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Courtesy of John Pinckney
Early Television Stations

W3XE / WPTZ - Philadelphia

W3XE was first granted permission to operate an experimental station in 1932, but actually began experimenting with this new medium as far back as 1928.

As an experimental station in 1932, channel 3, then operated out of the Philco company plant at C & Tioga Streets. Founded by the Philco Corporation, the station first broadcast into homes of 100 of the company's employees, mostly engineers. As the Philco engineers tinkered with the new technology, the station aired employee talent shows and travelogues to enable them to check the quality of the broadcast signal.

In 1939, W3XE, telecast the first college night football game, Temple University versus Kansas, and the following year started regular telecasts of the University of Pennsylvania home games, which continued up until 1951. 

New ground continued to be broken into the forties as channel 3 aired 60 hours of the 1940 Republican National Convention, the first major coverage of a national political conclave. The signal was sent to the station's tower, then located at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania to Princeton, New Jersey, and then onto the Empire State Building from which NBC broadcast it nationally.

In 1941, the station was granted a commercial TV license with the call sign WPTZ. This was Pennsylvania's first commercial station and the country's second. In1942 Channel 3 aired "Last Year's Nest," the first TV soap opera ever.

In 1941, viewers saw the first telecast of the Mummers Parade, and was treated to a six-part serial drama in 1942, "Last Year's Nest." This drama was produced in Philadelphia and telecast nationally.

In 1946, channel 3 got its first commercial sponsor, the Atlantic Richfield Company, which sponsored Penn football. The Gimbel Brothers became the station's first full-show sponsor with "All Eyes on Gimbels." The first half of the show was product demonstrations and tips, and the second half of the show was a kiddie's program where a company of talented youngsters sang and danced.

In 1953 Channel 3 beccame the first local station in the country to televise a commercial color program, a Walt Disney special.

Here are an article by William Parker, articles about Connie Mack on W3XE and a 1939 advertisement.

 

An early camera

The control room

Visual monitor and transmitter control room

The transmitting antenna in 1940

From Radio & Television Magazine, April, 1940

1944

Romper Room (1946)

1947 Program Schedules