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Sometimes You Just Need a Jumping-Off Place–Motorola and Raytheon

Some technologies only last for a year or so. Clever individuals can use those temporary footholds to jump into better things.

Pop Quiz–What was Motorola’s first product, and why was there a need for it?

Before Galvin brothers designed their Motorola car radio, they started life making B Battery eliminators.


In […]

It’s Just a Guy Thing

You see it in every age. It’s just a guy thing.

Here is a photo I recently ran across on the internet. It’s from 1902 or so. It documents the primordial urge. Even if they live in a village of mud shacks, guys have to have the lastest entertainment technology. . .

An […]

A Nineteenth Century Burglar Alarm

While we were on vacation in Virginia I found a wonderful old electrical device. It’s a six zone burglar alarm controller patented in 1889. Yes, they made burglar alarms that early, but you don’t see many of them.

In some ways, this carved walnut piece isn’t that far removed from a modern burglar […]

A Tale of Two Tubes–The Iconoscope and the Orthicon

Much of the information I share here came from Michael Ritchie’s excellent book PLEASE STAND BY, A PREHISTORY OF TELEVISION, and from Albert Abramson’s biography ZWORYKIN, PIONEER OF TELEVISION.

Here are two early television camera tubes I happened across several years ago. They represent the first and second generations of electronic television.


Finally, An Easy Project–Hallicrafter’s Seven Inch Television

Sometimes we get to benefit from the work of others, sometimes they benefit from ours. That’s how it goes in the antique hobby. I just finished the easiest TV project I’ve ever tackled thanks to the hard work of another collector. But first, some back story.

I bought Hallicrafter’s 1948 seven inch TV about […]

An Electrical Mystery Item

And now, another ancient electrical curiosity for your consideration. What do you suppose this is in my hand? It has a label identifying it as an insulating joint approved by the Underwriter’s Laboratories.

A what?

Well, at least with the UL label, we know that it should be well made. More obscure printing […]

Patience Can Pay Off–Radiola 28

Here are pictures of my RCA Radiola 28. The Radiola 28 was one of RCA’s early super-heterodyne radios, first offered to the public in 1925. Early super-hets were quite different animals than later units. You tuned the radio and tuned the local oscillator with separate controls enabling you to vary the intermodulation soup that makes […]

Arc Light!

In a previous life I did lighting design. As a result, I have always had an interest in early lighting technology. During a recent visit to our regional flea market, I saw something that doesn’t show up often–a 100 year old carbon arc streetlight. This one is solid copper with a mottled finish that was […]

Of Mice and Computers

I am reading a great book about the development of the ENIAC, one of the first electronic computers. The book is ENIAC by Scott McCartney.

The ENIAC was developed during World War Two to calculate artillery firing tables. Before computers, it took a room full of people several months to calculate and tabulate these tables. […]

A Tool for Road Warriors of Yesteryear

As a business traveler, it is interesting to consider the trials and tools of earlier road warriors. The device pictured below was as familiar to business travelers in the early to mid 20th century as a laptop is to us.

These little porcelain boxes were located in the lobbies of hotels, train stations, and […]