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."

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

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his music training; on how the Depression impacted his family
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

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
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

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
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

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
On the technical aspects of putting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; on bloopers on live television he witnessed

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
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

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
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 

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
On the legacy of Philo T. Farnsworth; on career highlights and regrets; on working with various people though his career
On B-roll pictures from his career- with Philo T. Farnsworth and his team; working an early television camera circa 1947

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
Shows

Chevrolet Tele-Theater aka Chevrolet on Broadway

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Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway

Lights Out

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

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

Perry Como Show, The

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Don Pike on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Don Pike on working as a technical director in live television and working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 
Don Pike on the technical aspects of putting on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

Super Bowl

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

Your Hit Parade

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

Anthology Drama

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Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway

Bloopers

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Don Pike on bloopers on live television he witnessed

Comedy-Variety

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

Historic Events and Social Change

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Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II

Richard M. Nixon

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Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit

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

View Topic
Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway

Technological Innovation

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

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
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit

War

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Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II

World War II

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Don Pike on engineering cameras for bombs during World War II
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Don Pike on acting as technical director for Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
Don Pike on being technical director for Chevrolet on Broadway

Game Shows

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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

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Don Pike on being technical director for Lights Out  and Your Hit Parade 
Don Pike on acting as color coordinator for The Perry Como Show

Reality TV

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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

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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

Sports

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Don Pike on acting as technical director for various Super Bowl telecasts 
People

Fred Coe

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

Perry Como

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

Philo T. Farnsworth

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

Robert F. Kennedy

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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

Delbert Mann

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Don Pike on working on Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe 

Edward R. Murrow

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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

Richard M. Nixon

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Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit
Don Pike on going to China to act as technical director for NBC News' coverage of President Richard Nixon's historic visit

David Sarnoff

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Don Pike on David Sarnoff's involvement in the development of color television

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