The David Sarnoff Library
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Annual Report - 2001

The David Sarnoff Library enjoys impressive growth in traditional services even as it continues to increase the quantity of and access to its historical resources. The Library has begun public programming and laid the groundwork for strategic and program development as a center for the study, exhibition, and promotion of David Sarnoff's innovative spirit in the advancement of technology.

Continuing a trend from the second half of 2000, strategic development vied for time with these new and traditional activities. The Library responded to significantly higher numbers of inquiries and tours; continued to acquire RCA-related papers and artifacts; designed and developed the Library's website; continued the preservation and cataloging of RCA files; and sponsored an Eagle Scout project to digitize a photo catalog. The director presented scholarly papers at three conferences presented evidence affirming David Sarnoff's significant involvement in the development of radio between 1911 and 1921; coordinated the planning for two lectures by RCA's Nobel laureate; and organized two public events commemorating the invention of electronic color television.

Basic Activities


In 2001, inquiries rose approximately thirty percent over the previous year, to 295, or over 24 a month. These included questions and photo requests from the New York Times, NBC, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Physics Today, the IEEE History Center, scholars, collectors, and the television show The Weakest Link.


In 2001, the director provided 173 tours of the David Sarnoff Library and Mr. Sarnoff's office suite-nearly triple the number given in 2000-to 1,170 visitors. Almost one third of attendees were unrelated to Sarnoff Corporation, including professional societies, students from elementary to university level, scholars, RCA retirees, and New Jersey educational administrators. Others were Corporation employees, corporate partners, prospective clients, and venture company investors. Increasing numbers of visitors of both categories inquire about school and other group visits.

Research Visits

The Library hosted sixteen researchers seeking primary sources on a variety of topics. These included two graduate students, an art historian from the University of Texas for a book on the effect of television displays on artists, Russian Television and Radio, and reporters from Norway's business newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv.

Works Produced based on Library use

Research from the Library's resources in 2001 contributed to three books released in May 2002:

Ross Knox Bassett, To The Digital Age: Research Labs, Start-up Companies, and the Rise of MOS Technology (Johns Hopkins University Press)
NBC, Brought to You in Living Color: 75 Years of Great Moments in Television and Radio from NBC (Wiley)
Evan Schwartz, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, & The Birth of Television (HarperCollins)

The Library also contributed to two documentaries on David Sarnoff, one of which finished second in the National History Day championships; articles on websites for the history of television and a comparison of the radio and internet booms; the IEEE History Museum and the CED Videodisc websites; and entries in the Encyclopedia of New Jersey, World Book Encyclopedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Strategic Planning

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Library and 60th of the Princeton laboratories. Taking the Library to the next level of outreach and funding requires further board development and strategic planning that balances the needs of the archives, the museum, the website, and the educational programs that draw on their resources. During the spring 2002, the executive director met with two nonprofit strategic-planning consultants as the next step for the Board's strategic-planning process.

Program and Special Initiatives

Initiatives have included building the Library's own website; overseeing completion of a state library preservation and cataloging grant; sponsoring an Eagle Scout project to digitize a handwritten photo catalog; giving papers on RCA and David Sarnoff at three professional conferences; arranging for a visit and lectures by RCA's first Nobel laureate; and organizing two public events marking the 50th anniversary of the invention of electronic color TV at the RCA Labs.

1. In November, the Library helped arrange two events commemorating the invention of electronic, monochrome-compatible color television between 1946 and 1953. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world's largest professional engineering organization, certified this globally significant accomplishment as a historic milestone.
The events, which attracted over 200 people each to the Corporation's auditorium and the Library, featured loaned working models of a 1947 RCA Victor monochrome TV and RCA's first color set from 1954, as well as new sets receiving high-definition programming from New Jersey Network. Dr. Magoun explained the events leading to the development of this technology with Powerpoint slide shows using unique materials from the Library, and for the first event arranged for live phone commentary from Colorado by the designer of the world's first color-TV cameras.
These events took place with the assistance of local branches of the IEEE, publicity from the Consumer Electronics Association, Thomson/RCA, and financial support from Sarnoff Corporation, as well as the NJ Historical Commission.

2. In October, Dr. Magoun arranged for RCA's Nobel laureate to present the Einstein Memorial public lecture at Princeton University. The Einstein lecture is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Princeton; its members commented on the attendance (approximately 200). Dr. Magoun helped promote the event by emailing the relevant departments at Princeton and Rutgers Universities.

3. The Library also hosted the New Jersey Antique Radio Club's annual holiday party in the Corporation auditorium. The NJARC and the Library anticipate a fruitful collaboration in antique restoration and the development of exhibits.

4. During the year the executive director participated in Sarnoff Corporation's plans for the renovation and expansion of its research facilities and development of the property. Part of these plans involves the demolition of the David Sarnoff Library and construction of a new exhibit area adjoining the new entrance to the Corporation. Dr. Magoun met with the architects, Corporation staff, and West Windsor residents and government officials. The approval process is ongoing.

5. Hired and trained with funds from a State Library grant, project archivist Richard Trotter weeded, re-housed, organized, and cataloged 76.5 linear feet of files and photos from RCA's Corporate Public Relations historical series, 1901-80. Mr. Trotter also donated forty hours of his time to finish the project.


The Library received, reviewed, and negotiated donations or loans of artifacts and files related to RCA's history. Those accepted included
a 1931 General Electric radio made by RCA Victor;
a 1948 RCA direct-view and 1949 projection televisions;
1954 and 1956 RCA color televisions;
the Grand Alliance HDTV prototype system;
a set of RCA's earliest transistors;
RCA's first home computing systems;
RCA's first cassette player;
RCA experimental videodiscs;
RCA Americom Public Affairs history files
James Carnes papers
James Tietjen papers

The 1931 radio and first three televisions were in working order or have been made so thanks to volunteer restorations in 2002. The HDTV system is being stored by Sarnoff Corporation for the Smithsonian Institution.

New Staff

Using the New Jersey Historic Commission's 2001 grant, the Executive Director hired two part-time staff. Jane Cairns is the office manager responsible for improving file organization and in-house accounting; she also handles correspondence and invoicing. Karen Siracusa, project archivist, is weeding, rehousing, sorting, organizing, and cataloging 50 linear feet of the David Sarnoff Research Center's Public Affairs Office historical files. Preserving and establishing control over these materials is essential to using them to making the histories of the many technologies developed at RCA available to the broader public.


A Sarnoff Corporation consultant offered to restore an RCA 830TS television donated in 2001 to working order. Scott Marshall donated his time and skill; the Library underwrote the cost of replacement parts, a DVD player, and a DVD of Milton Berle's 1951 Buick Hour variety show for demonstrations.

A member of the New Jersey Antique Radio Club has begun restoring an RCA 9PC41 donated in 2001. This set is one of the first projection television sets, pioneered by RCA after World War II. Joe Serafin is donating his time and the Library is donating parts and schematics.
An Eagle Scout project, including fifteen people who volunteered 139 hours, transcribed over 1400 entries from the 1940s RCA Labs photo index into a spreadsheet with columns appropriate to professional recommendations.

Another Eagle Scout candidate has begun digitizing the index for the David Sarnoff Research Center's photonegatives for the 1950s. A second group of 28 volunteers are weeding duplicate materials from David Sarnoff photo and public relations files and re-housing RCA Labs notebooks and reports in Sarnoff Corporation's basement.

The widow of the last director of RCA Laboratories in Tokyo has underwritten the cost of re-housing and organizing her husband's papers. She has also proposed initiating a Friends of the David Sarnoff Library to help generate support for the Library locally.

Finances Year 2001

Revenues: $170,207
Restricted (grants): $44,130
Unrestricted (in-kind and sales): $126,077

Expenses: $164,494
Program Services: $141,270
Management: $23,224

Cash and cash equivalents, 1/1/2001: $35,075
Cash and cash equivalents, 12/31/2001: $2,408

Net assets, 12/31/2002: $8,758, plus the value of the Collection itself, appraised at $234,860: $246,618

Complete Financial Report by Golomb, Wills & Company available on request.

Special Thanks to Those Who Have Made this Work Possible

New Jersey State Historical Commission/Office of Cultural Affairs/Department of State
New Jersey State Library
Greater Princeton Chamber of Commerce
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
Sarnoff Corporation
Thomson/RCA, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The Hamilton and Edison, New Jersey, Boy Scout Troops
And the many individual volunteers


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