Chalk Hill Media's Virtual Museum

The RCA TCR-100 Saga

One day a friend called and asked if I'd rescue a an RCA-TCR-100.  For those who aren't familiar with this device, It is a 2" video tape cartridge recorder and player.  Actually it contains two complete 2" tape transports inside with a conveyor belt type delivery system that places the desired tape cartridge where it can be accessed by the tape player.  The device is controlled by a primitive computer which . in turn, is controlled by setting a sequence of numbers n some numeric thumb wheel switches.

Anyone who has worked in TV as a video tape operator back in the days of Ampex or RCA 2" reel to reel machines will appreciate what this brought to the table.  It gave you an easy and quick to cue up multiple spots for a station break.  The machine could automatically load one while another is playing.  This was a tremendous idea, but it came at a cost.  The machines had a personality of their own and generally required an engineer with the proper "touch" to keep them operating properly.  They were finicky. Did I mention that they are huge?  This one is over six feet high, about eight feet wide.  Including the monitor rack shown on the right, it weighs in at over 2600 pounds. 

It was with a great deal of difficulty that this machine made the trip from Tuscaloosa Alabama to our shop in Chalk Hill  (near Longview), Texas.  Now, what to do with it.?

Inside the front cover.  The programming thumb switches are on the lower left.

The "computer" that controls the sequencing.  Each one of those is a separate plug in card.  I'm not sure how much "memory" it had, but I'd be surprised if it was much more than 16K.

The transport shown minus the tape cartridges.

Just a few of the accessories that came with it. The red devices are the tape carts.

So now that we have it, what do you do with it?

The logical answer would be to connect it up to see if it works.  That is not as easy as it sounds.  This machine requires three 30 Ampere 120 volt circuits to operate.  It also requires a constant source of dry compressed air.  I was gathering all the necessary bits and pieces to fire it up, when I received an email from the Museum of Broadcast Technology in New England.  They found out I had this very clean example and were interested in putting it in their museum.  I quickly agreed to make it available to them , so the odyssey continued.   It wasn't too long before a truck appeared and the TCR was on its way to Rhode Island.

It took a "man size" fork lift truck to get the beast into a truck.

Can you say "top heavy?"

We all breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally in the truck.  Securing it properly turned out to be quite an adventure, but it made the journey to Woonsocket without incident.