RCA - Radio Corporation of America

RCA - Radio Corporation of America

RCA aka: the Radio Corporation of America is renown as an electronics company that made a wide variety of consumer products like TVs, radios, etc... I was hesitant to give them a "console maker" page since they have only a small entry into gaming consoles, but the Studio II is a pretty interesting console with built in controllers and a cartridge slot for adding additional games.

Featured RCA Video Game Consoles

RCA overview

RCA logo

RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is used by Sony Music Entertainment and Technicolor, which licenses the name to other companies like Audiovox and TCL Corporation for products.

History

General Electric bought the American Marconi company and then incorporate what would be called the Radio Corporation of America.GE used RCA as its retail arm for radio sales from 1919, when GE began production, until 1930. Westinghouse also marketed home radios through RCA until 1930

In 1929, RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, then the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs (including the famous "Victrola") and phonograph records. This included a majority ownership of the Victor Company of Japan (JVC). The new subsidiary then became RCA-Victor. With Victor, RCA acquired New World rights to the Nipper trademark. This Trademark is also the trademark for the British music & entertainment company HMV who now display Nipper in silhouette. RCA Victor produced many radio-phonographs and also created RCA Photophone, a sound-on-film system for sound films that competed with William Fox's sound-on-film Movietone and Warner Bros.' sound-on-disc Vitaphone.

RCA Victor logo

RCA began selling the first electronic turntable in 1930. In 1931, RCA Victor began selling 33 1/3 rpm records. These had the standard groove size (the same width as the contemporary 78 rpm records), rather than the "microgroove" used in post-World War II 33 1/3 "Long Play" records. The format was a commercial failure at the height of the Great Depression, partly because the records and playback equipment were expensive, and partly because the audio performance was poor, and it would require the smaller-radius stylus of the microgroove system to make slower-speed records track acceptably.

The system was withdrawn from the market after about a year. (This was not the first attempt at a commercial long play record format, as Edison Records had marketed a microgroove vertically recorded disc with 20 minutes playing time per side the previous decade; the Edison long-playing records were also a commercial failure.) Also in the Thirties, RCA sold the modernistic RCA Victor M Special, a polished aluminum portable record player designed by John Vassos. It has become an icon of Thirties American industrial design.

In 1930, RCA agreed to occupy the yet-to-be-constructed landmark building of the Rockefeller Center complex, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which in 1933 became known as the RCA building, now the GE Building. This critical lease in the massive project enabled it to proceed as a commercially viable venture.

Separation from General Electric

In 1930, the U.S. Department of Justice brought antitrust charges against RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse. As a result, GE and Westinghouse gave up their ownership interests in RCA. RCA was allowed to keep its radio factories, and GE and Westinghouse were allowed to compete in that business after 30 months.

Electronic television

RCA demonstrated an all-electronic television system at the 1939 New York World's Fair, and developed the USA's first television test pattern. With the introduction of the NTSC standard, the Federal Communications Commission authorized the start of commercial television transmission on 1 July 1941. World War II slowed the deployment of television in the US, but RCA began selling television sets almost immediately after the war was over. (See also: History of television) RCA was closely involved in radar and radio development in support of the war effort. These development efforts greatly assisted RCA in its television research efforts.

RCA TV test pattern

RCA was a major producer of vacuum tubes (branded Radiotron) in the USA, creating a series of innovative products ranging from octal base metal tubes co-developed with General Electric before World War II to the transistor-sized Nuvistor used in the tuners of the New Vista series of television sets.

The Nuvistor tubes were a last hurrah for vacuum tubes and were meant to be a competitive technology against the newly introduced transistors. RCA also partnered with Tung-Sol to produce the legendary KT88/6550 hi-fi vacuum tube. Their combined power in the marketplace was so strong that they effectively set the selling prices for vacuum tubes in the USA. Except for the main cathode ray tube (CRT), the company had completely switched from tubes to solid-state television sets by 1975.

Antitrust concerns led FCC to force the breakup of the NBC radio networks, a breakup affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. On 12 October 1943, the "NBC Blue" radio network was sold to Life Savers candy magnate Edward J. Noble for $8,000,000, and renamed "The Blue Network, Inc". It would become the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1946. The "NBC Red" network retained the NBC name, and RCA retained ownership.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, RCA Corporation, as it was now formally known, ventured into other markets. Under Robert Sarnoff's leadership, RCA diversified far beyond electronics and communications, in a broader American corporate trend toward "conglomerates." The company acquired Hertz (rental cars), Banquet (frozen foods), Coronet (carpeting), Random House (publishing) and Gibson (greeting cards), yet slipped into financial disarray, with wags calling it "Rugs Chickens & Automobiles" to poke fun at their attempt at becoming a conglomerate.

Legacy

RCA antique radios and RCA Merrill/CT-100s and other early color television receivers are among the more sought-after collectible radios and televisions, thanks to their popularity during the golden age of radio, their manufacturing quality, their engineering innovations, their styling and their name, RCA. The historic RCA Building 17 is one of the few remaining buildings in Camden, New Jersey, that once housed the vast RCA Victor complex.

The historic RCA Victor Building 17, the "Nipper Building", in Camden, New Jersey, was converted to luxury apartments in 2003.


Friends of 8-Bit Central Retro Gaming

Old School Junkie Australian Retro Gamer Retro Games Collector Retro Yak Lets Play with A3D Commodore Is Awesome DigiSpun Gamewise

More info about our Retro Gaming Friends & Link Exchange programs »


Printed: