History of Network Broadcasting", Report on Chain
Broadcasting: May, 1941, Federal Communications Commission, pages 5-8,
* ^ Rule 3.107, Report on Chain Broadcasting: May, 1941, Federal
Communications Commission, page 92.
* ^ The General by Kenneth Bilby, 1986, pages 246–249.
Radio Manufacturers of the 1920s: Volume 3 by Alan Douglas,
1991, pages 1–60.
RCA trademark exhibit at Heritage Museum in Big Spring , Texas
* ^ The
Nipper trademark is also used by the British music &
* ^ Hoag Levins (March 2009). "A Photo History of RCA\'s Golden
Years in Camden". historiccamdencounty.com.
* ^ A similar attempt the previous decade by
Edison Records to
market a commercial long play record format had also failed. The
Edison approach used a microgroove vertically recorded disc with 20
minutes playing time per side.
* ^ "Sound Recording".
* ^ Dominic Muren, "Monday Masterpieces: Streamline+Vinyl=Awesome",
IDFuel: Industrial Design Weblog, 2004. Accessed July 22, 2012
* ^ Wallerstein, Edward. "LPs historic". musicinthemail.com.
* ^ "Diskery Goes 33 in March To Service Entire Market; 45
Promotion in High Gear". Billboard. 7 January 1950. Retrieved 1 June
* ^ "Record Collector\'s Resource: A History of Records".
cubby.net. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
* ^ "RCA\'s interest in the motion-picture industry", Report on
Chain Broadcasting: May, 1941, Federal Communications Commission,
Television (magazine) Vol. X, No. 2, June, 1939.
(inside front cover) New York: Popular Book Corporation.
* ^ "Brochure for 1939
RCA TV sets". tvhistory.tv.
* ^ Bilby (1986), pages 208, 213.
David Sarnoff by Eugene Lyons, 1966, page 190.
* ^ "
CT-100 Color Receiver Gallery".
* ^ Based on a design originally developed by
Ampex in the
mid-1950s, it used a vertical scanning drum with head motion at 90°
to tape direction. This method was developed prior to helical scanning
, used in commercial and home tape machines.
* ^ Peck, Merton J. ">(PDF). (computerhistory.org). March 1965.
Retrieved 1 June 2017.
* ^ Clausing, Don; Victor Fey (2004). Effective Innovation. New
York: ASME Press. p. 7. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
* ^ "RCA: Now Elvis rocked for Bertelsmann, too" (PDF). Bertelsmann
* ^ "The History of Television, 1942 to 2000".
* ^ "
RCA TV Equipment Archive". oldradio.com.
* ^ The Victor Lofts website, Camden, New Jersey. victorlofts.com
* ^ "
General Electric Will Buy
RCA for $6.28 Billion" by Paul
Richer, Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1985.
* ^ "MCI Agrees to Acquire
RCA Global From G.E." by Barnaby J.
Feder, New York Times, September 4, 1987.
* ^ "Company News; Harris Signs Accord To Buy a Unit of G.E.". New
York Times. November 9, 1988. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
* ^ "
SRI International Completes Integration of Sarnoff
Corporation" (Press release).
SRI International . 2011-01-01.
* ^ Scott Mayerowitz (AP Business Writer) (12 February 2013).
General Electric gets out of the TV business".
* ^ "
RCA Victor Company, \'
Nipper Building\' Rehabilitation", New
Jersey Historic Preservation Awards Program, 2004,.
* ^ Yi, Matthew (May 24, 2002). "Taiwan workers plead cancer case /
RCA plant to disease". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst
Communications. Retrieved 2014-09-23.
* ^ Ton, 1999 Ton C-D, Exposure and Health Risk Assessment of
Groundwater Contamination – A Case Study of Contamination Site of
Tao-Yuan RCA. Master Thesis, National Taiwan University. 1999 (in
* ^ Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
* ^ Chao, Stephanie (18 April 2015). "
RCA parent firms to pay
NT$560 mil.". Retrieved 2015-07-05.
* ^ http://www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/ca/pa/pdf/pad003026903.pdf
Intersil Corporation, S-1 SEC Filing, 11/10/1999
* ^ SUPERFUND ANNUAL REPORT 2001. U.S. EPA Region I
* ^ U.S. EPA, Environmental Quality Board, National Priority List
(NPL), Site Inspection Report/Site Evaluation Report. EPA, San Juan
RCA del Caribe, October 1987
* ^ John M. Hunter and Sonia I. Arbona, "Paradise Lost: An
Introduction to the Geography of Water Pollution in Puerto Rico", Soc.
Sci. Med. Vol. 40, No. 10, pp. 1331–1355, 1995. Pergamon Press.
* ^ 20058 - 20060 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 73 / Monday,
April 18, 2005
* ^ This photo is reversed from the normal orientation because it
was taken from inside the "
Nipper Tower". It shows the 2003
replacement of the 1979 replacement of the 1915 original glass.
* ^ On display at the Wolfsonian–Florida International University
Miami , Florida.
* ^ Located at the American Museum of
Radio And Electricity. The TV
is playing an episode of the Superman television program.
* Brewster, Richard (2013). "
RCA TV Development: 1929–1949". The
AWA Review . Antique Wireless Association. 26. access-date= requires
url= (help )
* Cowie, Jefferson (1999). Capital Moves: RCA\'s Seventy-Year Quest
for Cheap Labor.
Ithaca, New York
Ithaca, New York :
Cornell University Press
Cornell University Press . ISBN
* Sobel, Robert N. (1986). RCA. New York :
Stein and Day . ISBN
* Taussig, Charles William (1922). "
Radio Central". The Book of
Radio. London: D. Appleton & Company. pp. 312–327. Retrieved
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