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Celebrating 100 Years At RCA: Interview With Claire Villeneuve

Claire Villeneuve

Claire Villeneuve

TV Technology's sister publication TWICE recently sat down with the Head of Trademark Licensing at Technicolor, Claire Villeneuve, to talk about the historic RCA electronics company, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2019.

Here is the full Q&A.

TWICE:Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about RCA, its history and future. What an accomplishment to be around after 100 years! What are some of the biggest highlights in RCA’s history?

Claire Villeneuve: To start off, David Sarnoff, founder of Radio Corporation of America in 1919, pioneer of radio and TV in the USA, introduced radio communications connecting people, cities, towns, states and countries. RCA created the first nationwide American radio network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and pioneered the black & white TV in 1929 and later color TVs in 1954.

Other major highlights for RCA include:

  • RCA introduced the 7-inch 45-rpm “single” record in 1949, bringing music quickly to the younger generations;
  • RCA opened a state-of-the-art recording studio in Nashville in 1957 to record famous artists such as Elvis Presley;
  • RCA launched its first communications satellite in 1958, following the first satellite launch, Sputnik, in 1957 by the Soviet Union;
  • RCA’s revolutionary technology, the “slow-scan television cameras (SSTV),” was used to capture Neil Armstrong landing on the moon during the Apollo mission’s live TV broadcast in 1969;
  • In 1998, RCA and DirecTV demonstrated the first satellite transmission of High-Definition Television (HDTV) programs at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas;
  • RCA now has electronic products such as SmartTVs, tablets, headsets, mobile phones, home appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and more!

TWICE:What is the global reach of RCA products today?

CV: Today, RCA products are sold primarily in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Latin America and South America. Our products are rolling out in Europe and Asia now.

TWICE:What is one of the highlights of the RCA centennial year celebration?

CV: RCA has partnered with Pentatonix, the U.S. iconic a-cappella band and part of RCA Records label, to celebrate our 100 years of innovation.

An anniversary song to a super fan has been performed during the 2019/2020 concert tour and more magic moments to come.

TWICE:Owen D. Young was recently inducted into the Consumer Technology Association’s Hall of Fame. Are there other notable RCA alumni and their contributions you’d like to remind us about?

CV: Great question!

The Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame was founded by the Consumer Electronics Association (today called CTA) in 2000 and honors leaders whose creativity, persistence, determination and significant contributions helped shape the industry and made the consumer electronics marketplace what it is today. The first class of 50 inductees was in 2000, and David Sarnoff was one of the first 50 inductees!

Each year another group of inventors, engineers, business leaders, retailers and journalists are inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and in 2019 Owen D. Young (1874-1962) joined David Sarnoff as significant technology leader of the century.

TWICE:What are RCA’s highest priorities in consumer electronics right now?

CV: Costs and services are big driving factors today. RCA prides itself on offering consumer electronics with enhanced features, such as Android or Roku, at affordable prices. RCA is also proud to bring families and friends together and help loved ones stay in touch.

TWICE:What Was David Sarnoff’s greatest contribution to the consumer electronic industry?

CV: David Sarnoff’s goal was to bring people together. David grew up in a time where news was no closer than a ride on a horse to another town or by post that could take weeks. Today, we can’t imagine a world without access to people, places and information.

Because of business leaders like David Sarnoff, whose creativity and persistence were relentless, we are connected to the world in the palm of our hands today.

TWICE:What is a fact about RCA that would surprise people?

CV: That RCA was one of the top suppliers of tablets in North America in 2018.

TWICE:Are there any new industries we can expect to see RCA expand into in the near future? (i.e. health and wellness, wearables)

CV: At RCA, we are striving to enter new businesses all the time. Consumer Electronics is a tough and competitive business on every level.

We are evaluating our opportunities and investing in new territories or products regularly. Consumer lighting, smart phones, home automation, automotive and electric mobility are hot categories today.

TWICE:What do the next 100 years look like for RCA?

CV: RCA will continue to bring families together and celebrate life’s magic moments!