Kinescopes - when did they stop making them?

A friend and I were checking to see where one could find a copy of the late Anne Bancroft’s TV special “Annie: the woman in the life of a man”. It showed in 1970.

The UCLA Film and TV Archives has a copy of it on kinescope.

I would have thought by that time kinescopes were a thing of the past. Has the practice of making them disappeared by now?

And if you watch a kinescope now, what medium is it being shown on? Is the kinescope transferred back to videotape?

THe kinescope

In the 40’s & 50’s, kinescopes were made on movie film (nearly all shows were done in New York) and shipped out the the west coast. I’ve been watching “What’s My Line” on GSN and it’s all kinescopes (they’re up to early 1957). The sound and picture are not bad considering the show is 50 years old.

Ones you see today were likely transferred to video.

As videotape became more widespread in the 1960s, kinescoping broadcasts became increasingly rare. The reasons included the desire for a “permanent” copy of a special program, and to serve the decreasing number of local stations that didn’t own videotape recorders.

Kinescopes were still being made occasionally into the early early 1970s, but the expense of film and the increasing quality of videotape killed the practice at about that time. The show you’ve found is probably one of the last of the kinescopes.

Here are some interesting links about kinescopes:

Link. (see second article)

ABC was supplying kinescope films of Dark Shadows episodes as late as 1969 to small-scale affiliates that didn’t have videotape machines but wanted to show Dark Shadows at a different time than the network did. Lucky for Dark Shadows fans, those film negatives were kept, and later in syndication were substituted for episodes whose videotapes were missing. Thus we have a virtually complete run* of a daytime soap opera from the 1960s, the only such instance.

  • One episode is missing, but has been re-created using an audio recording and still photographs.

The Sony U-matic videocassette recorder, first available in the U.S. in 1972, killed off the last of the kinescope filming.

Do you have a cite for this, Walloon? I ask because I was using U-matic machines (in a non-broadcast setting) from shortly after their introduction, and in the beginning they were not considered broadcast capable, at least among the technical folks I knew (who included the engineers at the Maryland public TV network). Until digital time-base correctors came along (in the late 1970s, IIRC) a picture from a U-matic tape deck couldn’t have been stabilized and cleaned up enough to meet broadcast standards, and it would have looked significantly worse in terms of resolution than a kinescope or 2-inch tape, as well. So I don’t see how it could have replaced kinescopes for any practical application, such as delivering programs to affiliates.

ABC stopped producing kinescope films for its affiliates in 1969 because by then even the smaller stations could handle two-inch tape. Kinescope filming continued a while longer for use by others who didn’t have two-inch vidoetape machines — individuals (such as those who acted in, produced, or directed the programs), educational institutions, and businesses (such as advertisers). The lower cost of videocassettes for the Sony U-matic compared to two-inch tape, and its relatively high quality compared to its predecessors, opened up that market, and the U-matic became ubiquitious at colleges and high schools, business trade shows, the armed forces, airlines, and for home and office use by those in the television industry.