"Madman" Muntz TVs, Cars & Zany Commercials
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The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough to warrant an appearance.

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Madman Muntz: American Maverick - RF Cafe

Madman Muntz: American Maverick movie poster


Muntz Jet automobile - RF Cafe

Muntz Jet automobile

RF Cafe visitor Mike (WN2A) reminded me of "Madman Muntz," who was a widely known television commercial personality on the West Coast from the 1950s through the 1970s. Earl William "Madman" Muntz's zany live and animated commercials were used highly successfully in selling cars, including one he himself designed and manufactured called the Muntz Jet. Along with being a master salesman, Madman Muntz was also a self-taught electronics engineer of sorts. He is credited with developing the first 4-track stereo tape deck for cars (the Stereo-Pak), which was a precursor to the 8-track tape deck.

Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track tape player - RF Cafe

Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track tape player

Muntz Porta-Four 4-Track Tape Player Advertisement - RF Cafe

Muntz Porta Four portable 4-track tape player (eBay image).

Muntz TV stock certificate (scripophily.net) - RF Cafe

Muntz Stock Certificate (scripophily.net)

What Mike mentioned specifically was the line of Muntz television sets. Not satisfied to merely manufacture TV sets, Muntz created an entire service shop and fleet of mobile television trucks ("Muntzmobiles"). It was kind of an early version of the Nerd Herd. Based on the Madman's trademark method of minimizing the number of components used in his products, chances are the repair services were used often. According to legend, "He invented the practice that came to be known as 'Muntzing,' which involved simplifying otherwise complicated electronic devices. Muntz produced and marketed the first black-and-white television receivers to sell for less than $100." One tactic of Muntzing involved Earl roaming the engineering development laboratory with a pair of wire cutters in his hand, and after studying a designer's prototype model, would start clipping out resistors, capacitors, and inductors until the picture was no longer acceptable. He would then hand the critical component back to the engineer and tell him to solder that one back in and leave the others out. Such a practice assumes that all vacuum tubes and/or transistors (depending on the era), transformers, CRTs, deflection coils, and various Rs, Ls, and Cs are all going to be within a vary narrow tolerance range, and that nothing changes in value over time. It also assumes AC line voltage will be whatever it is on the workbench, and that ambient temperature and humidity conditions will be similar to the lab environment. Considering the aforementioned, it is unlikely that the Muntzing methodology was as "cut" and dry as presented. It was likely at least partly another bit of marketing propaganda.

Madman Muntz finagled his way into the Hollywood celebrity crowd in the process of building notoriety in the business world. He was truly a major one-man force within his wide realm. A biographical movie entitled "Madman Muntz: American Maverick" was produced to document his amazing life


Madman Muntz: American Maverick Movie (TV part begins at 40:09)


If all this has piqued your interest in Madman Muntz, just do a Google search on his name and you will be treated to a huge number of websites with photos, advertisements, videos, and biographies.



Posted April 10, 2020