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Charles P. Ginsburg


Charles P. Ginsburg born on July 27, 1920 in San Francisco, California. Ginsburg was an engineer that worked on the research team at Ampex, where he helped developed the first videotape recorder. When Ginsburg was four years old he was diagnosed with diabetes and lucky for him insulin was discovered just two years before. Besides the diabetes, he has a pretty normal childhood and after graduating high school, he enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley as a premed student. Two years later he changed his major to animal husbandry but ran out of money and dropped out in 1940. For the next sixteen years, Ginsburg worked various jobs, which lead to him finding the field that would make him famous.


One of jobs that Ginsburg held during his hiatus from college was as a sound technician, which we worked in 1942. He then went on to work as a transmitter and studio engineer at a company in San Francisco called Associated Broadcasters, Inc. During his work at Associated Broadcasters, Inc., he went back to school and graduated from San Jose State College in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and mathematics. Before and after graduating, Ginsburg worked at KQW as a transmitter engineer until he got the call from Ampex in 1951.


Founder and president of Ampex Alexander Poniatoff thought that Ginsburg would be the perfect person to take lead on a project to create a tape machine that would record TV. His team of researchers were in competition with big companies like RCA to come up with the first magnetic tape machine. The team figured out that instead of having the tape run at high speeds on fixed heads, that would work better if the heads had rotating wheels that moved them fast and the tape slow. The company 3M gave them their first videotape that they could record on. By the time it was done in 1956, the prototype was ready and recorded in black and white. In November of that year the first newscast was recorded and played. Douglas Edwards and the News were recorded a couple hours before it’s broadcast.


Ginsburg has made possible for people to record on a VHS player. This was an essential in the early days before DVRs, people could record their shows on a VHS tape and watch it later. Ginsburg made this possible and is one of first engineers help shape the way we record and watch things.

 
 

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