The 70mm Newsletter
by: Showmen’s Trade Review, October 15, 1955
TODD-AO is not a new brand of vitamin capsule. It's the trade name of a
new process of motion picture photography and projection and the name of
a new corporation which handles the equipment and installs it.
The name reportedly was born of a compromise between a conviction held
by Michael Todd and a belief held by others. Todd was convinced that the
process which he had dreamed up should, bear his name; others believed
that the American Optical Company, which developed the system from the
Todd idea, should have a part in the billing. Conviction compromised
with belief and TODD-AO resulted.
This hyphenated designation is a strange marriage in corporate history,
for its brings together Todd, who in his quieter moments is as placid as
an erupting volcano, with the American Optical Company, a "trust" which
has a detached, cool, scientific approach to the idea Todd views with
enthusiasm. American Optical, which has a well-deserved reputation in
scientific and manufacturing circles, is an old firm and the fact that
it is a "trust" attests in some measure to its dignified position. For
"trust" in the Massachusetts sense of the word has not the same meaning
that it has in the Sherman and Clayton Acts. It is a term which goes
back to the early days of the Commonwealth's law, which provides for
voluntary associations which are in effect similar to the corporations
of the present day.
Todd on the other hand has had a career that has been anything but
placid and which has included sensational successes and crashing
The TODD-AO Corporation came into being at Wilmington, Delaware, in
August, 1953, after an agreement had been reached by the American
Optical Company (which had developed the TODD-AO system) and
Theatre Corporation (which had been formed to finance research on the
system) that all patents, developments and the like would be turned over
to the new corporation.
This new corporation, whose stock is not offered to the public, has
eight shares of Class A voting stock, which are divided equally between
American Optical and Magna, thereby preventing either company from
dominating the corporation. In addition the TODD-AO Corporation has
10,000 shares of Class B Stock, 375 of which are owned by American
Optical and 625 by Magna.
The new corporation is licensed by its incorporators to deal in
equipment. It is to provide the cameras and licenses to producers who
wish to work in the TODD-AO system. At present there are seven such
cameras available, with 10 more to come and a deal is now being
negotiated with Mitchell Camera Company whereby Mitchell may manufacture
The new corporation is also the source of supply for theatres wishing to
install the TODD-AO system. At present two are so equipped - the Rivoli
in New York and the Egyptian in Los Angeles, both of which are United
Artists circuit houses. The Downtown, another UA house, in Los Angeles
is also being considered for equipment.
The corporation may expand its activities, in the equipment line
slightly by offering to exhibitors generally an all-purpose projector,
which permits projection in the TODD-AO system, and several different
systems, a spokesman for the company said. But it definitely has no
plans to enter exhibition and it will not become a manufacturer. The
items which at present go into the TODD-AO process are either
manufactured by American Optical or by sub-contractors retained by
American Optical and this set up is distilled to remain unchanged.
itself will be offered theatres in a package.
President of TODD-AO is Henry Woodbridge, president of American Optical;
George Skouras, president of Magna Theatres and United Artists Theatre
Circuit is board chairman; with L. Douglas Netter, Jr., former Altec sales
manager as vice-president in charge of exhibition equipment, James M.
Landis, secretary, and George J. Solomon, treasurer.
Working under this over-all organization is a staff that is to be expanded,
consisting of Philip Propper, assistant to Mr. Netter and in charge of
advertising, and a technical group consisting of Schuyler Sanford, chief
camera technician for TODD-AO; Fred Hynes, who handled sound for "Oklahoma!" and its TODD-AO Sound Supervisor, and two supervisors of theatre
installations - Fred Pfeiff and Al Childs.
in 70mm reading:
The Todd-AO Projector
Showmen’s Trade Review, October 15, 1955:
Oklahoma! in Todd-AO
Philips Collaborated On Projector Design
Todd-AO Projection and Sound
Six track recording equipment
All-Purpose Sound Reproduction
Rodgers & Hammerstein II
Six track recording equipment
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