Number One Hundred
Since May 29, we’ve been waiting anxiously for someone to report that another CT-100 has survived the pitfalls and landfills of the last half a century. Who takes the 100th slot in the Living CT-100 list? That’s what I’ve been waiting to learn these last seven weeks.
Well, as you can surmise, it just happened, and here’s the actual story as it unfolded early in the evening, today, Sunday July 18, 2004.
I was sitting in my 3-door Ford Focus ZX3, parked just off the Asbury Park circle (a New Jersey intersection abomination left over from the 1930’s when there was no real automotive traffic), waiting for my son to pick up a couple of Papa John’s pizzas. My cell rang. It was historian Ed Reitan in Los Angeles huddled around a couple of CT-100’s with Steve Dichter and Steve Kissinger. They were describing a CT-100 being brought to life after decades in stasis.
"There’s raster… the red is weak… what happened to the high voltage… looks like the AGC went south… hey, there’s high voltage again… aha, the red’s strong this time…."
So, for a dozen minutes, there in a little ZX3 (BTW, big enough to stuff a complete, albeit disassembled, CT-100 into), I became part of the CT-100 excitement generated by that electrified trio in California. It was a classic vintage TV thrill. But there’s more.
The CT-100 in question is serial number B8003708. Its near-mint cabinet, insert, and lid serial numbers all a match at 713. That strongly suggests the set is in its factory-original configuration.
This Merrill is the Jack Webb CT-100. Until recently, it was not widely remembered that one early episode of “Dragnet” was filmed in color. It was the Christmas 1953 episode about a sacred object stolen from a church. The program is still around. Chuck Azzalina reports seeing the episode in reruns now and again, but only in black and white.
Jack Webb had brand-new CT-100 B8003708 in his home because that one 1953 “Dragnet” episode was actually broadcast occasionally, at least in the Los Angles area, in NTSC color.
I’m proud to report that the one-hundredth known surviving RCA CT-100 color television set has been added to the Living CT-100 list, and it is the Jack Webb set.
Current caretaker: Ed Reitan.
Current status: partial restoration.