Zoom Lenses Come to TV

April 19, 1947

The first public demonstration of a prototype Zoomar lens is conducted inside Studio 3H at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York City. Invented by Dr. Frank G. Back, and promoted by investor film and television producer Jerry Fairbanks, the Zoomar lens would become the first commercially successful zoom lens. A version for film cameras would first be used by Paramount later that year to cover the 1947 World Series for newsreel production. The ability to use zoom lenses allowed for less expensive TV productions and also made television sports broadcasts more interesting and feasible. By the end of the decade, Zoomar lenses were in use in nearly one-third of television stations in the United States at the time. As new TV stations were popping up quickly during this era, the fact that by 1957 more than half of the TV stations then in operation owned Zoomar lenses was even more impressive.