He invented the first handheld video camera

Former ABC television exec Robert Trachinger died Sept. 19 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., of heart failure. He was 86.

Trachinger’s technical skills earned him respect in engineering circles as well. He worked to develop slow-motion videotape for replay, which changed sports broadcasting after its introduction in 1961, the first hand-held TV camera and the first underwater TV camera, which he tested in his own swimming pool.

Trachinger started working in the biz in the 1950s and moved up the ranks at ABC, eventually retiring as its VP of television in 1985. During his tenure at the network, Trachinger worked on everything from the Kennedy/Nixon debates to the Academy Awards. Beginning with Innsbruck in 1964, he also worked on every Olympic Games through 1984.

As a professor emeritus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Trachinger taught courses in production and ethics in media from 1968 to 1998. He also taught overseas at the Sorbonne in Paris and Tel Aviv U. in Israel.

In 1997, the San Diego Press Club honored him with its Headliners Media Legend Award, five years before he began teaching at UC San Diego Osher.

Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Helga; daughter Mia, a filmmaker; son Set; and a granddaughter.

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