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Patents Can Produce Odd Bedfellows–The Precision ACE D1 Radio

PRECISION ACE

I try to avoid writing strictly technical articles in this blog since it is aimed at those who only have a casual interest in technical history. However, I recently obtained a little radio that is unusual enough that I wanted to provide some documentation for other collectors.

The radio is the Radio ACE […]

Trash and Treasure

Nearly all that is now treasure was trash once upon a time. I happened upon an article about the used radio vendors of Cortlandt Street in 1932 New York. Nineteen thirties Cortlandt Street would seem to be a dream world for those of us who collect 1920s radios. The pace of technology had been swift. […]

An Obscure Cartoon

I recently purchased a stack of trade magazines from the 1930s and 1940s aimed at radio (and later) TV broadcasters and their advertisers. I came across this cartoon in a 1948 copy of “Broadcasting.” It is a bit confusing and not funny at all without a little background in post-war television history. When TV stations […]

Engineering Freebies of the Past

I really enjoy estate sales. You have the opportunity to wander through someone’s house, look at everything that the family has not already picked out, and decide what kind of person lived there. Sometimes you encounter a very boring person (at least to me—I expect those folks would find me boring too). Other times you […]

Wet Electronics–The Philco Battery Eliminator

So, what is this jar? It’s a power diode. What?

I’ll explain in a minute. First, some background. Early radios ran on batteries. Power supplies that allowed radios to be powered from an electrical outlet added too much cost at first to be added to an already expensive radio. By the late 1920s AC-powered […]

When the Mundane was Novel–Sears Sells a Flashlight

Most of the household items we use are so familiar that we cannot imagine instructions were ever needed to understand them. But all things were new and strange once. Consider the entry below from the 1908 Sears catalog—but first, a word about Sears.

Sears Roebuck and Company was a mail-order business in 1908. There […]

Write Your Own History! My Life (so far) With Computers

I WROTE THIS A FEW YEARS AGO AS PART OF A FAMILY HISTORY. I DECIDED TO POST IT HERE AS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS TO WRITE SIMILAR STORIES FOR THEIR FAMILIES. IF YOU ARE OLDER THAN 40 YOU HAVE OBSERVED SOME INTERESTING CHANGES IN DAILY LIFE THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE REALIZED. WHEN TELEVISION STATIONS […]

Going for that Next Upgrade–Tube Adapters from the 1920s

Some time ago I showed another engineer RCA’s data book for receiving tubes from 1934. She was stunned that most of the active electronic devices available to designers of that time fit into this ¼ inch thick volume. Having grown up on component data manuals larger than New York’s phone book, it was hard to […]

Live in the Country? The Care and Feeding of Your Gas Lights

One of my favorite old technology books is MECHANICS OF THE HOUSEHOLD, published in 1918. It presents just about every technology that was used for heating, cooling, lighting, and plumbing homes in the 1910s. Gas lighting was still going strong if electricity was unavailable. The number of variants of gas lighting is what’s interesting to […]

Now That was Different–The Kellogg Wave Master

I’ve said before that the early years of a technology produces some pretty strange animals. Designers are trying new things and companies are rather open to experimentation as they try to catch the consumer market. At the same time they are saddled with the fluctuating economics of the new tech. I enjoy collecting such radios […]