See Yourself on Color TV

The way "See Yourself..." was handled was particularly fascinating. At the time, both color cameras and tape machines were huge behemoths weighing several hundred pounds each. What RCA did was to line up three video tape machines. The 2-inch-wide tape came off the supply reel of the first machine which recorded the visitor's image. Then it went to a second machine through a series of rollers. The second machine gave a delayed playback of the visitor in black and white. Then the tape went through rollers to a third machine that gave a further delayed playback in color (and also had the take-up reel).

Behemoth of a camera records visitors so they can "See Themselves on Color TV!"

SOURCE: © 2005 Wayne Bretl, personal collection June/July 1965

Video camera in RCA Pavilion

Visitors stepped onto a turntable that carried them past the camera where they could squint through the bright lights to see themselves "live." Then, as they were carried around the turntable, surprise! - A delayed playback in black and white and a second delayed playback in color! WOW! For the time, this was marvelous. The plans described in the October, 1963 Broadcast News show only one delay stage and no turntable. So the more elaborate scheme must have been developed a bit later. The turntable obviously solved the problem of getting people to the second and third playback at the right time and also set the pace of movement through this feature of RCA's exhibits.

Three chances to "See Yourself..." (top) Live (middle) in black & white via tape delay (bottom) and in living color, again on tape delay.

SOURCE: © 2005 Wayne Bretl, personal collection June/July 1965

Live Broadcast

Black & White tape delay

Color tape delay

A final view of RCA's detailed cutaway model. This view shows details of the auditorium and "hi-fi Listening Room." Walkway bridge over the control room has also been set in place and shows how visitors could see the control room from both sides of the bridge.

SOURCE: New York Sunday News Magazine, April 12, 1964
presented courtesy Bradd Schiffman Collection
Cutaway model

webmasters note: Tom McKeever writes: Having just looked at your web site about the RCA Pavilion in the ’64 World’s Fair I thought I might add an interesting tidbit. A few weeks ago I was listening to audio cds from NBC News’ coverage of the Gemini 5 space mission, June 1965. During the coverage NBC News correspondent Peter Hackes was at the [RCA] Pavilion along with NBC’s full scale mockup of the Gemini 4 space craft. He did live on-air reports during the mission explaining crucial events that were occurring onboard the craft. For the remaining 8 Gemini missions Mr. Hackes and the Gemini mockup were at Studio 8-H in the RCA Bldg. It was a great live promo NBC did for RCA back then. Tom McKeever, via email 1/03/2010.

Webmaster's note- Many thanks to Wayne Bretl for bringing RCA to Wayne's personal photos of the interior of the pavilion and the "See Yourself..." exhibit bring back more memories than any of my reproduced brochures could ever bring. If you'd like to contact Wayne and share your memories of seeing yourself on Color TV, you may do so at Many thanks to Bill Cotter, Mike Kraus and Bradd Schiffman for their contributions as well.

-Bill Young, February 2004