Ghosts of brands long gone

The list is long and time is short as our intrepid technology manager challenges the elements in his quest to get the best products he can afford from a vast array of providers
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The engineer leans into the biting Las Vegas wind and presses toward his goal. Off in the distance, he sees his target: the Las Vegas Convention Center. His mission: Acquire new technology for his station. The list is long and time is short as our intrepid technology manager challenges the elements in his quest to get the best products he can afford from a vast array of providers.

He examines his shopping list: editing system, automation, cameras, production switcher, graphics platform and servers. It's a long list because his station hesitated to buy new technology after it purchased a DTV transmitter two years ago. Now it's time to completely renovate the facility and bring it into HDTV.

Unfortunately, our engineer isn't looking ahead; he walks smack into a light pole and falls unconscious.

He dreams … The convention hall is just ahead. It has three exhibit areas: the North, South and East halls.

“My first stop will be to see the new Ampex DCT VTRs. Then it's cameras,” he thinks. His list includes several players: Ampex, RCA, Philips, BTS, and Bosch. “Certainly the Philips LDK-54 video recording camera will be a hot item,” he says to himself.

Also on his must-see list: the Dubner CBG-2 and Abekas A51 graphics and effects systems. For production switchers, it's the Grass Valley 3000 or Abekas 6000.

Server options include an AirSPACE from Pluto or a ColorGraphics DP4:2:2. Then there's the new company Pinnacle and their MediaStream. “Didn't that used to be a Hewlett-Packard MediaStream?” he wonders.

Perhaps he'll buy a new Dynair Dyna Mite analog router. Oh, don't forget automation systems. There's Vital, Louth, Lake Systems, Columbine, Encoda — and consider Jefferson-Pilot for traffic. Lots to choose from.

Our engineer reaches the convention center and enters the main hall. That's funny; there are only two halls, a radio hall and a TV hall. He rubs his head and enters the TV hall. His eyesight fuzzy, the hall appears more like a ghost town, with only a few people on the exhibition floor. Company banners float in space: RCA, Ampex, Dynatech, Editing Machines …

He needs a landmark, so he decides to look for Ampex, where he's sure he'll be able to get his bearings and see the DCT VTRs. But where's Ampex? He sees Abekas, but no, that banner morphs into Accom. A nearby Discreet banner transforms into AutoDesk.

“Who the heck is AutoDesk?” he asks himself.

To his right, Pinnacle fades into Avid. Is this a dream? Have companies changed names? No, that can't be. Where are the good ol' American broadcast brands like RCA, General Electric, Ampex and Pacific Recorders? They are gone and have been replaced by newcomers like Sony, Panasonic, Thomson, JVC and Avid. Fortunately, Grass Valley seems to have returned from the dead, he notices.

The convention booths slowly slip away as our engineer begins to wake from his bumped head.

“What happened?” he asks Susan, his station manager, who's standing next to him.

“You bumped into that pole and went out like a light. You were calling out names I've never heard of — RCA, Ampex, Dynatech, Dubner — who are they?” she asks.

“Ghosts I think,” the engineer replies. “Ghosts of brands long gone.”

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