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Thursday, March 10, 2016

RCA Was Apple Before Apple

RCA Microphone imageRecently I read a great post on the Daily Beast about how the old RCA company was actually Apple way before Apple came into existence. Of course, that means that there were numerous similarities between the company that were pretty impressive. For instance:
  • RCA founder David Sarnoff was the original Steve Jobs. He willed his company to be the most innovative and technology driven company of its time. When Sarnoff retired in 1970, the company lost its way and diversified into food and real estate, eventually being acquired by GE. There's no sign of that happening with Apple, but you can't deny that Jobs influence definitely made a difference in its products.
  • Similar to iTunes, for a time RCA was the worlds largest seller of music with the acquisition of the Victor Talking Machines company in 1929. The RCA record label had the biggest stars of the day with Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Enrico Caruso, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Arturo Toscanini, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Elvis, and many others. 
  • It was also the first to commercialize the turntable, so everyone could listen to their favorite artist via vinyl record when they wanted to at home.
  • And speaking of the vinyl record, RCA was the first to come up with the 45 RPM vinyl single, as well as the first to commercialize the stereo vinyl record.
  • And the company was a technology pioneer, being the first to produce a ribbon microphone (still coveted today) as well as the first commercial tube amplifiers.
  • RCA was the first to get into "wireless technology," especially televisions. In fact, the company was the first with a full production commercial television, then the first to commercialize the color television.
  • To go along with the television set it was selling, the company also provided content in the form of one of the three major television networks, and one we still watch today - NBC.
  • The company was also a leader in motion pictures with its sound on film technology and Technicolor process.
  • And like Apple, it had its technological misses, with the 8 track cassette and Quad sound.
The point is, Apple may be the perfect tech company for the beginning of the 21st century, but RCA might have been its equal in many ways in the 20th.

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