Engineer Behind the Teleprompter Dead at 91

Apr 26, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Hubert J. "Hub" Schlafly Jr., a television engineer who helped invent the teleprompter, has died at 91, reports The Washington Post.

The idea for the teleprompter came in the 1940s when a Broadway actor, Fred Barton, came up with the idea of a device to help him with his lines, the story says. The actor told his idea to Irving Kahn, the vice president of radio and TV at 20th Century Fox, who in turn asked Schlafly, the director of TV research at Fox, to help develop it, the article notes.

Schlafly took half a suitcase and inside installed a motorized scroll of paper with actors’ lines printed in half-inch letters. The speed of the paper’s scrolling was controlled by a stagehand.

Barton, Kahn and Schlafly then quit their jobs to start TelePrompTer Corp., which introduced the device in 1950 on the CBS soap opera "The First Hundred Years." It later became a standard in live TV.

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  1. Obama sends condolences

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