Charles P. Ginsburg




A native of California, Charles Ginsburg graduated as an engineer from San Jose State University in California in 1948. Ginsburg commenced employment with a San Francisco area radio station, where he worked in day-to-day radio operations. In 1952, Ginsburg was recruited by California-based Ampex Corporation to lead a research team that was seeking to develop a better method for visual recording that could be used for television. The then-current technology was cumbersome, because recordings could not be made except through machines that were required to pass magnetic tape through the recording device at very high speeds, to achieve a desired high frequency result.

The Ampex team lead by Ginsburg built the first videotape recorder (VTR) in 1952, registering a patent for the technology that same year. The VTR permitted the recording of visual images with the magnetic tape moving at regular speed. The VTR proved to be so effective that CBS, the national American television network, incorporated the VTR into all of its productions by 1956. In the 1960s, the VTR was a part of all of the rocket launches conducted by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The VTR was the forerunner to the video cassette recorder (VCR) popularized after 1971 by the Sony Corporation and others.

The development of the VTR had two profound impacts upon the television industry. The first was that the VTR simplified the editing of any television program, because the recording tape could be conveniently replayed to the desired position. The second impact, of particular importance to television and sport, was the ability to provide an instantaneous playback of the recording of a sporting event, in either regular speed or "slow motion." The Ginsburg technology is the technical forerunner of all manner of video replay now used in sport to resolve disputes concerning rulings made during a game or sports event by an official.

Ginsburg's work was much appreciated by the television industry. Ginsburg and the Ampex Corporation received an Emmy award for their contributions to television technology in 1957. Ginsburg was inducted into the United States National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.

SEE ALSO National Football League (NFL).