The DC-10's in the AA
fleet in the 1970's had a cockpit camera, not a nose camera. As others have pointed out, external cameras, especially in color, are a relatively new feature, and are mostly related to very large airplanes that might otherwise be difficult to taxi without some kind of outside view, particularly of the main landing gear. You see, while taxiing, the mains must more or less straddle the taxiway centerline, and this is difficult to maintain in turns, especially with very long aircraft with the nosewheel behind the pilot seat.
As to the notion that the passengers on the AA
DC-10 in 1979 could watch the awful action on the TV
, I'm sure that most of them were watching and, more to the point feeling, the tragedy unfold out the windows and through the seat of their pants. The aircraft rolled beyond 90 degrees, and from the photo taken from the ground it is safe to assume that the roll was not fully coordinated; that is, it would have felt VERY frightening, like falling sideways. The actual cockpit camera view on the entertainment system was configured, in terms of exposure, to show the interior of the cockpit, and the outside view, what little there was of it, was usually overexposed and out of focus during the day.
The advent of high definition cameras and entertainment systems will probably portend an era when the very heavy and expensive cabin windows can actually be deleted from future transport aircraft designs. I am actually surprised that the A380 and 787 have cabin windows -- it would have saved many thousands of pounds of glass, plastic and metal if the fuselage had no windows or reinforced openings, and the sad part is that today, on both day and night flights, all of the shades are drawn anyway, the better to view the mostly insipid offerings of Hollywood! To open a window shade, at least on a day flight, is to risk being pilloried and excoriated without mercy!
Someday soon we will will also be able, technologically at least, to dispense with the cockpit windows, although by then I will be long retired from the left seat! I do still relish my view, you see - it's the best part of the job!