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Du Mont Broadcasting Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

Du Mont Broadcasting Corporation

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The Du Mont Broadcasting Corporation was incorporated in 1955 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Allen B. Du Mont Laboratories, Inc., whose principal business office was located in Clifton, New Jersey. In September 1955 the laboratories transferred to the company its local television broadcasting business, including two television broadcasting stations (WABD, New York, New York, and WTTG, Washington, D.C.), their broadcasting licenses, and related properties in exchange for 944,436 shares of the company's capital stock. Stations WABD and WTTG operated as independent television broadcasting stations, without network affiliations.

Dr. Allen B. Du Mont, born in Brooklyn, New York, was the director of the company and chairman of its board from its organization. Du Mont graduated from Montclair (New Jersey) High School in 1919 and went to RPI, in Troy, New York. After graduating from RPI in 1924, he obtained a job at the Westinghouse Lamp Company in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and was put in charge of radio tube production. Dr. Du Mont, one of the greatest inventors of the twentieth century, perfected the cathode ray tube in 1931 for use in television receivers.

In 1931 Du Mont founded Allen B. Du Mont Laboratories, Inc., in the garage of his Cedar Grove, New Jersey, home with $1000, half of which he had borrowed. The company, incorporated as Du Mont Labs in 1935, received its initial success as the primary U. S. manufacturer of cathode ray tubes, which had become critical to the electronics industry. It took him another seven years before he manufactured and sold the first commercially practical television set to the public. His all-electronic Model 180 television receiver was first sold in 1938, a few months prior to RCA's first set. In 1938 Du Mont sold a half-interest to Paramount Pictures Corporation to raise capital for broadcasting stations. Du Mont Labs was the first company to market the home television receiver in 1939.

Du Mont was second to enter the network TV business, establishing a link between its New York and Washington, D.C. stations in 1945, ahead of both CBS and ABC.

Du Mont founded the first licensed television network in 1946, linking WABD (Allen Balcom Du Mont) in New York to WTTG (Thomas Tolliver Goldsmith) in Washington, DC. .

Du Mont produced the finest longest-lasting black and white televisions available in the 1940s and 1950s. During that period, Du Mont was America's fourth television network.

One important factor contributing to the demise of the Du Mont Network was Allen B. Du Mont himself. Many thought he had little business sense. Major stockholders began to publicly question the soundness of his decisions, especially his desire to keep the TV network afloat despite major losses. In 1955 concerned holders of large blocks of stock began to wrest control of the company from the founder. One reason Du Mont television sales lagged behind other manufactures was that his sets were of higher quality and consequently were much more expensive.

Du Mont's company pioneered many important elements necessary to the growth and evolution of the industry. Perfecting the use of the cathode ray tube as TV screens, developing the kinescope process as well as the "magic eye" cathode ray tuning indicator, and developing the first electronic viewfinder were chief accomplishments. Du Mont was history's first television millionaire, but when the big radio networks entered the field of television, Du Mont was unable to compete with the financially powerful and considerably more experienced broadcasters.

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