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The Ampex Video Cruiser

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Uploaded on Jun 14, 2009

Robert W. Day:
Growing up in Depression-weary Oakland, California, Bob Day worked a variety of jobs to help the family, but he soon found he had an unusual gift for radio. Even as a young man, his rich bass voice commanded attention and his ability to "rip-and-read" with ease moved him ahead of more senior announcers.

A familiar figure in Bay Area radio during the 1950s, he hosted KGO-TV's "San Francisco Sketchbook," and later the popular "Success Story" series on live television. After that show's Ampex episode, he was lured away from broadcasting to introduce the video tape recorder with a nationwide tour in the "Ampex Video Cruiser," a 40-ft custom bus with cameras, the video tape machine, a crew of ten people and five-thousand vacuum tubes.

As the voice of Ampex, Bob Day continued as corporate story-teller, using television produced on video tape -"teleproduction"- on and off the Ampex campus for the next 35 years. Many of today's production techniques were pioneered a quarter-century ago by Day trying to tell a fresh story in the competition- charged cauldron of NAB's four-day grind. Techniques such as interactive video, quick-cut editing, synchronized multi-screen presentations... were pioneered in analog with just a typewriter, a stopwatch and what George Bush would later call "the vision thing!"

His brand of story-telling, which began on radio as just a voice in the dark, went on to illuminate television's transition from "staged" to "stored" images. It is widely acknowledged that Bob Day's work influenced other creative minds to enrich the vocabulary of video production.

On June 28, 1994, he died peacefully in his sleep. He was a loyal friend, a good guy who suffered fools with compassion. He never missed a cue and he always knew his lines.

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