RCA’s technology lives on today on television, radio, radio and more.

Tech fans of a certain age will remember the letters RCA and how dominant the company once was.

RCA, originally known as Radio Corp. of America, was the company that 100 years ago helped give birth to radio and then paved the way for television, broadcasting and recorded music. At the time, he also popularized VCRs.

And while today RCA is a shell of itself, living only as a trademark available for license, it is good to remember that “the technology invented then still exists today” , says Tim Sarnoff. He is the grandson of the founder, David Sarnoff, a Russian immigrant who arrived in America in 1900 and who forever changed the way we communicate.

“My grandfather looked to the future and made it happen,” says Tim Sarnoff, deputy managing director of Technicolor, the Hollywood company that owns the RCA brand. “All the fundamentals were created by RCA.”

David Sarnoff worked for the firm Marconi Wireless, one of the early pioneers of telegrams. RCA bought the company and Sarnoff moved with it, encouraging RCA to explore new radio technology. This led to the creation of radio stations, and then Red and Blue TV stations, which became NBC and ABC. RCA also owned Hertz Rent-a-Car, Banquet frozen foods and the Random House publishing house.

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Today we live in a different world from the David Sarnoff era where television is all about programming on demand, via streaming or time-lapse viewing.

Tom Sarnoff, David’s 92-year-old son, said David would be “impressed” by the changes. “The way the world is now all together was his dream. He wanted to connect everyone, especially on the news and information side.”

Tom recounts how the news was passed on during David’s childhood. Either through the newspapers or by walking to the next town to spread the word. “So by the time you arrived, the news was one day old.” Radio, he adds, “brought the world into everyone’s living room.”

RCA was originally owned by General Electric, which sold the company in the 1930s and then bought it out in 1986 for $ 6.2 billion.

GE then sold the various divisions, including RCA Records, which housed Elvis Presley, David Bowie and Jefferson Airplane, as well as television and radio manufacturing.

RCA Records is currently owned by Sony and features artists such as Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. NBC is now owned by Comcast Corporation, which is home to the world’s largest cable TV operation, Universal Studios and the theme park.

Unlike today’s Internet millionaires, the Sarnoff family “lived comfortably, but we weren’t billionaires,” says Tim Sarnoff. “We didn’t want for anything.

According to a 1971 New York Times obituary, David Sarnoff received a salary of $ 200,000 per year during his reign and was a significant shareholder. He apparently did not have enough stocks to endow his Internet heirs like several million.

Today, many people don’t realize how important RCA was to the music we listen to, the TV shows we watch, and the radio stations we call.

“It’s a little depressing,” Tom admits. “When I was young, RCA dominated television and radio. Everyone knew what RCA was. Today you will find very few people who knew what RCA was.”

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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