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RCA TK 11 A 31




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The Ellerbee Collection

Bobby Ellerbee has been collecting vintage television broadcast cameras for only about two years now.

In less than one year though, he was able to put together a beautiful nine camera collection, and he is fast becoming one of the leading experts on vintage TV cameras and their history, in North America.

Bobby has done extensive research on the history surrounding each of his cameras and it is in that activity and those whom he has contacted that has led him to create the "Ellerbee Classic Camera Survey.”

It is a first-ever, comprehensive tally and listing which he has created that makes a valiant effort to count up how many of these valuable and often-times historic vintage cameras have actually survived, and where they are.

His efforts have spanned to searching collections from The Smithsonian Institute, university archives, most of the major broadcast museums and numerous private individuals. His scholarship provides a one-of-a-kind list of many the rare vintage cameras.

His diligent efforts are sincerely appreciated by all of us who have a passion for television and it's contributions to our Society.
Displaying his a truly generous spirit, Bobby has played a major role in locating many important artifacts of video history for The Museum of Broadcast Technology near Boston,Massachusetts. Bobby has used his talents as both a detective who could rival Sherlock Holmes, as well as his powers of articulate persuasion to build collegial relationships between potential donors or providers of historic items and the folks at The Museum of Broadcast Technology.

Bobby has been a key player in successful acquisitions of rare RCA TRT-1A/B 2” Quad machines, as well as RCA TR-22 and TR-600 quad video tape equipment. The MBT's talented Tom Sprague has brought one of those TR-22s back to life ! The TR-600s are next !

Most recently, thanks to Bobby's recent leadership direction and assistance in the MBT's acquisition of an historic RCA TK-40A Image Orthicon color camera. This camera is one of a pair delivered in 1954 to what was then WKY-TV in Oklahoma City, OK. These were the first two color TV cameras ever delivered to a local independent commercial TV station in the world. Fortunately the other TK-40A is at the Oklahoma Historical Center.

The Museum of Broadcast Technology is eternally grateful to Bobby for his passion, dedication and to the preservation of vintage cameras and related broadcasting artifacts. Way-To-Go Bobby !

Most sincerely,

Paul R. Beck, President,
Thomas R. Sprague, CFO,
Dr. Henry Berman,
Museum of Broadcast Technology, Inc. www.wmbt.com


How My Collection Got Started

Around age 10, (1960), I was totally hooked on drawing television cameras and I drew them all day long for many years. My favorite was the TK41 (second favorite was TK11 then Norelco) and a lady named Kathryn S. Cole at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza kept me loaded with thick stacks of 8x10 glossy back stage photos for many years. One of them is on our home page and others are scattered around, but all are on the RCA TK 40-41 picture pages.

The RCA TK44B my first camera, is the start of a very interesting story. Wanting my own TV camera, I called Chuck Pharis in California on August 8, 2006 to ask the best way to go about this. Later that day, after a good talk with Chuck, I decided to just call around here in my area (Athens Atlanta) and just ask if anyone had any old cameras they would like to donate to a collector. On my first call, I left a message which I usually never do, and then got busy with other things and made no more calls.

Later that night, an engineer at the station, where I had left the message, Gary Coffman, WXIA-TV in Atlanta, called and asked me if I would like to have 7 cameras, a TD8 HF pedestal and 3 miles of cable.


There were 5 RCA TK44Bs and 3 RCA TKP 45 portable cameras and 8 CCUs. I kept 3 TK44s. I gave Chuck 2 of the 45Ps and gave Paul Beck and Tom Sprague 2 TK44s, the cable, the CCUs and a the other TKP-45 for their Museum of Broadcast Technology that is being built in Woonsocket Rhode Island, just outside Boston.

Tom and Paul gave me a CBS Philips PC60, 1 Vinten head from WGBH (Boston) and a tripod that was used by WPIX only at Yankee Stadium (outfield camera). The TK-44Bs came from Dixie Sports Net, an Atlanta production company that went out of business, but, these all these cameras actually started service at NBC's Burbank Studios.

How do we know? The NBC Burbank cameras have had an extra exhaust fan added to the top of the camera. This was a modification made by necessity because the viewfinders kept overheating and they would actually black out. This was not so much a problem at local stations because their cameras did not work as many hours as the NBC Burbank cameras.

If you go through the TK 44 "At Work" picture pages on this site, or the Old Radio RCA Equipment website, and look at all the TK44s, aside from the NBC network TK44s, there is only one other TK44 picture that has the extra fan mod on top and that was from Oral Roberts University, or O.R.U.

Roberts did a lot of taping at the NBC Burbank facility and when NBC sold some TK44s and TK45Ps (and they were known to have bought and sold a lot of TK44s), I believe that all these cameras went to Oral Roberts University. There are O. R. U.property tags on the lenses.

As for the TK45Ps, I think these were originally used on Saturday Night Live and these NBC New York cameras went to Burbank, then to O.R.U., then Dixie Sports Net, then Gary Coffman, then to me, Chuck and MBT (abbreviation for Museum of Broadcast Technology).

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One of three TK45Ps picked up with the TK 44s. Two TK 45Ps went to Chuck Pharis. 2 TK 44s and 1 TK45P went to the Museum of Broadcast Technology near Boston in Woonsocket RI., (0027) along with all of these camera control units for the TK44s and 45Ps.
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The 'honeycombing' in the viewfinder is a typical problem with 44s that have sat for a long time. The resin RCA used between the viewfinder tube and the glass plate on the back of the camera deteriorates and 'oozes'. It's a mess but it's not to hard to
clean up.
Here they are with the Varitol lenses in my garage after unloading.
TK 44Bs fill the back of a pickup truck. They were heavy and hard to get to with winding stairs and a 50 yard walk to the truck.

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For information on this site, including submission instructions, please e-mail Bobby Ellerbee.

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