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MkII Image Orthicon Camera

Page history last edited by David Samways 6 years, 2 months ago







Copy provided by Paul Marshall ex Marconi Engineer.


After the Second World War, the Marconi Company dissolved its partnership in television with EMI and began its own independent manufacture of television cameras through its historic relationship with RCA in the United States of America. This led to the introduction in 1948 of a British version of the RCA TK30 camera using the very complex, but very sensitive, Image Orthicon camera tube.  This high sensitivity made it ideal for low-light conditions as often found on outside broadcasts.  The American design was improved and adapted for British manufacture and by 1950 the Marconi MkII was being produced in small quantities at the company’s principal facility in Chelmsford, Essex.  These were, of course, very expensive hand-built items and each would have cost the equivalent of a new house.


Between 1950 and 1955 around 110 of these cameras were made in Chelmsford.  Approximately half that number sold in the United Kingdom (mainly to the BBC), with the balance exported around the world as the deployment of broadcast television services spread.


By the standards of the time, the camera offered excellent pictures in all light conditions, coupled with high reliability and versatility.  When adapted to use the new zoom lens technology developed in the United Kingdom by companies such as Watson & Son of Barnet, it represented the ‘state of the art’ in television technology and a showcase for British television engineering.  In 1952, with HM the Queen’s Coronation approaching in the following year, it was not surprising that the Marconi MkII camera became the bedrock of the BBC’s engineering response to the needs of its planned television coverage.


Further information on the MkII camera can be viewed here.





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