Its on again -- Off again relations with the Broadcast Industry.
Now over five decades old, Ampex Corporation has been involved in broadcast and at the forefront of technology breakthroughs nearly all the way. Their "foot in the door" was the, now legendary, real-to-real audio tape machine found in nearly every radio station from 1950 on. Among Ampex's many contributions are the development of the first practical videotape recorder, the introduction of helical scan recording and the invention of slow motion instant replay.
It is sad to see Ampex making one more turn away from the broadcast industry. According to their current CEO, Ampex has recently decided to refocused its business and is leveraging its core expertise in hopes of becoming a leader in the next stage of Internet development – Internet video.
Through its iNEXTV subsidiary, Ampex has entered several Internet video-related markets, including advertising and commerce-supported original video programming and improved video streaming technology, as well as Webcasting services.
Through what some perceive as gross misdirection of marketing and management, Ampex has gone from a household word in broadcasting to nearly a "has-been." What appears to some as a step in this same direction, Ampex intends to sell its high performance mass data storage operations to help fund this "strategic" redirection, as they call it.
There is little proof that the name, AMPEX was an accident. Approcifa tales aboud that it is the initials of it's founder Alexander M. Poniatoff and the other two letters were suposed to be for "Electric Company," but the C got mistaken for and X. Not a bad mistake.
To help perpetuate what once was, the following is a chronology for milestones Ampex has achieved when it was truly one of the greatest.
Ampex Electric and Manufacturing Company is
American Broadcasting Company uses an Ampex
Model 200 audio recorder for the first-ever U.S. tape
delay radio broadcast of The Bing Crosby Show.
Ampex introduces the first "dedicated"
instrumentation recorder, Model 500, built for the
Ampex introduces the first multi-track audio recorder
derived from multi-track data recording technology.
Ampex introduces the first magnetic theater sound
system, made for Todd/AO CinemaScope.
The Ampex VRX-1000 (later renamed the Mark IV)
videotape recorder is introduced on March 14, 1956,
at the National Association of Radio and Television
Broadcasters in Chicago. This is the world's first
practical videotape recorder and is hailed as a major
technological breakthrough. CBS goes on air with
the first videotape delayed broadcast, Douglas
Edwards and The News, on November 30, 1956,
from Los Angeles, California, using the Ampex Mark
NASA selects Ampex data recorders and magnetic
tape, used for virtually all U.S. space missions
The famous Nixon-Khrushchev "Kitchen Debate"
takes place at the Moscow Trade Fair, and is
captured on an Ampex videotape recorder.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
presents Ampex with an Oscar for technical
Helical scanning recording is invented by Ampex,
the technology behind the worldwide consumer video
revolution, and used in all home VCRs today.
Ampex introduces EDITEC electronic video editing,
allowing broadcast television editors frame-by-frame
recording control, simplifying tape editing and
making animation effects possible. This was the
basis for all subsequent editing systems.
Ampex introduces a new computer peripheral digital
tape transport, the TM-7. Its design far surpasses
previous tape drives, using 80 percent fewer parts
and completely eliminating pinch rollers and brake
Ampex introduces the VR-2000 high-band videotape
recorder, the first ever to be capable of the color
fidelity required for high-quality color broadcasting.
ABC uses the Ampex HS-100 disk recorder for
playback of slow-motion downhill skiing on World
Series of Skiing in Vail, Colorado. Thus begins the
use of slow motion instant replay in sporting events.
Ampex introduces the RG memory. It is a medium
capacity memory with an access time of 350
nanoseconds (less than half of one millionth of a
second) and expandable from medium to very large
capacity (up to 5,000,000 bits) by adding memory
The introduction of the Ampex VR-3000
revolutionizes video recording
Ampex invents magneto-resistive (MR) heads, now
used in advanced computer disk drives.
Ampex introduces the Videofile® system, used by
Scotland Yard for the electronic storage and retrieval
Ampex introduces the ACR-25, the first automated
robotic library system for the recording and playback
of television commercials.
Ampex introduces TBM (TeraBit Memory), a 2-inch
transverse tape-based online digital storage system
for high-performance computing applications.
The first TBM delivered reaches a
never-before-achieved 3 trillion-bit capacity.
Ampex introduces the AVR-2, the first modular
quadruplex recorder/reproducer for professional
broadcasters. It requires one-half to one-third the
operating space required by other quad machines.
Ampex introduces the VPR-1, helical scan, 1-inch
videotape recorder. The VPR-1's successor, the
Type C VPR-2 (1978), becomes the industry
standard for video recording.
Ampex introduces the AST® process, the first
automated scan tracking for variable speed effects,
making slow motion possible directly from tape for
the first time.
Ampex introduces Electronic Still Store (ESS™)
which allows producers to store digital video images
for later editing and broadcast.
Ampex introduces the HBR-3000, the first high-bit
rate, high-density magnetic recorder for logging and
storage of electromagnetic data.
The Ampex Video Art (AVA™) video graphics
system is used by artist Leroy Nieman on air during
Super Bowl XII. AVA, the first video paint system,
allows the graphic artist, using an electronic pen, to
illustrate in a new medium, video. This innovation
paved the way for today's high quality electronic
graphics, such as those used in video games.
Ampex introduces the ADO® system, which creates
digital special effects, allowing rotation and
perspective of video images. This changed forever
the way television material would be manipulated
Ampex introduces the DCRS digital cassette
recorder, offering compact cassette storage with the
equivalent of 16 digital, 14 inch, 8 DDR
instrumentation reels on one cassette.
Partial-response maximum-likelihood (PRML) data
decoding technology has its first use in Ampex's
DCRsi™ recorders. This technology is now
commonly used in high performance computer disk
drives and other high density magnetic data storage
Ampex introduces D-2, the first composite digital
video recording format.
Ampex obtains patent for keepered media, which
adds a soft magnetic layer to magnetic recording
media, increasing the resulting recording capacity.
Ampex introduces its DCT® products, the first digital
component post-production system using digital
image compression technology to produce
unsurpassed quality images. The system includes
the finest videotape recorder ever made, the DCT
Ampex introduces its DST® products,
high-performance computer mass data storage
systems able to store half the contents of the Library
of Congress in 21 square feet of floor space.
Ampex introduces the DIS™ 120i and DIS 160i dual
port, data/instrumentation recorders, making it
possible for the first time to capture real time
instrumentation data and then utilize the same
recorder to process the data in a computer
environment through its second port using SCSI-2
Ampex introduces the new double density DST data
storage product line, offering the highest capacity
data storage system in the industry. The DST 812
robotic library can now store 12.8 terabytes of data,
the entire Library of Congress, in 21 square feet of
Ampex introduces the DST 712 Automated Cartridge
Library System capable of storing up to 5.8
terabytes with an aggregate data transfer rate of up
Fox Television Network becomes the first network to
store its primetime television programs as data files
on DST media and library systems.
Ampex Introduces scalability to the to the DST 712
library system, allowing multiple DST 712 cabinets
to be connected via a simple cartridge pass through
mechanism Multiple libraries can be configured for
almost unlimited capacity.
VR-2000 color VTR
AST® Video Tracking
Type C format development
ESS™ Still Store
ADO® Digital Effects System
VPR-5 (first helical scan portable VTR)
Zeus™ Advanced Video Processor
VPR-3 Videotape Recorder
D-2 video recording technology development
ACR 225 Commercial Spot Player
Presented by the International Teleproduction Society for
outstanding technical achievement
ADO® Digital Effects System
VPR-5 Portable Videotape Recorder
Zeus™ Advanced Video Processor
DCT 700d Digital Tape Drive