Hall of Fame 2007 Ceremony
To watch last year's ceremony and learn more about this important industry initiative.
For more than 35 years, Charles A. Steinberg played an integral role
behind the scenes at Ampex and at Sony Broadcast, turning the technical
visions of industry leaders like Roone Arledge, Jules Barnathan, Don
Ohlmeyer, and Ken Aagaard into sports-television realities.
Born June 7, 1934, in South Brooklyn, Steinberg had a passion for
engineering that led to a master’s of science degree from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1955, he headed to California
to join Ampex, a relatively new company that would quickly dominate the
“I was drawn to Ampex because much of the innovation at that time was
in television and many of the first applications of a new technology
were in sports,” he says. “The people involved in sports production
often were the first to suggest a new innovation.”
Steinberg began his career as an engineer at Ampex, where he was
involved in designing the first system that allowed TV programs to be
recorded in color on one reel of videotape.
During the next 35 years, he would be involved in a wide variety of
videotape innovations. Two-inch tape, 1-inch helical tape, and Sony’s
Digital Betacam and HDCAM formats were just some of the tape formats
that Steinberg helped launch.
In terms of sports innovations, he says the 1968 Mexico City Olympics
are a favorite memory. The coverage marked the Olympics debut for two
technologies: handheld color cameras and the HS-100 color video
magnetic-disk recorder that allowed slow-motion instant replay.
“Roone Arledge and Jules Barnathan wanted to have instant replay that
would allow for slow motion and stop motion,” says Steinberg. “The
first development of putting video onto a disk system was no small
The Olympics once again drove technology forward in 1980 at the Lake
Placid Games. Steinberg and Ampex turned another of Barnathan’s visions
into reality: bringing digital video effects to the electronic still
store. ABC Sports and Ampex together developed a system that allowed
ABC Sports to take a single frame of video and apply digital video
“Charlie Steinberg, in a lot of ways, is really the founder of the
videotape replay that we all take for granted today,” says Ken Aagaard,
CBS Sports executive vice president, operations and production
services. “The technologies used at the Olympics by Barnathan, Marvin
Bader, and later at NBC Sports were due in large part to Charlie.”
In 1988, after rising to president and CEO and chairman of the board,
Steinberg left Ampex after it was sold in a leveraged buyout and joined
Sony, where he was named president of the Sony Electronics Broadcast
and Professional Co.
As president, Steinberg oversaw a decade-long product-development and
marketing effort that would make Sony the leader in a new age of
broadcasting: digital and high-definition TV.
In 1992, Sony launched the Digital Betacam format and, in 1996, built
an all-digital production unit used by Fox Sports for the National
League Championship Series and World Series.
Two years later. Sony Broadcast supplied HD equipment to CBS Sports
that enabled the first-ever HD broadcast of a professional football
game when the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills squared off on Nov. 8,
“To be successful, you need to surround yourself with people that are
capable and strong, whether it is technology or marketing,” says
Steinberg. “And you need to treat them the way you would like to be
Steinberg retired from Sony in 1999 and today lives in Woodside, CA, with his wife, Helen. —