Early Television
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Early Television Museum

Ed Reitan

Ed Reitan's Website

Ed passed away on January 5 in Los Angeles. He was a great supporter of the museum, and he will be greatly missed by his friends in the television collecting community.

Ed's obituary
Richard Wirth article about the restoration of the Fred Astaire Show and The Eisenhower WRC-TV dedication tapes -

Here is a brief summary of his contributions to the technology and history of television, written by Ted Langdell, Secretary of the Quad Videotape Group:

Edwin Howard Reitan, Jr.'s contributions to television history include documenting the development and implementation of early color television, and enabling recovery of the oldest known color Quad videotape recordings, as noted here:


Ed and his colleagues in that endeavor received Emmy awards for the work, which enabled the preservation of significant and historic elements in media history.

Ed Reitan, (center) and Kent (right) watch the playback of their digital restoration inside CBS Television City’s “Jurassic Park” during a tour on July 17, 2006 arranged by CBS engineer/colorist David Keleshian for members of the Telecine Internet Group. Ted Langdell Photo

Early Television

Reitan had to research the RCA Labs heterodyne color process, then apply that knowledge to modify ten boards in an Ampex AVR-1 Quad recorder.  That enabled transfer to D-2 digital videotape of a number of programs recorded in 1958-60 at NBC Burbank, including several Fred Astaire specials.

That led to discussion of the "Eisenhower tape," a copy of which was at the Library of Congress, and which was not in great shape due to repeated use.

Reitan told me in an e-mail, "I came up with the idea to determine if the Eisenhower library had anything and contacted them.  When I recontacted them for a reply I found that they had the second pristine copy.  I then turned it over to (UCLA Archivist Dan) Einstein to  arrange for xfer of the 2-inch tape from Kansas to UCLA."

Reitan held the Ampex AVR-1 in high regard.  Responding to a Quad Videotape Group QuadList post regarding the quality of playback from an AVR-1 and a "Merlinized" Ampex VR-1200 with NEC NT-10 TBC, Retain remarked:

A shoot-off is in order between the AVR-1 and the 2K machines to prove that point.  

However the AVR-1 does it, it does it well - the incredible lack of color banding of any kind (amplitude or color phase) is one of its outstanding virtues. 

During the Astaire restoration I simultaneously fed embryonic video from the AVR-1 through the NEC TBC **, and through the normal path of post- video and TBC processing in the AVR-1.  The final AVR-1 output was superior in color fidelity and stability (in my humble opinion)

The one thing the AVR-1 does not have is a facility for playing heterodyne dub tapes

Ed Reitan

** the NEC TBC had been provided by Ken Zin - thanks Ken !  

Ed's research into early color television was extensive, and found its way to the internet in several ways.  His own website preserves the results of some of that work:

Ed also presented at the Early Television Foundation's annual gathering in Hilliard, Ohio, and with Steve McVoy, maintained a database of surviving color television sets.

As part of the 2014 event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the RCA CT-100 color set, Ed detailed the manufacturing facilities for the set, industry service laboratory assistance and network facilities for color television.

Videos are on-line at the link above.

Reitan received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) and was a PhD candidate in Engineering and Computer Science.

Entering the workforce in 1963, he spent 42 years with what became ITT Gilfillan in the Los Angeles Area, retiring in 2005.

He relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where his endeavors as a historian and researcher continued, as did hands-on work with schematics, circuits and solder.

Details of any services are unknown at this time. Details and links as they become available.

With sadness we didn't get to talk more about his research,



Early Television

About 40 years ago, when Ed got his Model 5

Early Television

A recent photo of Ed in his Westwood, CA apartment, very proud of his weight loss

Early Television

Ed with his CBS field sequential set. This shortly after he got it working.

Early Television

Dan Einstein (left of UCLA TV Archives, Don Kent of KTLA-TV (behind Bob Rosen, the Director of the UCLA Film and Televison Archive at podium) and Ed Reitan (right) recieved an Emmy in 1989 for “Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development (for) Restoration of the Fred Astaire Specials.” As well as the Eisenhower WRC-TV dedication color VTR restoration. 

Pictures Courtesy of Steve Dichter