In October 1946, optical engineer Frank G. Back introduced a new zoom lens designed for film and television cameras. The Zoomar lens was adopted by newsreel and television, and soon became ubiquitous in American television production. Zoomar lenses enhanced postwar television, and prepared the ground for the later popularity of zooms in film production. This article explores the wartime innovations and industrial collaborations which aided the development of the lens. It documents a neglected aspect of the history of American television technology, and sheds further light on relations between small inventors and large corporate bodies during the mid-twentieth century.