I was walking around Morningside Heights the other day when I passed by this interesting courtyard at 521 West 111th Street. I went in to take some pictures…
…and I noticed this odd sign to the the left of the front door.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. But the more I considered it, the more I realized I had no idea what it meant and why it would be here of all places. Was it referring to the standard definition of a teleprompter, a machine that scrolls text for television broadcast cues? If so, was there really a problem with too many teleprompters in the neighborhood? Or was “teleprompter” another word for some sort of installer, maybe in regard to cable or telephone service? The sign on the other side suggested this might be the case…
But why Teleprompter? In fact, the sign even correctly capitalizes the word TelePrompTer as per the TelePrompTer Corporation (note the great world-domination-suggesting logo):
After some research, it turns out that TelePrompTer, indeed the company that revolutionized broadcast text display devices, was one of the first to venture into the uncharted realm of pay cable services in the 1950’s. They were present in New York at least until the early 1980s as a principal cable provider for the city. I’m not sure what happened to them after that. Any actual New Yorkers (i.e. those that lived here prior to 1980) want to comment?
Regardless, I love that this sign is still on the building. It seems unlikely that they’ll have any trouble with the ol’ Teleprompter Man putting his cables in the wrong place for people to trip over…but better safe than sorry.
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