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Early Television Stations

W2XAB/W2XAX/WCBW - CBS, New York

W2XAB began transmission in 1931 using equipment furnished by RCA. Their inaugural broadcast was on July 21, 1931. The camera was a 60 line flying spot scanner, and the receivers operated in the 2-3 mHz band, where reception was possible over long distances. In 1937 the station began broadcasting electronic TV on channel 3 as W2XAX.. In 1941 the call sign was changed to WCBW, and after the war, it became WCBS. Here are program schedules and an article in the AWA Journal by Richard Brewster. Here is a 1932 article about the station.

The transmitter and the Supervisor's desk.

The W2XAB studio, showing the photocells and a microphone. The scanner is in a separate room behind the hole in the middle of the photocells.

 

The camera, with Natalie Towers in front of it.

Everyday Science and Mechanics, November 1931

In 1937, W2XAB/W2XAX switched from mechanical to electronic broadcasting. A transmitter and antenna were put on the Chrysler Building in Manhattan, while the studios were located in the Grand Central building.

Radio World, November 1937

Communications, November 1938

Broadcasting, February 15 1938

Broadcasting, November 15 1939

Broadcasting, April1 1 1939

 

 

Worthington Miner, left, directing. Notice the huge number of fluorescent lights directly over the set

Courtesy of Steve Dichter 

 

The control room in 1941 control room, with pioneer CBS director Worthington Miner, center, at the microphone

Courtesy of Steve Dichter

CBS studio, 1944

CBS studio, 1944

First U.S. broadcast of a jazz group on W2XAB (1939)

 

Radio & Television Magazine, April, 1940

 

Radio & Television Magazine, April, 1940

 

Radio & Television, July 1941

 

New York Times, January 10, 1942

Courtesy of John Pinckney

 

 

Program schedule for Jan. 29, 1942

Television programs of the Columbia Broadcasting System go on the air Thursdays over WCBW on channel 2. Test patterns from 7:30 to 8 o'clock are followed by films until 10 P.M. This schedule will be continued indefinitely, according to director Worthington Miner, as long as the available materials and manpower hold out. Technical manpower shortages, he said, are the most pressing need and will determine WCBW's future.

For those who have home television receivers not in operating condition, the service outlook is "something less than bright." Skilled men are not available to "fix" ailing sets; neither are replacement materials. It is therefore estimated that the 1,000 to 2,000 receivers now inoperative in this area are likely to remain so indefinitely. This is the only "bad" news current in television circles.

New York Times, October 17, 1943

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