Nikon’s Video Remote Control System from 1962

In 1962 Nikon produced the Video Remote Control System that could capture images on film and record video signal. This was a combination of a still and video camera into one (similar to the modern DSLRs today). The system even had an early type of 'live view' system with 800-line high-resolution 2:1 interlaced closed-circuit television system:

Nikon Video Remote Control System 2

"The Nikon Video Remote Control System, a tracking and surveillance 35mm pulse camera with television monitoring, has been announced by Ehrenreich Photo-Optical Industries of California, Inc., Military and Special Products Div., 701 Welch Rd., Suite 303, Palo Alto, Calif. Components of the system include the Nikon F single lens reflex camera, with the Nikkor automatic 8Smm to 250mm zoom lens, 250-exposure, pulse motor-driven film magazine, General Precision Laboratories’ 800-line high-resolution 2:1 interlaced closed-circuit television system and remote Globe servo d-c motor operation of zoom, focus, lens diaphragm and shutter speeds from time/bulb to 1 /l000sec. Both the film camera and the television camera incorporate automatic light exposure control. A two-power magnification for the centre of the monitor image to extend the viewing power to an equivalent 500mm lens is an integral part of the system. Weight of the entire system, including camera assembly, pan and tilt, and television, is less than 100 Ib.

Nikon Video Remote Control System press release

Source: the November 1963 Journal of the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) Volume 72"

Nikon also makes a mention of the Video Remote Control System on their website:

"Afterwards in 1962, Nikon Video Remote Control (TV remote-controlled recording unit) was manufactured by combining the Nikon F, the 250-exposures motor drive, and Auto NIKKOR Telephoto-Zoom 8.5 - 25cm f/4 - 4.5 with the intent to simultaneously provide the supervisory and measurement by TV and the recording and photography by camera, which gave an impression of multifunction Nikon F system."

Block diagram of the system's layout:

Nikon Video Remote Control System block diagram
Thanks Ron Volmershausen!

Update: additional information can be found here.

This entry was posted in Other Nikon stuff and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Allan

    Peter, were you still a twinkle in your father’s eye in 1962? : )

  • guest201

    Back then when Nikon was still inovating.

    • Maji

      So you think the D800 is not an innovation?

      • Spy Black

        They didn’t make the sensor. Sony is the innovator.

        • Maji

          It is not only the sensor, but the whole product itself. The sensor is just one piece of the puzzle. Also, it was just an example. To say that Nikon has stopped innovating nowadays is not correct.

          • Spy Black

            So what would call an innovation? After all, here’s the standard definition of the word:
            “a new method, idea, product, etc.”

            So what has Nikon done that’s new and different from anyone else that you consider innovative?

            The closest I’ve seen of late that I would consider innovative is the Lytro camera. One may well criticize any shortcomings it may have, but it is undeniably innovative.

            I don’t see anything innovative coming out of Nikon, or Canon. I certainly know they have products I find attractive, like the D600/610, Df, and D7100, but they are hardly innovative.

            • Maji

              how about adding video to dSLR… D90 was the first one in that respect. Also, Nikon was the first one to introduce the VR concept. Those are good innovations in my book.

            • Spy Black

              That’s old hat now. Nothing new out there in Nikon world.

            • Maji

              My reply to the OP was that Nikon had been innovating and not stopped innovating few decades ago like OP implied in his post. I am not sure but what are people are expecting from cameras… perhaps it can compose by itself and make good photographs?

            • jack

              What if Sony stop to produce sensors for Nikon? Where is the Innovation of D800? The groundbraking feature of the D800 is the sensor and this made by sony. Otherwise if you remove this sensor the D800 then have no hope to compete the 5d3. Im a Nikon user but i used a 5d3 for a month and its a beast but loses in image quality by sony sensor otherwise focusing, build quality and general features the 5d3 is way better i think.

            • Maji

              Nikon doesn’t buy sensors only from Sony, so I that point is mute. It is Nikon who found a way to put that sensor inside a dSLR. Sony also makes competing cameras, but used the sensor after Nikon showed the way. It is like Columbus’ egg story. It is in front of you but not evident until someone show it, and that is innovation also.

      • guest201

        Bumping megapixels into a FF-sensor is called “innovation” nowadays.

  • Dibyendu Majumdar
    • RonVol

      Some of the information shown on that site is incorrect.
      For instance; the author claims that the lens used was one that was designed in the 1970s, an AF-NIKKOR 80mm f/4.5 (one of Nikon’s first attempts at an AF system).

      The lens that was used in the VRCS from the 1960s was in fact the Zoom-NIKKOR 8.5 – 25cm f/4 – 4.5, as can be seen in the info posted here.

      • AM I Am

        Well, this seemed to be a development by the military division of this company, so you really wouldn’t know when the lens was actually designed and available for military purposes.

        • RonVol

          It may be true that the system was designed for the military; but the fact is that that AF lens wasn’t available until the 1970s.
          Even Nikon’s website states that the lens used on the VRCS was the Zoom-NIKKOR 8.5 – 25cm f/4 – 4.5, not the AF-Nikkor.

          • AM I Am

            Available for commercial purposes in the 70’s. Surely it was available for military purposes way before.

            • RonVol

              If we’re talking about the AF-NIKKOR; then yes, it is possible.
              Nikon, on their website, make a reference to the time when development began on an AF system.
              The link below talks about the development of the F2 but it also mentions – “In 1965, the Laboratory launched the development of an automatic focusing (AF) system for single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras and succeeded in April 1971 to implement the automatic focusing lens AF Nikkor 80 mm f/4.5.”


  • umeshrw

    So the nikon style of being the first to innovate and then letting the advantage slide away due to negligence has been carried on since 1962 ?

    • Naval Gunfire

      No doubt the whinging types on here would still have found something to complain about back then.

  • jw

    Think I can get a rebate on my D300 for one of these?

  • Kyle Whitney

    Wow. Once upon a time, Nikon actually cared about video. Now they are the laughing stock.

  • Ernesto Quintero

    I can clearly see the where the GoPro Hero camera designers got their ideas from. Amazing how GoPro miniaturized a Vidicon tube into that little box. ; – )

  • Back to top