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What a Take Away?

nbc history

The National Broadcasting Company was incorporated on September 9, 1926 under the laws of Delaware.1 It was a corporation owned jointly by RCA (50%), GE (30%), and Westinghouse (20%).1 The NBC network began broadcasting on November 15 of the same year from studios WEAF in New York City. There was a combined group of nineteen scattered affiliated stations, using more than 3500 circuit miles of telephone wires.2

NBC 711 Fifth Avenue NYC

At the end of a program the NBC announcer would read the call letters of all the NBC stations carrying the program. As the network added more stations this became impractical and would cause some confusion among the affiliates as to the conclusion of network programming and when the station break should occur on the hour and half-hour. Some sort of coordinating signal was needed to signal the affiliates for these breaks and allow each affiliate to identify. Three men at NBC were given the task of finding a solution to the problem and coming up with such a coordinating signal. These men were; Oscar Hanson, from NBC engineering, Earnest LaPrada, an NBC orchestra leader, and Phillips Carlin, an NBC announcer.

Earnest LaPrada
A set of hand dinner chimes was purchased from the Lesch Silver Co. of Manhattan for $48.5013 and during the years 1927 and 1928 these men experimented with a seven note sequence of chimes, G-C-G-E-G-C-E, which proved too complicated for the announcers to consistently strike in the correct order, so the sequence was reduced to four notes G-G-E.23 Sometime later two Gs were dropped and a C added to become the three notes G-E-C.23 These three notes were first broadcast on November 29, 1929, the notes were struck at 59 minutes 30 seconds, and 29 minutes 30 seconds past the hour.3

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