The man who invented instant replay has died


You don’t tend to think of instant replay as being something that was “invented,” as such. It just seems logical and natural for us to expect that something which is shown on television can, almost immediately, be shown once again and, preferably, in slow motion.

But nope, it was invented. By a man named Tony Verna, who worked for CBS:

Verna invented the technique while he was working for CBS in 1963, when he developed a method for cueing tape right up to a play he wanted to immediately re-air. The network first used it during the Army-Navy game on December 7, 1963, causing mass confusion with viewers. Announcer Lindsey Nelson even had to warn viewers that the clip they were about to see “is not live,” and that “Army did not score again.”

Instant replay changed the way people watched sports and, eventually, the way sports were actually played, what with the adoption of replay review in most major sports now. It’s amazing it took as long as it did between Verna’s invention of it in 1963 and when it was finally adopted by leagues.

Verna died at his home on Sunday at the age of 81. He had been suffering from leukemia. His legacy will last, however, even if no one knows it’s his legacy.