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Frederick M. Remley papers

 Collection 0057-MMC-NPBA

Frederick M. Remley (1929-2019) was internationally known for his work in negotiations concerning global standards for video recording. His involvement originally began in 1959, when the National Educational Television and Radio Center (NET-RC), then housed in Ann Arbor, received a multi-million-dollar grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant enabled the purchase of video recorders to be installed in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. to facilitate educational video distribution.

The Remley papers describe his work both on the Video Tape Engineering Committee of the National Educational Television and Radio Center and as part of the efforts to standardize videotape format internationally.


  • 1957-1973, nd
  • Majority of material found within 1959

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


1.75 Linear Feet


Frederick Marion Remley was born on May 20, 1929 in Washington, Pennsylvania. From 1947 to 1948, he did engineering work for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company while attending classes at the University of Michigan. He also worked at WKMH AM-FM (now WNIC AM-FM) as a part-time radio engineer during the summer of 1951. He received a B.S. in Physics at the University of Michigan in 1951. Remley had planned to pursue a career in nuclear physics, but in 1949, while still an undergraduate, he became involved with the then-new university radio station WUOM (FM). He met his future wife, Anne Gardner, while working in radio program production in 1950. They were married in 1952.

Remley's engineering career at the University of Michigan continued for many years. After graduating, the University hired him to install its first television studio, and he remained there until his retirement in 1993. From 1952 to 1958, he worked successively as senior television engineer, studio television engineer, television studio supervisor and television studio technical supervisor. Then, from 1958 to 1988, he served as Technical Director of Broadcasting for the University of Michigan. From 1982 to 1986 he was also Director of the Media Resources Center. From 1988 to 1993 he served as Staff Video Specialist for the Information Technology Division of the University, working with digitized images and computer networks.

Remley is best known for his work in negotiations concerning the much needed standards for video tape recording. In 1959, National Educational Television and Radio Center (NETRC), then housed at the University of Michigan received a multi-million dollar grant from the Ford Foundation to purchase videotape recorders. After considering RCA and Ampex, the Video Tape Engineering Committee decided to purchase forty-three 2-inch Ampex videotape recorders (VTR's). Remley joined this committee in June of 1959, having been appointed by Jack White and Howard Town. This committee had the charge of selecting the make of machine to be purchased and to specify conditions to be met before the machine would be granted to a member station.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Remley helped establish an international standardization of video tape format. During this time Remley also served as United States delegate to and held key roles in international standards organizations including CCIR and the European Broadcasting Corporation. From 1966 until 1979 Remley chaired the CCIR committee concerned with Standards for Video Tape and Film Recordings for the International Exchange of Programmes. In 1966, he attended the Eleventh Plenary Assembly of the International Telecommunications Union International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) in Oslo, Norway. There, Remley chaired the Television Standards Committee of the Video Tape Recording and the Use of Film for International Program Exchange group. His experience with the NETRC videotape recorder purchase and his technological competence made him a good choice as chair of the Video Tape Recording Committee of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) from 1966 to 1970. He later chaired the SMPTE Standards Committee and the Committee on New Technology.

By the late 1970s, there was a definite need to agree on a standard for 1" video tape. American, Japanese and European companies were competing for an estimated $500 million market and were placing incompatible recorders on the market by 1976. Remley, helped by a strong backing of broadcasters, successfully encouraged committee members to reach agreement by mid 1977. Indeed, in June 1977, he participated in the International Television Symposium and Technical Exhibition in Montreux, Switzerland. Here, the one-inch Sony and Ampex VTRs were displayed in production models built to European broadcast standards. The one-inch standard videotape agreed upon became known as SMPTE Type C Format. In 1979, Remley, on behalf of the SMPTE, received an Emmy citation for the standards effort.

Remley's work in video recording standards continued with chairmanship of Subcommittee 60B (Video Recording) of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Committee) from 1981 to 1995. From 1984 to 1986 he chaired the committee that standardized the first digital video recording system, the 19mm SMPTE Type D-1 format. Between 1965 and 1995 Remley served as an SMPTE vice president, a member of the Board of Governors and, for many years, Chairman of the Board of Editors of the SMPTE Journal. He has been awarded the SMPTE Progress Medal (1990), the Eastman Kodak Gold Medal (1995) and is an Honorary Member of the Society (1991). He currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Organized as one series.

  1. Series 1: Videotape Recorder Issues

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Frederick M. Remley papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Frederick M. Remley in April 1993.

Guide to the Frederick M. Remley papers
Processed by Karen E. King, June 1995.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2008-11-14: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2010-07-19: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2010-12-08: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-11-12: Finding aid reviewed and edited by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2019-01-18: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-06: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742