The slow-scan, black-and-white television system used on Apollo 7 and Apollo 8 shot only 10-frames per second with 320 lines of resolution. In comparison, had the American NTSC television standard of 1968 been chosen—525 interlaced lines, 30 frames per second—ten times more bandwidth would have been required.
Futuristic by 1968 standards, the ease of the RCA camera’s point-and-shoot design and pistol-grip control foreshadowed the appearance of the first consumer home video cameras of the 1980s. This lightweight camera was fitted with either a wide-angle lens (for shooting the astronauts inside the command module) or a telephoto lens (for shooting the Earth or the Moon).
The RCA slow-scan command module TV camera was used on Apollo 7 and Apollo 8, not only to broadcast images to an eager public, but also to test the use of real-time television feeds from spacecraft in Earth orbit and lunar orbit. The system was designed to send signals over all unified S-band NASA tracking stations while in Earth orbit, and through the three stations with 85-foot antennas located in Canberra, Australia, Goldstone, California, and Madrid, Spain, while broadcasting from lunar distances. As Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to leave Earth orbit with humans aboard, live television was a critical component of the public relations aspects of the mission and a crucial test of the technologies that would eventually be used with upgraded TV cameras broadcasting images of humans on the surface of the Moon. The combined weight of the RCA camera and its cables and lenses was only 6.2 pounds, remarkably light given the technology of the time. The camera system was developed by RCA for a total contract cost to NASA of approximately $4.2 million.
This prototype camera has red "RCA" decals and manufacturers information on both sides. It was used in training for Apollo 8 and is signed in black sharpie on top by the complete Apollo 8 crew. This training camera was acquired from the Paul Haney Estate collection. During much of the Apollo program, Haney was NASA director of public affairs and it was his voice that broadcast audiences heard live from the Houston control room, explaining what was going on.
The top image is from this collection and is the training model. Below it a flown example of the camera from the Apollo 7 mission which is now in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and below that is an RCA consumer ad talking up their role in Apollo.