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Brief History of the TelePrompTer

The death earlier this month of 91-year old Hubert J. Schlafly, Jr. has occasioned the New York Times to publish an obituary that reads like a brief but fascinating history of the TelePrompTer.

According to the Times, the "first teleprompter was designed by Mr. Schlafly, an electrical engineer; Irving Berlin Kahn, a nephew of the composer Irving Berlin; and Fred Barton Jr., an actor who first proposed the idea."

Soap opera actors were among the first to use the earliest versions device, which scrolled large text on rolls of paper. The Times says the breakthrough came at the 1952 Republican national convention, when former President (and former commerce secretary during commercial radio's chaotic birth in the 1920s) Herbert Hoover used a TelePrompTer and called attention to it during his remarks.

(Posted by Feliks Banel)



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Western States Museum of Broadcasting 2021