"Lost" Programs

Whether it is Neil Armstrong’s voice crackling, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” or Ralph Kramden bellowing, “Bang, zoom, to the moon, Alice!,” television has filled our collective memories with unforgettable worlds both real and imagined. Unfortunately, a great many other television moments—particularly those that were transmitted live—are now thought to be lost forever.

But What About Videotape?

Although the concept of magnetic video recording dates from the late twenties, a viable system was not developed until 1956, when AMPEX unveiled its VTR, or videotape recorder.

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How Was Early Television Preserved?

Regular television service in the U.S. was officially inaugurated on April 20, 1939, when NBC telecast the opening ceremonies of New York World’s Fair.

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Missing Pieces of Media History

Despite the best efforts of the Paley Center, there are still a great many significant broadcasts for which no copies are known to exist.   

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We Need Your Help


Whether you are an independent collector looking to free up some shelf space, or simply have a question about a film canister, vintage videotape, or audio reel you’ve found in your attic, we encourage you to contact us.

Please try to be as specific as possible and include as much information as you can, including the title and airdate of the program in question, and its condition and format.