Kinescope, for early television recording device, invented

John Logie Baird created the first transmission of a moving image in 1926. Grainy, black-and-washed out though it was, and without a practical means of commercializing it, the “televisor” nonetheless caused a sensation. Within twenty years, the mechanics of creating a faithful image were more or less perfected, but they could only be transmitted live. Very few means of recording of television existed, and the research into it was not very intense: few thought it worth the effort to record early TV. The DuMont Labs were about to change all that.

On this day, April 7, 1947, the Allen B. DuMont Labs announced to the public they had created a cost-effective way of recording television programs for later re-broadcast. The recording device, attached to a television monitor by inexpensive 16mm cables, was called a “kinescope.” They called their method “tele-transcriptions.”

Kodak, along with DuMont, released the first commercial kinescopes later that year, but they were hardly flying off the shelves when they first came to the market. The price for a half-hour of television recording was in the $1,000 range, and many television producers and broadcasters just did not see the commercial value in re-transmitting older shows. As well, the kinescope images were considerably inferior in quality, leading people to opt for A.M. radio instead of recorded shows. As late as 1948, TIME magazine was still proclaiming television will never overtake radio in popularity.