Harris TC-85 camera

Harris TC-85 camera

Email received 26 March 2009

Years ago, Harris used to make TV cameras. They purchased the TV camera division from GE. I imagine some of their early ones were just rebadged GE cameras, but they did eventually come up with their own design. Harris stopped making cameras in the early 1980's about the time that all the manufacturers were switching from tube based to solid state imaging devices. I have in my collection a Harris TC-85 studio box camera that was one of the last models they produced. (Mine was used as a test jig at the factory, it never saw any use in an actual studio.) How do I know that? Well about 10 years ago I worked at Harris's Quincy, IL location and bought the camera at an employee sale. One of the interesting things about the TC-85 was that it utilized a microprocessor driven CCU that featured automatic setup and registration by the touch of a button. Even though it had that option, many engineers preferred not to use it and would set up and paint the cameras manually, because the automatic method was hard on the tubes.

Also, I don't remember all the exact details of this, but one of the reasons they abandoned making cameras was that they filed a lawsuit against their imaging tube vendor (Amperex I believe,) stating that the quality of the tubes was below par and not up to the standards to compete with the brand new solid state CCD cameras of the day. The lawsuit primarily focused on the Harris TC-90 cameras, which were a shoulder mount EFP camera. Harris ultimately lost the lawsuit and was forced to recall and destroy all the TC-90's

I will try to post some pictures later of some of the different Harris cameras, as I have some old 35MM slides from the '70's sitting around somewhere. Also, some of they guys who worked in the camera division at Harris back in the day are still there, working in TV transmitter field service, in the repair department, and in various management positions.

Posted by: matt_s78m

Email received 15 January 2012

My first job was at the Harris TV Camera Demo Facility in Quincy Illinois. I grew up in Quincy and started working at Harris two weeks after I turned 16 years old in 1977. I had the job lined up before turning 16, but they could not hire me due to child labor laws. I started out my first day sweeping the floor and sorting parts in the lab working under my manager Jim Brown. By the end of the summer I was setting up TC-50 and TC-80's and repairing those cameras. The demo facility was in a relatively small building that had the Harris facility in one side and the Illinois department of motor vehicles in the other. We had many confused visitors looking to renew their drivers licenses come in the wrong side of the building. As a matter of fact, I actually took my driving test during my lunch break in my managers new Chrysler because my car would not pass inspection.

I also did some of the software design in the TC-85 Auto Setup Unit one summer as well, although most of the code was written by Gary Sanderson http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gary-sanderson/9/8a6/109 and Brian Johnson. Most of the software was written in the language FORTH. The CPU used was an Intel 8085A

I left Harris in 1985 and overlapped the development of the TC-90. I was not really involved in the development of the TC-90, but it was 50 feet away in the lab and I had of course worked with Gary and Brian in the past so I was always wondering in to see what was going on. The controls and setup of the TC-90 were based on a National Semiconductor NCS-800 processor. It was a Z80 knock off. The code in Forth again. I did not know that they abandoned the TC-90, but I can tell you for certain that not all were destroyed. I have a complete TC-90 sitting here next to me. The power supply mostly works, but as a high pitch squeal to it. Most likely a 30 year old tantalum cap failed. I am attempting to repair it back to working order. By the way, the TC-90 was released in both Plumbicon and Vidicon versions. Mine uses Plumbs. The power supplies were different in the two versions to adjust for a voltage requirement that was different between the two.

I picked it up recently and the manual that came with it had several photocopied pages of Gary Sandersons original hand drawn schematics, modifications, and notes. I have scanned these and sent them to Gary this past year (2011) and would gladly send them to you if you wish.

To the best of my knowledge, all of the PE and TE series were all rebaged GE and the TC series were original Harris, although design by some of the original GE engineers. Art Wymer was one of them that I worked with. Art came in from GE in New York as did a few others. Sorry, but I cannot remember any of the other names off the top of my head.

I am a HAM also (AD7OI) and an ATVer. I belong to the BATC and stream most Wednesday and Sunday evenings at 18:30 and again at 19:30 GMT-7 both as AD7OI member streams and on W7ATV repeater feed when it's my turn.

Posted by Kevin AD7OI

See also e-mail on TC-90 pages.



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