See more objects with the tag appliance, entertainment, red, spherical, monochromatic.

Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

1970

  • Work on this object began.

2016

2018

2019

  • You found it!

Videosphere Portable Television, 1970

This is a Portable television. It was manufactured by Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.. It is dated 1970. Its medium is molded plastic, acrylic, metal, chrome-plated metal. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The Videosphere portable television could be considered one of the most iconic electronic devices of the late twentieth century. Manufactured by JVC from 1970 through the early 1980s, the device combines the period’s preoccupation with space exploration with modern plastic and acrylic materials perfectly suited for the Videosphere’s cosmic aesthetic. The set was designed to be highly versatile and mobile; it rotates 360° on its square pedestal for viewing from any angle, and the chain affixed to the top of the device allows it to be mounted from the ceiling or hand-carried from one location to another. Additionally, the device could be powered by a cord plugged into any household outlet or, when used remotely, by a rechargeable battery (one advertisement suggested bringing the set to the beach).
The Videosphere was inspired by the helmets worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts, the first men to walk on the moon in 1969, just one year before the set made its debut. The device’s reflective spherical body recalls the protective caul of the Apollo 11 helmet while its smoke-toned plastic screen stands in for the astronaut’s visor. The shape is also thought to have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey; both the crew member’s helmets and the sinister computer HAL boast spherical, reflective plastic elements. In turn, the Videosphere has made a number of appearances in subsequent films including Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Sleeper in the 1970s, and Austin Powers and The Matrix in the 1990s. These roles indicate the device’s importance in the imagination of the twentieth century and contribute to its place in modern design and popular culture.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

  • Radio, 1940–49
  • bent wood, molded plastic.
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II.
  • 2016-5-18

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Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 36.2 × 24.1 cm (14 1/4 × 9 1/2 in.)

It has the following markings

Marked "JVC" on videosphere and on base.

Cite this object as

Videosphere Portable Television, 1970; Manufactured by Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. ; molded plastic, acrylic, metal, chrome-plated metal; H x diam.: 36.2 × 24.1 cm (14 1/4 × 9 1/2 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-51

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/404734373/ |title=Videosphere Portable Television, 1970 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=15 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>