Electronic Treasures of the David Sarnoff Collection

Rare artifacts from the Golden Age of radio and television are featured in a new exhibition

1 min read
Electronic Treasures of the David Sarnoff Collection
Photo: Suzanne Kantak

Photo: Suzanne Kantak
Autographed model of Apollo 15 camera (1971):  During the 1960s, RCA continued to develop smaller, lighter-weight color TV equipment. Among the beneficiaries of this work was NASA, which mounted an RCA camera on the lunar rover used during the Apollo 15 mission. The camera could be operated remotely by mission control personnel in Houston. NASA was so pleased with the system’s performance that it asked RCA to supply cameras for the Apollo 16 and 17 missions. The model shown here was signed by the Apollo 15 crew and presented to RCA chairman and CEO Robert Sarnoff; the original camera remains on the moon.

The history of the Radio Corporation of America is in many ways the history of 20th-century American innovation. From the company’s founding in 1919 to its sale in 1986, the RCA name was synonymous with products that shaped how Americans lived and worked. Long before the rise of Silicon Valley, RCA Laboratories, in Princeton, N.J., was at the center of the nation’s consumer electronics industry, harnessing the creative impulses of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians to systematize the invention of new technologies.

In October, a new exhibition highlighting RCA’s rich history opens at the College of New Jersey, in Ewing. It draws from the more than 6000 artifacts that the college inherited after the David Sarnoff Library—RCA’s main technical archive and museum—closed in 2009. (The IEEE Foundation funded a new study center connected to the exhibition.) The installation covers the development of radio, television, and broadcasting, as well as RCA’s work in liquid-crystal displays, electron microscopy, solid-state physics, and computers.

The Conversation (0)