WTIC Alumni Site

      In Memory of and Designed by Bill Clede

Photo of the first VCR at WTIC-TV
Shown are John Welch (L), and an Episcopal Bishop (R)
Photo Courtesy of George Conklin

The machine was brand new. We got to look at it after the Bishop finished an interview. An engineer had to tend it while it operated. There was a small video screen on the front and the engineer had to tweak a pot from time to time while looking at a lissajous figure.

The "joy" of the techs was great to see. Prior to the Ampex it was hot kines.
-George Conklin

This picture started a flurry of commentary on the WTIC Email Group. Below are some excerpts:

I believe this is an Ampex VR-1000.  First ones were like this, next iteration had the machine equipped with a monitor bridge above the deck with black & white monitor centered, speaker to the left, and Tektronix scope to the right.  I operated on and ran one of these at WHYN-TV Springfied, MA in 1961, so I would imagine this was new to WTIC perhaps sometime in 1960?
-Tom Scanlan

I believe Channel 3 acquired this machine in 1958.  I hosted "Perception" and as soon as it was installed we began videotaping the show for playback on Sunday mornings at 9:30.
On Channel 3's website they are currently showing a video of a Perception show called "Lincoln in Hartford" which was taped in March, 1960.  I know for sure that we taped a show called "The Farmington Canal" written by Paul Gionfriddo a year earlier in 1959 (the audio exists on our WTIC Alumni website).
Perception was never done live on Sunday mornings.  It was always taped in advance and we were taping in the late '50s.
-Dick Bertel

That makes sense to me.  I was producer of a weekly religion program for the Greater Hartford Council of Churches.  We did a lot of choir music and taped on Thursday evenings.  (traditional time of church choirs in those days).  The programs were broadcast Sunday - perhaps around noon.  At the beginning the station made kinescopes for the broadcasts.  After broadcast the station gave the films to me.   I had a growing stack whick I discarded sometime before I moved to San Francisco early in 1961.

During that time I had a 4x5 Speed Graphic and brought it to production when something special was happening, like the Bishop appearing on the program shortly after Channel 3 acquired the Ampex 1000.  Those old negatives are slowly 'surfacing' as I search and scan thousands and thousands of photo.  Last week I scanned a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to the ministers' association weekly Thursday brown-bag luncheon meeting at Asylum Hill Congregational Church.  It was the first of many times I photographed him.  His second in 'command' was Andrew Young who had been a classmate at Hartford Seminary.

-George Conklin

I could be wrong because #1 my age (at the time the picture was taken and now) and #2 I never worked there so my recollection is not personal and first hand.
What I remember is that the first Video Tape Recorder (as it was called at the time) was indeed an Ampex.  Later versions had an additional overhead structure supported by two arms on the left and right side.  The one in the picture is more like a kitchen range - a carrier version or "flat top" so it was probably Ampex #1 as previously noted.  I also seem to remember dad speaking about how "they" (WTIC TV3) didn't buy the first one.  Some exec. from Travelers was at a broadcast trade show (???) and an Ampex salesman reeled him in. I don't think anybody (dad) was unhappy to have it, they just were more surprised than anything.  I seem to remember it sitting in a hallway on a pallet for some time before installation.  I also seem to remember the Ampex salesman having his own plane and would fly into Brainard Airport for periodic sales calls but on second thought I have him confused with the RCA sales guy.  There are better/more accurate sources on that than I.  I do remember dad driving brother Cliff and I to NJ to Ampex in a WTIC TV3 station wagon.  I probably should have paid more attention to the technical aspects of the trip but somehow remember more the attention we got from female motorists.
-Tim Welch, John's son

This looks very much like an Ampex 1000 console. I did not start with Ch-3 until 1968 but I did work for channel 8 for 18 months before that. They had 2 AMPEX machines. The new machine was an AMPEX 1200 which was color capable. It had the overhead monitor stack. The second machine was their original AMPEX 1000 they acquired in 1958. It was still in use and only produced monochrome video with no electronic tip correction so the engineer had to ride the tip correction on air at times. Not seen here is the three racks of vacuum tube electronics required to produce pictures and sound. I was told by the Chief Engineer  at the time that the machine could play color with an additional two racks of electronics which they did not buy. Just before I left there, they had the machine taken away to where I do not know. I was told the console weighed close to 1,000 pounds. I did not try to lift it to verify!
-Tony Valentino


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