Around 1947, kinescope came into use to store live TV programs for later rebroadcast. Even though the quality of these recordings left much to be desired, they were initially the only way for nationally broadcasting the New York live performances of early television.
As new technologies for storing video became available, kinescope slowly began to fade in importance: In 1951, singer Bing Crosby's company introduced the first magnetic video recordings and RCA and Ampex would soon follow.
Around the same time, the stars of I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, decided to shoot their show on conventional film, which was necessitated by their insistence on producing their show in California. In retrospect, this was a good idea, since reruns would not suffer from degraded quality. With much of the TV industry moving to the West Coast in later years, kinescopes practically fell from use.
In Britain the process is called telerecording. Its first major British use was the recording of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. Many live and videotaped British shows of the 1950s and 1960s were preserved this way, usually with optical soundtracks. A few of these are on 35mm film, but because of the expense 16mm was normally used.
In the 1950s a home kinescope kit was introduced in Britain, allowing enthusiasts to make 16mm recordings of television programmes. The major drawback, apart from the short duration of a 16mm film magazine, was that a large opaque frame had to be placed in front of the TV set in order to block out any stray reflections - making it impossible to watch the set normally while filming. It is not known if any recordings made using this equipment still exist.
A kinescope image looks less fluid than an original live or videotaped programme, because film only has 24 (525 line/NTSC) or 25 (405-line/PAL/SECAM) frames per second as opposed to the original 60 or 50 (respectively) half-frames or fields used by video. In recent years the BBC has introduced a video process called Vidfire, which can restore kinescope recordings to their original appearance by interpolating video fields between the film frames. In view of this it is unfortunate that so very few black and white programmes are considered worth repeating today.