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Ulises Armand Sanabria
Television Experimenters.com
Ulises Armand Sanabria
Ulises Sanabria was born in southern Chicago on September 5, 1906. His parents were American and his that
it was so extremely mixed that he could best be described as "typically American". He was educated in the
local Chicago schools and his "heroes" were Ericsson, Eli Whitney, Robert Fulton, Alexander Bell, Samuel
Morse and most of all, Thomas Edison. He looked on Lee deForest as his contemporary, who was a
generation ahead. Most of all, he wanted to be an inventor and do something big and important.

He selected television, without the slightest idea of how he was going to go about it. When he was 15 years
old, he told his one and only girl friend of high school days, that he was going to invent television. Two years
later, he figured out how to do it. Two more years later, at the age of 19, he demonstrated the first television
in Chicago. This was only four months after the first demonstration in history by C. F. Jenkins. (Note, Mr.
Sanabria's work was independent of C. F. Jenkins). Mr. Sanabria was always very proud of the fact that he
was one of the first three to "invent" television. (The other was John Logie Baird).

During his last six months in high school, his main benefactor was W. R. Hearst, of newspaper fame. It seems
that this was because television inventions had a special appeal to the publishers technical advisers. In 1926
through 1936, Ulises Sanabria with a budget of approximately $1,000,000, set up a laboratory in the Hearst
building in downtown Chicago and there he supervised developmental research projects in television. He
always felt that television could be a strong supplement to movies in theaters. Much of the research activity
was therefore related to large screen television.

Mr. Sanabria was self educated in the field of television, radio and electronics. During the course of the
development work, he acquired a working knowledge of the tools for glass working, lens grinding, accurate
machine work, electric generators, automatic machinery for glass working and became an expert trouble
shooter in all types of electronic equipment.

He was the first to produce television using interlaced scanning in January, 1926. He used a unique triple
interlace method that was especially effective in reducing flicker in the picture. Later in that year, the Illinois
Publishing & Printing Company supported him in successfully demonstrating television to 200,000 people
attending the Chicago Radio Show from October 10th though 17th in the Chicago Coliseum.

Some of the items developed early in the research work were, accurate mechanical scanning systems, large
size potassium hydride photo cells, Long column neon light valves, wide range DC amplifiers, filtered arc light
for elimination of commutator ripple in pictures, series modulation of transmitting oscillators. In later years, Mr.
Sanabria gave consideration to increasing the number of lines to 48 and interlace 6 fields of 8 lines each.
However, this idea never went past the "thought" stage because of other important improvements and
advancements that would overshadow it.

Mr. Sanabria was the builder and engineer of WCFL, the first television station in Chicago on June 12, 1928.
By sending the sound signal to station WIBO and the picture on WCFL, he was the first to transmit sound and
picture simultaneously on the same wave band. In May 19, 1929, he began building the television transmitter
for W9XAO located at 6312 Broadway, built near the main WIBO studio on the second floor. A bank of
forty-eight six inch diameter photo-electric cells were mounted in one wall of the studio, with a square hole in
the center to pass the flying spot scanning beam.
Station W9XAO was in operation in the summer of 1929 and by this time, Sanabria and his people were
operating as the "Western Television Corp." with Clem F. Wade as president and Martin J. Wade as secretary.
The Western Television Corp. was prepared to build commercial television transmitters using their unique
interlaced scanning feature. Sanabria went on to supervise the construction of 24 television stations using his
system of scanning.
Western Television Studios, Chicago Illinois
produce and market a commercial television
receiver (The Visionette) in 1929 with a 17 inch
scanning disk. It was available as kit for $88.25
minus the Kinolamp and cabinet. The cabinet was
an extra $20.00. The Visionette cabinet contained
only the scanning disk assembly. Separate
receivers for sight and sound were necessary to
make up a complete television receiver. A
companion receiver and consolette table were
available from Western Television for an additional
$85.00 and $20.00
The scanning disk assembly of the kit, slightly
reconfigured and with two 6 inch photocells and a
light source, was also sold as a camera.

In 1932, Western Television placed on the market
their new table model 41 receiver under the
Echophone brand name. Although there was no
receiver for sound, it did include an eight tube
superheterodyne receiver for the picture. The
tuning range was from 1400 to 2850 kilocycles. For
the sound, the Echophone model 14 or model 16
receivers were recommended. The television hole
lens disk and a new type of hot cathode crater
lamp developed by Lloyd P. Garner. When this
receiver was available, there were 22 stations
broadcasting the 45 line interlaced Sanabria
signals. The model 41 sold for $85.00, complete
with tubes.
Western Television, Model 41
Western Television, Visionette
Mr. Sanabria was also creating interest in television amongst the public, by providing demonstrations of large
screen television in auditoriums and theaters throughout the United States and Canada. Some of the places
where these took place include:
Macy's, New York,,, Abraham & Strauss, Brooklyn,,, Bamberger's Newark, New Jersey,,,
Sears Roebuck, Rochester,,, Pizitz, Burmingham, Alabama,,, May Company, Cleveland,,, O'Neil & Co., Akron, Ohio,,, R. H.
Block, Indianapolis,,, Sears Roebuck, Chicago,,, Marshall Field Co., Chicago,,,Boston Store, Milwaukee,,, Golden Rule,
St.Paul,,, Stix, Baer & Fuller, St. Louis,,, Crowley-Milner, Detroit,,, Poeple's Outfitting Co., Detroit,,, May Company, Los
Angeles,,, Eporium, San Francisco,,, Meyer &Frank, Portland, Oregon,,, Brandels & Co., Omaha,,, Gimbles, Miwaukee, Easton's
Stores, Canada,,, Garrick Theater, Chicago,,, The Century of Progress Exposition...
Other cities where demonstrations were given include:
Midland and Hamilton, Ontario,,, Medicine Hat, Alberta and Vancouver,British Columbia,,, Seattle, Washington, Des Moines,
Holdridge and Lincoln, Nebraska,,,Witchita, Kansas. Nashville, Tennessee,,, Reading and Scranton, Pennsyvania,,,
Providence, Rhode Island,,, Boston, Massachusetts,,, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Each and every demonstration of large screen television was attended by thousands of people. Depending on
the size of the room, the picture was either 6 1/2 feet or 10 feet square. The receiver equipment was generally
placed on a eight foot high stand. The scanning disk was 45 inches in diameter and two inches thick. It was
made of cast aluminum and has 45 three inch diameter lenses located in three sectors. It weighed 120 pounds
and was put in place or removed using a block and tackle. On one occasion, after a show in Baltimore, the rope
broke as the disk was about to be removed. It fell to the floor with a great crash and broke into pieces. Most of
the 45 lenses were broken also. The disk was useless and had to be replaced. The next show was in 2 days, in
New York and the replacement disk was in Chicago. Needless to say; for the next show, the equipment was
ready. As they say, "the show must go on"!---and it did!

By 1934, with further improvements in his equipment, Ulises Sanabria was able to demonstrate pictures that
were 30 feet wide.

It is interesting to note that with all of the Sanabria stations that were operating and his strong interest in
showing television pictures in existing movie theaters, he was never able to show a movie film of any kind
using the Sanabria triple interlace system. Although one of his engineers, Armando Conto had in fact developed
a means of using motion picture films with the triple interlace system, It was totally impractical because of its
complexity and associated problems. For example, it required two sets of identical films of the subject matter,
operating in separate synchronized projection systems, while both films were being scanned by a common
scanning disk. Only alternate frames on each film were actually scanned.

Sanabria never presented even a cartoon film in any of his demonstrations and neither did any of the other
stations he had set up. At first this was not a serious problem, but in later years it became one.
A chassis, very similar to the one in the model 41
was later used in the "Empire State" television
receiver. The picture size on the model 41 was
approximately 4 1/2 inches square, whereas on the
Empire state, it was 8 inches square. The larger
cabinet also provided space for a complete sound
receiver and loudspeaker, mounted in the lower
portion of the cabinet.
In the years before World War II, Mr. Sanabria formed and was the
principal stockholder and president of American Television. They set up
and operated a very popular four year national correspondence school
principal stockholder and president of American Television. They set up
Doctor Lee De Forest was a consultant to Mr. Sanabria and the school.
and operated a very popular four year national correspondence school
They were in the process of setting up another branch in New York on
and a four year residence school in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles.
Pearl Harbor Day. During the war years, 2000 of their students were
training courses, in which they were granted the first Bachelor of
Science Degrees in Television.
During the war, the Signal Corps appealed to Mr. Sanabria to make
cathode ray tubes, which they already were doing in a small way. As
part of the training, the school had the students building both cathode
ray tubes and monoscopes which the students used in their
laboratory projects.
Sanabria Scanning Disk Mishap
Mr. Sanabria determined they could produce about 50 tubes a day, as a start. In a short while this was stepped
up to 1000 a day of all types and sizes. In December, 1948 production began on the 10 inch round picture
tubes, By May, 1949 they were producing 500 a day. The glass was supplied by Corning Glass Works and half of
the finished tubes went to Westinghouse, the other half to Tung-sol. Tube sizes increased rapidly and by
December, 1949 they were making their first 16 inch rectangular tubes.
In 1950, Mr. Sanabria went into the production of television sets under his name and opened self-owned stores
to sell them throughout the United States. He was producing 1000 sets a week. He built the cabinets, the
picture tubes and the entire chassis. He also went into military research and development and was
manufacturing image storage tubes, hydrogen thyratrons and the test equipment to evaluate them.
These activities were expanding all at once and no provision had been made for the proper banking procedures,
so all of the enterprises became co-mingled financially. This resulted in prohibitive taxes and military refunds, so
that even in his most successful years through 1955, Mr. Sanabria ended up with overburdening liabilities to the
Excise Tax Division of the IRS and the Fiscal Divisions of the Armed Services. He never recovered from these
losses.
Western Television, Empire State