RCA’s CED failed; their history can tell us why (Pt. 3)


Well. Here we are. Part three of the video
series on the CED. The continuation of a story of “why?” and “how?” that will make
you think, “Why?” and “How?” Now, a quick recap of what we’ve learned so far. *inhales deeply* In the mid 1960’s, RCA had come up with
an idea for a video player using discs not too unlike those of conventional record players.
It took a frustratingly long time to come to fruition, and by the time it was released
in 1981, it was competing with not only the videocassette recorders coming in from Japan,
but also with the laser optical disc system backed by Philips-MCA. Featuring a perfect
mix of the worst parts of tape and the worst parts of laserdiscs, the format swiftly failed
and by 1984, RCA gave up. And then basically died altogether. Since it’s already been covered in the last two
videos, I’m not going to get into how this works. Go watch those if you’re interested. This video is here to answer the question; “Why on Earth was this project so gosh
darn slow?” and the answer to that question is remarkably complex. We need to go back
to the history of RCA so that we can get a little more context. And, just to warn you,
a retelling of this story pretty much has to be nonlinear in time, so strap in. AND PAY ATTENTION! David Sarnoff was a legendary figure in the
world of RCA, and indeed in consumer electronics as a whole. His work at RCA predated RCA itself. He was only 9 years old when his family arrived in the US from Russia in 1900, and just seven years later he had joined the ranks of American Marconi. Even during his very early years
it was obvious that he had a knack for innovation. He was constantly sending memos within the
company suggesting improvements to their equipment and methods. And, he’s even said to essentially
be the father of commercial radio, using the term “radio music box” to describe a potential
household application for the infant communications technology. When American Marconi became RCA in 1919, Sarnoff
was Commercial Manager. And by 1930, he had become General Manager. While both the President
and Chairman were positions above his role, their holders, Edmund Nally and Owen Young
respectively, were largely preoccupied with external affairs. Thus, Sarnoff effectively
had complete control over the company by this time. Sarnoff had learned that in the business of
radio, one could not simply exist by doing the same things again and again. Innovation was absolutely key. In a 1928 speech to the
Harvard Business School, he said, He believed that to achieve success, the company should have a culture of inventiveness. Not only would this ensure a leading position in the market, but future development could and would
prove to be beneficial to the company, often in unseen ways. And in fact, it wasn’t the consumer electronics
industry that really defined RCA initially. In its early years, RCA’s key assets were
its patents. The birth of RCA happened to seize control of American Marconi’s position,
as remember they were British and we can’t have them controlling things. Initially its
mission was to simply to gain control of the wireless communications industry, establish
and grow a pool of patents, and serve as a merchandising arm for its parent companies
who might want to sell radio equipment on the open market. At this time, RCA was owned
by General Electric, Westinghouse, AT&T, and, weirdly, United Fruit. Various American Marconi
stockholders retained some ownership interest, as well. Anyway, through the transition from American
Marconi to RCA, David Sarnoff continued fighting for his radio music box idea. And nobody
was having it. He didn’t yet have much power in the company to influence that sort of thing, but he didn’t care. He just kept at it, telling everyone he could “we need
to make radios, you guys”. And finally, after a couple of radio stations had been
licensed to start broadcasting, his superiors gave in. In 1920, $2,000 was allocated for the development
of a new radio receiver and various accessories. Also, somehow, Sarnoff got his superiors onboard
with starting their own experimental broadcasts, and the radio station WJZ was formed as a
joint venture between RCA and Westinghouse. You have no idea how right Sarnoff was about
this whole household radio business. OK, you probably do. But he was very right. Almost immediately demand for radio receivers exploded. Sales figures went from essentially nothing in
1920, to $60 million dollars in 1922, $130 million by 1923, and $358 million in 1924. I do believe it’s safe to say that radio was the iPhone of the 1920’s. [ audience booing ] And RCA was not exactly in a place to meet
this demand. Nobody had yet figured this business, which wasn’t created to sell radios, would need to sell radios. But they needed to sell radios. And they needed to figure this out
fast. Surprisingly, they managed to do it. In just the span of one year, 1921-1922, their
sales team went from 14 people. That’s 14 *people*. To 200 offices across the country, each with their own sets of people. By 1922, the business of entertainment radio
was RCA’s largest. So much for doubting Sarnoff, eh? In fact, it was thanks to this
explosive growth that Sarnoff was promoted to Vice President and General Manager. And Sarnoff learned something interesting through all this. Even though they were selling plenty
of radios, they didn’t actually need to manufacture anything at all to make money,
so long as they held some nice and juicy patents. RCA owned thousands of radio patents, and for years
if any company, anybody at all wanted to build a radio to sell to the public, they’d have
to pay royalties to RCA. Now, this wasn’t exactly working in the
Wild West days of radio. The courts hadn’t yet enforced RCA’s patents, and so RCA couldn’t
reasonably pursue any patent litigation. They could only threaten. And the early days of
radio were very tumultuous. The rapid pace of innovation meant that most newcomers ultimately failed. 600 of roughly 900 companies building radio receivers during this early boom had shut down
by 1927. But, eventually RCA’s patents were deemed valid, and milk them they did. RCA essentially owned the radio business starting
in the mid twenties. They created a system known as “package licensing”, which effectively
forced anyone in the radio business to pay some pretty hefty loyalties to them. In fact,
these new licensees had to pay past damages to RCA. Suddenly, RCA had nearly complete
control of the radio industry. Now, this may have been all cool and groovy to RCA, and in fact David Sarnoff tried to defend these licensing tactics as RCA’s birthright, but this very anti-competitive behavior eventually landed them in trouble with, well, everybody. In the meantime, though, oh WOW were things going well for RCA! Their patents and royalties raked in millions
of dollars, and it meant that the radio industry could grow tremendously on the backs of hundreds
of other companies, all the while RCA getting a nice and healthy cut. The success of these
tactics cemented in Sarnoff’s mind the importance of research to the company’s long-term success.
So long as they could keep inventing things, and get their patent on it, they’d be golden
forever. And it wasn’t just that they were getting
rich that made Sarnoff so eager to pursue research. It was also the knowledge that once
everybody had bought a radio, there wouldn’t be much potential for growth anymore. By 1929,
RCA alone was selling 75,000 radio sets per week, pulling in $30 million in profit annually.
With so many radios already sold, it was inevitable that these sales numbers wouldn’t last. Even more of a reason to keep cranking out those patents! This realization also ushered in an era of
diversification for RCA. After working out a deal to buy AT&T’s various radio stations,
RCA had formed the National Broadcasting Company. That’s right, NBC. Of course, RCA purchased
Victor Talking Machine in 1929, and it was around this time that Sarnoff sought to free
RCA from its owners. Buying Victor was part of that strategy, as it would suddenly give
them loads of manufacturing capabilities to make it on their own. And, in a sort of lucky
break, I guess, the whole “RCA is owned by GE and is getting kinda monopolistic thing” came to a head in 1930. Seeing that that probably wasn’t going to
end well, Sarnoff convinced RCA’s owners to let it become its own self-contained operation. Striving to make their own tubes and radio receivers, RCA acquired more manufacturing
space from Westinghouse in Indianapolis, and from GE in New Jersey. And to make it all
once-and-for-all final, in 1931 a consent decree formally split RCA from GE and Westinghouse. For the record, I’m glossing over a lot of particulars because we’re into the 9th minute already. Alright, now with RCA essentially operating
on its own terms, and with all of the various new facilities that Sarnoff had managed to
acquire before they were formally broken off, they were set to become the forerunners of
the electronic age. And perhaps the most important way they did was was through creating the
RCA Laboratories. It took some time for RCA to realize that research needed to be centralized.
In the early 1930’s research departments existed in many of their facilities across
the country, and each of them was left to their own devices. But in the rush to the next big thing, Television, (well, and also World War II) Sarnoff realized, after much pleading from his subordinates, that there would need to be a real effort made to put the company’s bright minds all in
one place. RCA engineers had been wanting their own facilities like the famous Bell
Laboratories, or General Electric’s laboratories for years, and with the increasing number
of government research contracts coming in because, ya know, the world was falling apart, as well as the future promises of the television industry, they got what they wanted. In March 1941, research officially became
a separate entity in RCA, and RCA Laboratories was to receive its own, brand new facility
in Princeton, New Jersey later that year. Now, the existence of the Laboratories is
important on many fronts, but we’re gonna focus on two essential things that happened
thanks to the creation of the Laboratories. First was a shift to fundamental research,
and second was a creation of a new corporate politics that would eventually tear the company
apart. First, an explanation on the move to fundamental research. RCA’s various research efforts during the
war, as well as the simple fact that they had freed up manufacturing space in their
facilities across the country, now that research was all taking place in Princeton, primed
them for domination in television. Production of Cathode Ray Tubes for radar displays could easily be adapted to create television picture tubes, once the war was over. And of course,
immeasurable amounts of new electronics knowledge was learned during the war effort. Their patents on television technologies allowed
them to enjoy a sequel to the success that they had achieved in the early days of radio.
And, let’s not forget they owned NBC (originally in two flavors, red and blue, but more legal
action made them sell off the blue part and that would become ABC). Still, RCA would make
money from selling you a television, from the advertisers on their own television network,
and even if you had the audacity to buy some other company’s television set, well RCA still
got a bit of your money. Ever-eager to move the state-of-the-art forward, RCA laboratories started down the path to a more colorful, but less-fruitful, future. In 1951, the year of his 45th anniversary,
Sarnoff challenged his research staff to create three new inventions for him. First was a
so-called light amplifier, dubbed Magnalux. This seemed like a very strange concept, so
I did some digging, and apparently this was an early flat-screen television technology. Go figure. The second, an all-electronic air conditioner, was an air conditioner that was
entirely electronic. And the third, the Videograph, was a device which could record television
signals onto magnetic tape. Sarnoff asked for these “gifts” as he
called them at the same time RCA was waging their bitter war with arch-nemesis CBS over
creating the color television standard. Although RCA did eventually win that fight, after a lot of litigation, color television wasn’t going too well for them. Sales were slow, and the industry in general just didn’t
seem ready for color TV. They spent a lot of research money and time, with not a lot to show for it. Not only had Sarnoff apparently jumped the gun with color TV, but his three
gifts were either flops, or embarrassments. His electronic air conditioner idea never
went beyond producing what was called “the world’s most expensive ice cube”. And his light amplifier was too expensive to feasibly produce. Side-note, although the light amplifier never
went anywhere, the first working liquid crystal displays were invented by George H. Heilmeier
in 1964 while he worked at RCA labs. Neat! And although Sarnoff’s videograph idea seemed
promising, his insistence that it accomodate color signals kept the researchers from making
any real progress. Seemingly when RCA wasn’t looking, a wild competition appeared! Skipping ahead in time a bit, a little
company called Ampex had managed to perfect the quadruplex video recorder before RCA could
get any real results from their videograph. What’s more, it was objectively better than what RCA had managed to come up with in the meantime. This was not only embarrassing to RCA, but it also left a bad taste in their mouth. RCA did eventually work with Ampex
to help them with the color-side of things (as after all that was RCA’s specialty) but their inability to achieve a pioneering position in video tape made many within RCA see video
tape as a dead-end technology. Foreshadowing! Their color-TV disappointment, as well as
their videotape embarrassment, helped pushed RCA further into the fundamental research
strategy they began in the late 1940’s, and would pursue heavily in the rest of the
1950’s and into the 1960’s. They had learned not only through the Ampex ordeal, but also
through the fact that suddenly they had large competitors like Philco and Zenith, each with
their own research departments, that the world was different now. To achieve great success,
no longer could RCA simply be a place for applied sciences. They’d need to do their
own sciencing themselves. Before long, the RCA Laboratories became known
less as a division of RCA, and more as a proper research institution. RCA was happy to hire
the world’s most inquisitive minds from practically any discipline. Elmer Engstrom,
the director of research and engineering, had come to believe that so long as fine research
was coming out of the Labs, they could capitalize on their efforts through licensing of new patents,
and production of various new consumer products as they saw fit. New hires into the RCA labs tended to hold
advanced degrees, and they were encouraged to keep pursuing their previous work. Were you studying metallurgy at Harvard? Come work for us in the labs! You can keep your studies
going, while we pay you a salary! And, for a while, this seemed to work. The RCA Laboratories became
a world-renowned place of research, in part thanks to the continued funding by the government
for more broad-reaching research efforts. And, the new scientists at RCA were very happy
to be able to continue publishing their research. You might gather that the labs became a source
of envy for other parts of RCA. Now we’re getting to the corporate politics part. Indeed,
to many inside the company, it was viewed as a sort of “country club” where resources
were wasted on frivolous ideas. As the young scientists rose in the ranks and started to
influence the direction of the operation towards more theoretical work, these feelings only
intensified. Even within the labs factions formed, as the industry veterans saw little corporate value in this new research, and the young scientists wished that grandpa would
shut up about marketability. These feelings had surfaced long before color
television proved itself a disappointment. And in fact those feelings were turned up
to 11 when in 1954, the very same year RCA first introduced color television, a corporate
restructuring occurred. You know how well those always go, right? In fairness, this happened because the electronics industry was getting mighty complex, what with these new transistors coming into fashion, and these computer things. Product research and development
would be moved out of the laboratories, and into so-called “advanced development departments”
within each of RCA’s divisions. Laboratories would continue with their froofy fundamental follies, but now the labs were broken into departments dedicated to disciplines such as chemical research, electronics research, acoustics research, etc. Now, you might think “this is fine, so what
if labs sticks to the fundamentals and the divisions actually do the product development?
It’s not like we need to make marketable inventions that we can
patent and make licensing money — ooohhhhh”. To make matters even worse than they already
were, by this time RCA’s various divisions were spread out all over the country, meaning
that the labs were essentially operating independently from the rest of the company… and almost unsupervised. Everybody there just happened to have a habit of aligning the company’s needs with their own personal endeavors. And, now that the divisions themselves were tasked
with making the theory from the labs become the product to be marketed, researchers didn’t
want to follow-through with that last step, as that would mean transferring to that division,
and losing your place in the lovable Laboratories. You will be totally surprised, I’m sure,
when I tell you that this eventually became a problem. See, the labs had been funded thanks
to A) all that sweet patent money RCA was still raking in from television and radio
and B) all those government programs they were being paid to do research for. Well,
in 1958, antitrust legislation yanked away a lot of that patent money, and government
money was beginning to dry up. Now, the Labs was in a position where it would need to prove itself. OK, now I’m sure many of you out there have
been wanting to ask, “Excuse me, but we are talking about the CED aren’t we? That’s
the story we’re trying to tell isn’t it?” And let me reassure you… This is indeed the story we’re trying to tell. You see, there’s just an awful lot of context here that becomes relevant in the future. Now, I’ll try and condense the next half a decade into a few minutes. Just don’t forget to add a can full of water before heating it. A few management rearrangements meant that
this new “labs needs to prove itself” thing was delayed for a while, and as luck
would have it, RCA’s color television work was finally beginning to pay off. In the early
1960’s suddenly everyone was like “We need a color TV!” and RCA profited again
through licensing patents (the antitrust stuff didn’t affect their color work much) as well as through selling color television sets at the Consumer Products division. They also caught
a bit of a lucky break, as although the antitrust action made their US-based patent licensing
for their older tech go away, they had a lot of success licensing their older patents to companies
in Japan and Germany. However, Labs was once again forced to make itself less of a burden and, like, invent stuff again. Another management shakeup occurred, with James Hillier becoming the new head of the Laboratories, and Hillier recognized the need for Labs to take a leadership role, and that, as he put it, “the rest of the corporation would have to see the laboratory as a life raft, not an albatross” But guess what? The rest of the corporation
still resented the labs a little bit. And, the long-standing process of “labs discovers something, they present it to the products divisions, and from then on the products divisions
are supposed to figure out what to do with it” just never really worked. George Brown,
corporate VP of research and engineering, had learned in the color TV development days that
the various product divisions weren’t likely to adopt a new product unless they thought they could take credit for the idea. So, if the idea came from Labs, they really just didn’t care. And some divisions outright feared what was going on in the laboratories. For instance, at one point in time the Tube Division (that’s the folks making vacuum
tubes or valves) had put up signs in their facilities that read “stamp out transistors”. They saw developments at the labs as a threat to their existence, and you can’t really blame
’em. In 1964, Hillier sought to once-and-for-all
make the laboratories work how the corporation needed it to. He created the Interim Research
Planning Committee, or IRPCO, to guide the direction of the labs. He wanted to change
it from its long-time university atmosphere to a proper corporate entity. As you may imagine,
this caused problems! The same factions of entrepreneurial veterans and young scientists rekindled their dislike for each other, as the vets saw IRPCO as a much-needed direction definer, and the youngins’ resented being told what research to perform. IRPCO itself didn’t last terribly long,
thanks to among other things Hillier being promoted out of the labs, but the mission
of “thinking about things from inception to market” was kept alive by the new head
Laboratorian, William Webster. And, fun fact, perhaps the only thing that the Laboratories actually carried through to the commercialization stage was a research project called Homefax. This was an idea to use one of the television signal’s lines in the unseen vertical blanking interval to encode slow-scan television, and transmit information in text or image form alongside the television signal. In 1967 RCA announced this system, but the industry didn’t really seem to care about it so it was abandoned. If this sounds an awful like a precursor to
Teletext, that’s because it is! Teletext is – ♫ sudden banjos ♫ My, the captions have been mighty dry so far. Good thing there’s this long stretch without words so we could cram some HIDDEN MESSAGES in the video! Too bad that there’s also text on-screen competing for your attention. Maybe shoulda thought of that. Oh crap I forgot to put in a hidden message! Alright. We’re past the 20 minute mark. To those of you who have stuck around, congratulations. And thank you! Here’s where the CED comes in; ♫ unwarranted smooth jazz ♫ No no no no! We’re gonna at least start. Remember how I had said in earlier videos that the CED started research in 1964? Well, that’s actually not quite true! In fact, back in 1959, William Webster headed the Electronics Research Laboratory. And, he had formed a team with the Systems Research Laboratory, led by Thomas Stanley, to work out the limits of what could be done with integrated circuits.
But one of Stanley’s side projects was figuring out the potential of storing and retrieving
information on a vinyl disc. This work led them to the capacitance concept, and laid
the first foundations for the CED. What DID happen in 1964 was that RCA had committed
to finding a sequel to Color Television. Just as had happened with radio and then black
and white television, the corporation knew that eventually, color TV sales are gonna
dry up. In a spring 1964 meeting, the laboratory directors decided that they needed to commit
to theoretical and experimental work to develop a “practical and low-cost video recorder
that would lead to mass market”. They didn’t know exactly how they were gonna do it, and
they had many potential paths to pursue, but gosh darn it, they knew they wanted something
ready. And soon. So. What went wrong? If the capacitance effect
was discovered in 1959, and they had committed to a video player in 1964, how could it possibly
have taken until 1981 to bring this product to market? Well, lots of things went wrong. From
corporate politics, to an appearance from their arch nemesis, to outright mismanagement,
nearly everything you can think of to delay this project was about to occur. And we’ll
talk about that in part 4. Thanks for watching, I hope you found this
video to be as interesting as I find this story to be fascinating. Today, I have a very
special thanks to make at the end of this video. Much of the information in this video
came from this incredible book by Margaret B. W. Graham. When you look around online
for information on the CED, it leads you to believe that much of it is lost to history.
But no! There’s so much to know in just this one book, and it’s filled with incredible
context, gets into all the nuance, and paints a delightfully detailed picture. I’ll of
course be finishing this story here on this channel, but if anyone wants to know even
more about the CED, much more than I could ever fit into a video – or four – track down a copy of
this book. Much of it is accessible on Google books, but not all of it, and truthfully I don’t know if it’s even still in print. But hopefully, if enough people buy some copies, Cambridge University Press will make another run. And as always, thank you to everyone supporting
this channel through Patreon, especially the fine folks scrolling up your screen. It would
not be possible to make videos like this without knowing I had your support. If you’d like
to join these awesome folks, check out the link in the description or stick around until
the endscreen. Thanks for your consideration, and I’ll see you next time! ♫ unrepentantly smooth jazz ♫ …time university atmosphere to a properate
corporate enti… properate? Proper. … long-time university atmosphere to a properate… I just said properate again! As you may imagine, this caused problems!
The same factions of entreje… (clears throat in an entirely over-the-top fashion) Part three of the video s… no. I don’t like how that started. I don’t like it! …not only the videocassette recorders coming in from Japan, but al… (more throat clearing) (even more throat clearing) Nope! Since it’s already been…(pauses) why did you stop? For an explanation of.. Augh, well I had…
I didn’t wanna… aughbleugh (weird noise) They had signs hanging up that said, read… augh! I’M FREE! No longer am I forced to just parrot everything that guy on the screen says! I’ve found my own voice! I’m gonna start a new life! Maybe write a book, talk about all the crap I had to do for the last 25 minutes. “The Hardships of Captionman” It’ll be a best-seller!

Comments 100

  • Hey everyone! I want to give a thanks and shout-out to Nathaniel Cole Alexander for an excellent thumbnail improvement! Hopefully you clicked on this video because of that absolutely groovy masterpiece!

  • YOU BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING!!

  • BRING ON PART 4! This is a perfect example of my favorite YouTube video. Never stop making videos. I love you ❤️

  • Sometimes when I cast videos to chromecast captions randomly turn on. I'm glad they did this time.

  • Video: Here is some long text to read
    Me, trained by thousands of videos where text just flashes: press pause
    Me, finished reading: press play
    Video: "here's plenty of time for you to read this text"

    Thanks for being thoughtful to your viewers! Your videos are always a treat

  • If radios were the iphone of the 20s…..what was the virtual boy of the 1910s or 20s?

  • Thats great and all but teletext!

  • Wow. That roll credit music is really good. I relieved the 90s everytime

  • What a fantastic series!I have been watching little chunks of it before work in the morning. The thing that really stands out to me is what RCA has become today. I had no idea they had such an amazing history and were so vital in some very prominent technology’s. seems a shame today all there know for is slapping there name on cheap flat screen TVs

  • CED = Compulsive Embarrassing Delays ?

  • Haha I regratted watching this video as i do care more about technical stuff,but still ,,it’s an interesting story.

  • WHY DID I NOT GET NOTIFICATION FOR THIS. CURSE YOU, YOUTUBE ALHORITHMS!

  • I'm kinda hoping there will be a part 5.

  • Techmoan beat you to it on this one! That's OK tho, everything has already been covered by someone at this point. I do encourage anyone interested in this stuff to check out Techmoan if you haven't already. His content is ALMOST as good as Technology Connections!

  • The cutaway whiplash is real.

  • Part 12 confirmed?

  • Absolutely fabulous video, I wouldn’t have cared if it was an hour long.

  • 0:15 Man, I wanted to tell you this some time ago but I held it and held it some more. Now it's time: dont torture yourself (and wreck our train of thoughts) with breathless long phrases. It's really unpleasant to listen (figure a teacher trying to barf a long phrase for 3 minutes, it defeats the purpose) and sounds unnecesarily overdone. Please scrap this habit of yours and draw the full stops where they should be. The themes are all amazing to watch, we learn something interesting every time (the LCCS was something entirely new even for me in my neck of the woods).

  • Me at 24 minutes…. "YOU BASTARD! How long is this gonna go on? Should I count on this like a season of a show with constant cliffhangers?"

    Seriously though, great job, my friend! Talking about RCA and it's trials and tribulations (including it's successes) is not an easy job to do – almost every product they produced throughout their history has a lot of context and perspective that does take a lot of time to get through. Just keep in mind my 50th birthday is Sunday (03-Nov) so who knows how much time I might have left to finally see the conclusion of the CED story??!? 🙂

  • Philo Farnsworth invented the first electronic Television not RCA. RCA stolen his invention

  • Is it just me or does this guy look like max headroom?

  • U should release this entire RCA CED series on to DVD.

  • U think RCA could have squeezed 2 hrs per side of the CED disc by simply slowing down the RPM speed???

  • You may have forgotten that the TV picture tube and camera tube was not invented by RCA. In fact it was Farnsworth that invented it and was the first contract that required RCA to pay patent royalties to another company instead of collect them.

  • With out all the real geniuses to rip off and to copy from Sarnoff fails and takes down RCA with him, fuck Sarnoff he was a cheat and a failure and should be remembered as the father of the modern day CEO

  • I had one and the video quality was bad . And the disks skipped alot.

  • I’m sad you didn’t grab the low hanging fruit. You flashed RIP IRPCO on the screen instead of RIPCO. 🙁

  • I’m very surprised there’s a typo in the blurbs on the back of the book. Cambridge University Press is not a bunch of goofballs. How did they miss “fpr”?

  • Lol I actually could care less about the CED, I just like your videos.
    And it's cool to know the rough history and journey technology has made over the years. Also I like to try and adapt technology for use in my DnD campaign, as I am an inventive cleric and I need to bring innovation to the realm!

  • So the title of this video should have been the title of video 4…. the entire reason I watched this video… I want my time back.

  • You could make for us a series about the hystory of photography. It would be really nice and i'd be glad to watch it!

  • Great vid as usual! I learn so much from this channel. Keep it up!

  • I love your Channel. It is great

  • Patents stifling innovation and progress? Who'd of thought! 🙃

  • I forgot Teletext wasn't the same thing as closed captioning.

  • Image rca unloading it's failure on the poor $ unsuspecting Midwestern public 15 years after the relative success of the far and vastly superior lasar disc ! Have to admit it takes quite the crooked sales rep to pull off such a large scale scam. Berny Madoff, Donald Trump….. guess Barnum was right . "There's a sucker born every minute " and W.C.Fields "never give a sucker an even break "😎

  • Your outro music has the feel of a 70's TV program. Is it? Was it? It reminds me of the original The Office, it's not that, but that feel of a rainy Monday in Slough.

  • thank you for your hard work and reserch, this is a topic with far reachin influence as you said, tecnologi improvments always shape our mind generation after generation, so its really importan that we inform ourself about the ways it happened

  • It's ok, Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Trilogy is five books long.

  • this channel is top

  • Build House? Just Spray' Em. 10:16 That's the video you should be making.

  • Thank you, everybody, for supporting him.

  • NGL, I actually flinched when that banjo started playing out of nowhere.

  • Wow! A history lesson AND a tech lesson. Awesome! I was gripped as your walked us through it all!

  • You SOB that credit roll actually got me lmao, excellent vid as always!

  • @10:23 “Build Houses? Just Spray ‘Em”

  • I knew the area at 15:51 looked familiar. I had no clue RCA had offices in Cherry Hill.

  • Wow! I love when a topic is this well researched and the story is as amazing as this one. I can't wait for the rest of it.

  • I really enjoyed the early history part. Great synopsis.

  • your videos aren't showing on my new vids on my subs section and i hate it!

  • 24:19 so your saying WE live in the alternate timeline

  • In regards to the book, there was also a long and interesting video about the story of RCA and color television, but i don't remember what it was called. You would like that.

  • Please. Russia and Russian Empire are as same, as Roman Empire and the city of Rome. David Sarnoff was not born in Russia. He was born in Belarus, that was part of Russian Empire at that time. Come on. Stop calling Russia everything between Germany and China.

  • Getting kinda sick of the CED now…

  • 13:16 George Heilmeier!!! RIP my friend. A fellow Penn Engineer, I had the pleasure of sitting on the same board with George for 6 years until his death in 2014. A scholar and a gentleman.

  • Fantastic job on this series, congrats!

  • Good video! I love corporate antics and the history of the manufacturers just as much as the techonogical breakdowns

  • I think you should do the audio book version of that book

  • Facilitating fundamental research was the reason the US was ahead most countries during that time (of course being devastated by a previous war wasn't beneficial for the competitors too). In the late 1980s the US government conducted a study to finde the reason the US was falling behind now. And it was simple: fundamental research was neglected as it didn't look profitable in the short run. Everyone wanted to make money right away not in a few decades. And the government didn't invest enough. Well…

    Again I really enjoyed your video although. Tech and companies I've never heard of before. 😀

    I like the letter. 10.000 seconds is not very much 😀

  • So grateful for this video. I hope for more just like this!

  • Four parts?!?! Inconceivable (apply Princess Bride/Sylvester the Cat accent)!!!

  • Gosh, I feel like I'm reading one of those clickbait pages that, 20 chapters in, never gets to the point so I just go read the Wikipedia article instead. PLEASE get to "why" in the next video!

  • Hi, here you've given lots of information! Thanks for that. From today's sight I find it impossible to create research labs all over the country which work independantly. It's a scientists paradise, but if one days this construct should come under one hat and do research after given problems the employees might not like that. Connection had to be made at first. Maybe RCA had developed some kind of 'internet' years before it actually was established to connect the labs. I'll watch out for part IV.

  • I've been watching this vid thinking there was something wrong with me eyes and then realised that the camera is focused on the items on the shelves and your face is slightly out of focus.

    Damned technology and damned RCA patent snaffling.

  • https://www.pcgamer.com/meet-the-vhd-a-failed-laserdisc-competitor-and-the-biggest-damn-floppy-disk-ever/

    is this the Japanese CED?

  • Not gonna lie RCA sounds awful even by corporation standards. With roots in ownership to United Fruit to profiting off tons of patents, yikes

  • OOPS! Visual only I think! I didn't catch the name of the book. But I did enjoy the video very much. Thanks!

  • Been loving this series.

    Next you should delve into lamination machines! You know, encasing something between two plastic sheets.

  • SHUT UP AND TAKE MY ATTENTION!

  • Hey, Alec (or anyone else who is qualified to answer this), I have a question.

    Is it possible to draw, say, an autograph on the bottom of an optical disk if the color of the marker more or less matches that of the laser reading it? I think it would be neat to do that.

  • Amazing research. How do you ever come b y it or find it? I just love learning about the historical development of technology and consumer products, especially obscure and rare ones.

  • Where’s Part 4? 🤔

  • The Japanese and Matsushita in particular had a lot to contribute to the fall of RCA and other US radio companies.
    There's a great Frontline episode from 1992 that talks about this. "Coming from Japan".

  • Sounds like you have a lot more videos to do on the history of RCA

  • anyone notice the dick castle in the background its in the green square 8:17

  • So…the company gets big.
    Then it gets bigger.
    Then it gets so big it splits into R&D and Marketing
    Then those splits start to hate each other and fracture apart.
    And because those two parts kinda need each other, the company falls apart.
    Is that about the TL;DR Version?

  • Jokes on you T.C. for taking my attention! Behold the power of, THE PAUSE BUTTON!

  • Dat Pinkie Pie air intake though… 😀

  • United Fruit became latter just"Apple" 😄😀

  • You need to stop smoking, even though you look like you would never be 10 feet away from a cigarrete.

  • This was a great video. My Dad was an engineer at the RCA Labs in Princeton towards the end of RCA. It is interesting as that model of inventing and licensing patents mentality at those labs lasted long past when RCA ceased to exist and the labs sold off to Stanford. When we would get to go to work with him it was fun to see the museum they had there. So glad to see a video that talks a lot about the labs 😀

  • Think you can investigate about the story of AM, FM and MW and all its derivatives, mono, stereo and quadraphonic radio some day? o:

    Been reading about it in Wikipedia (duh!) and found it fascinating and probably material for several videos as well…

  • When I first came across your channel, I thought that the videos were going to be boring due to the subject matter. However, I was surprised at how informative the videos were and how much fun I was having watching them! This is awesome stuff man. Thank you for making them. I've learned a lot and I appreciate the humor as well.

  • This video is a disaster.
    I only "watched" it because I left it on in the background, while literally falling asleep.
    (And I actually watch 2-hours vids on the regular.)

  • 21:55 Holy Jesus, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I fell asleep (not because I find the video boring but because I'm really, really tired) and then this sudden melody replacing your soothing voice woke me up with a shock.

  • Love these videos! Keep it up!

  • RCA: the original patent troll

  • Great video. Any time you want to spend lots of time on tech corporate history it's fine with me, I'm guaranteed to watch. LGR's Tech Tales is another example.

  • 0:15 only re-watched that part about.. 12 times.

  • Dammit! There is part four?

  • 22:25, you are welcome

  • Nice T-shirt, btw!

  • David snaroff was a crook!!

  • Lol, A little history will imply:
    GE = DoD
    AT&T = NSA
    Westinghouse = Nuclear energy commision
    United Fruit = CIA

  • Wow that's very impressive! For perspective $358 million 1924 dollars is probably over $5 billion in today's dollars.

  • Why on Earth was United Fruit involved??

  • Please do a video on electronic air-conditioners, they sound interesting. Thank you.

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