Wednesday, January 21, 2015

He Invented Instant Replay, The TV Trick We Now Take For Granted

NPR's short piece on Tony Verna:

Tony Verna's most important achievement lasted just a few seconds. During the 1963 Army vs. Navy football game in Philadelphia, Verna, then 29, tried something that had never been done before in a live TV broadcast. "Here I am, a young director, and I can really be committing professional suicide if I mess up ... by attempting to showcase a new device," Verna told NPR's Day to Day in 2003.

That new device, instant replay, involved tape decks the size of refrigerators, housed in a giant truck. Verna was so unsure this would work that he didn't tell anybody else about it until just before game time.

"He said he waited until they were driving over to say, 'Hey guys, we have something we might be utilizing here. We're gonna have to see what happens,' " says Jack Ford, a correspondent for CBS News who produced a documentary about that game.

Verna's moment came when fans saw Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh punch in a one-yard touchdown run. Then, a few seconds later, they saw Stichweh's run again. It was the first instant replay.

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