Don Pike

Technical Director / Color Television Engineer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Don Pike (1914-2002) talks about working in Philo T. Farnsworth's laboratory and the early engineering developments of television. He recalls working as a technical director for several NBC shows, including Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Your Hit Parade. He details working closely on the development of color television at RCA Laboratories, and becoming a network color supervisor as color was introduced to the world on shows including The Perry Como Show, The Steve Allen Show and the Miss America Pageant. Pike discusses late-career activities including working with NASA on the cameras to cover the space program, becoming involved with the United States Information Agency under Edward R. Murrow, and accompanying NBC News to China to cover the historic visit of President Richard M. Nixon. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on April 29, 1998 in Chapel Hill, NC.

"In the earliest days of television we only did one show a week. A Sunday night drama. The rest of the time we were either rehearsing that drama in the studio, or had the cameras at Madison Square Garden showing a basketball or ice hockey game. Not much was going on."

Highlights
Don Pike on Farnsworth Television's facilities and its goals
03:27
Don Pike on bloopers on live television he witnessed
03:45
Don Pike on testing color television and the race to bring it to the public
03:55
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
01:27
Don Pike on career highlights and regrets
02:02
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his music training; on how the Depression impacted his family
12:07
On his earliest days in television and early equipment and sets; on meeting Philo T. Farnsworth and going to work for him; on the shop where he worked with Philo T. Farnsworth and the equipment to build cameras and televisions
16:21

Chapter 2

On building early televisions for Philo T. Farnsworth; on how early television signals worked; on being involved in Philo T. Farnsworth's company Farnsworth Television and Radio
16:33
On Farnsworth Television's facilities and its goals; on Philo T. Farnsworth becoming ill and leaving his company, and other inventions that Farnsworth was working on; on the patent battle between Farnsworth's company and RCA
12:25

Chapter 3

On the impact of Philo T. Farnsworth's declining health on his research, and RCA's iconoscope tube; on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
14:29
On leaving Farnsworth for NBC/RCA; on his responsibilities at NBC/RCA; on perfecting the television picture and the responsibilities of a technical director; on his training program to become a technical director
14:06

Chapter 4

On working as a technical director in live television and working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse;  on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe
16:14
On the technical aspects of putting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; on bloopers on live television he witnessed
08:57

Chapter 5

On being technical director for Lights Out and Your Hit Parade; on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway;  on creating early color cameras
15:30
On experimenting with different color television systems; on David Sarnoff's involvement in the development of color television; on becoming a color coordinator for NBC
13:30

Chapter 6

On how the advent of color affected television production; on the challenges of getting early television colors correct; on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show
13:47
On going to work for the United States Information Agency at the behest of Robert Kennedy under agency director Edward R. Murrow; on returning to NBC in 1967 as a technical director and acting as technical director on the Miss America Pageant and Super Bowl telecasts;  on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit 
16:18

Chapter 7

On going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit; on going to work covering NASA for NBC
14:11
On the legacy of Philo T. Farnsworth; on career highlights and regrets; on working with various people though his career
14:58
On B-roll pictures from his career- with Philo T. Farnsworth and his team; working an early television camera circa 1947
02:56

Chapter 8

On B-roll pictures from his career- studio 3H at 30 Rock circa 1947; bomb with camera mounted on it circa 1942; rear part of bomb with camera mounted on it circa 1947; in Atlantic City working on the Miss America Pageant  circa 1969
02:36
Shows

Chevrolet Tele-Theater aka Chevrolet on Broadway

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Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway
02:16

Lights Out

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Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out and Your Hit Parade 
04:31

Miss America Pageant

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Don Pike on returning to NBC in 1967 as a technical director and acting as technical director on the Miss America Pageant
06:42

Perry Como Show, The

View Show Page
Don Pike on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show
06:53

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

View Show Page
Don Pike on working as a technical director in live television and working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
08:57
Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 
05:54
Don Pike on the technical aspects of putting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
08:57

Super Bowl

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Don Pike on acting as technical director for various Super Bowl telecasts 
01:50

Your Hit Parade

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Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out and Your Hit Parade 
04:31
Topics

Anthology Drama

View Topic
Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
25:11
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway
02:16

Bloopers

View Topic
Don Pike on bloopers on live television he witnessed
03:45

Comedy-Variety

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Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
04:31

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
06:45

Richard M. Nixon

View Topic
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
01:27
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
07:08

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
25:11
Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
04:31
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway
02:16

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Don Pike on his earliest days in television with Philo T. Farnsworth and the early equipment and sets
11:21
Don Pike on the shop where he worked with Philo T. Farnsworth and the equipment they used to build cameras and televisions
02:02
Don Pike on building early televisions for Philo T. Farnsworth 
03:11
Don Pike on manufacturing the tubes for Philo T. Farnsworth's televisions and how they worked
04:15
Don Pike on being involved in Philo T. Farnsworth's company Farnsworth Television and Radio
05:22
Don Pike on Farnsworth Television's facilities and its goals
03:27
Don Pike on Philo T. Farnsworth becoming ill and leaving his company, and other inventions that Farnsworth was working on
07:10
Don Pike on how early television signals worked
03:45
Don Pike on the impact of Philo T. Farnsworth's declining health on his research, and RCA's iconoscope tube
07:45
Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
06:45
Don Pike on perfecting the television picture and the responsibilities of a technical director
03:21
Don Pike on his training program to become a technical director
01:40
Don Pike on transferring to RCA's color lab in 1949
03:57
Don Pike on creating early color cameras
04:44
Don Pike on experimenting with different color television systems
04:54
Don Pike on testing color television and the race to bring it to the public
03:55
Don Pike on becoming a color coordinator for NBC
02:47
Don Pike on how the advent of color affected television production
04:46
Don Pike on the challenges of getting early television colors correct
02:02
Don Pike on going to work covering NASA for NBC
06:59
Don Pike on the legacy of Philo T. Farnsworth
02:41

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
01:27
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
07:08

War

View Topic
Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
06:45

World War II

View Topic
Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
06:45
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
25:11
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway
02:16

Game Shows

View Genre
Don Pike on returning to NBC in 1967 as a technical director and acting as technical director on the Miss America Pageant
06:42

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
04:31
Don Pike on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show
06:53

Reality TV

View Genre
Don Pike on returning to NBC in 1967 as a technical director and acting as technical director on the Miss America Pageant
06:42

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
04:31

Sports

View Genre
Don Pike on acting as technical director for various Super Bowl telecasts 
01:50
People

Fred Coe

View Person Page
Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 
05:54

Perry Como

View Person Page
Don Pike on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show
06:53

Philo T. Farnsworth

View Person Page
Don Pike on his earliest days in television with Philo T. Farnsworth and the early equipment and sets
11:21
Don Pike on meeting Philo T. Farnsworth and going to work for him
02:58
Don Pike on the shop where he worked with Philo T. Farnsworth and the equipment they used to build cameras and televisions
02:02
Don Pike on building early televisions for Philo T. Farnsworth 
03:11
Don Pike on manufacturing the tubes for Philo T. Farnsworth's televisions and how they worked
04:15
Don Pike on being involved in Philo T. Farnsworth's company Farnsworth Television and Radio
05:23
Don Pike on Farnsworth Television's facilities and its goals
03:27
Don Pike on Philo T. Farnsworth becoming ill and leaving his company, and other inventions that Farnsworth was working on
07:10
Don Pike on the patent battle between Farnsworth's company and RCA
01:48
Don Pike on the impact of Philo T. Farnsworth's declining health on his research, and RCA's iconoscope tube
07:45
Don Pike on the legacy of Philo T. Farnsworth
02:41

Robert F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Don Pike on going to work for the United States Information Agency at the behest of Robert F. Kennedy under agency director Edward R. Murrow
05:20

Delbert Mann

View Interview Page
Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 
05:54

Edward R. Murrow

View Person Page
Don Pike on going to work for the United States Information Agency at the behest of Robert F. Kennedy under agency director Edward R. Murrow
05:20

Richard M. Nixon

View Person Page
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
01:27
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
07:08

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
Don Pike on David Sarnoff's involvement in the development of color television
01:54

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