Backpack TV transmitter from 1951

RCA unveiled the 53 Lb backpack TV transmitter in 1951 -- man, they sure knew how to make a box look sexy and futuristic back then! Link


  1. I like the fact he’s wearing a suit and tie. A far cry from the sweats and polo shirts techs wear today.

    But you know what is also funny? The TV backpacks (tape machines) that some TV crew members wear in the film Dog Day Afternoon. It would be nice to see a survey of backpack tech items from ye olden days.

  2. Someone probably realized that having people that crawl around in tight spaces and work with dangerous equipment wear a suit and tie is a stupid idea. The tie is a choking hazard and the clothes are going to get dirty or ripped.

    From the description of it only transmitting a mile, this seems like it’s intended more as a unit for a news crew to report on location to relay the signal back to the station. Or maybe it was paired with a more powerful transmitter (on a truck or something) that would relay the signal back to the station so the crew could report from farther away.

  3. Am I the only one who thinks it looks like a ray gun?

    …and now that we actually have ray guns, why do they not look like this?!

  4. He looks like a 50’s Ghostbuster. Back then they wore suits and went door to door, and had a proton pack-mounted cross to scare away the minions of Satan.

  5. I know I’ve seen a shot of Mike Wallace in one of those. I believe it was while he was doing interviews from a convention floor. Google has turned up the image yet though.

  6. Even sillier was the nickname for these machines: creepy-peepy (after the walkie-talkie, I suppose, made popular during the war in the previous decade).

  7. The photo was published before the safari jacket became the standard issue uniform for photo journalists.

  8. And now CNN just says, “Send in your cell phone footage!”

    I quietly dream of being the guy who invents the world’s first time machine so that I can send my cell phone back to the ’60s to some engineer’s desk at Bell or PARC or MIT, then see how the present changes.

    “Backpack, eh? Can you play Tetris on it? No? Well, I can. Well I can for 45 seconds until the demo runs up, I’ll be damned if I’m paying 8 bucks for cell phone Tetris…” And on and on…

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