April 1972 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history
of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights
are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from
TiVO systems are just the latest incarnation of programmable systems for
recording television programs for playback at a later time. In 1972, Sears, Roebuck &
Company announced "plans to market the first integrated videotape cartridge recording-playback
unit for the home." It was part of a package that included a specially designed 25" color
TV, a camera, and a recording / playback unit. The projected price of $1,600 is equivalent
to $9,435 in 2017 money*. As always, it was the early adopter technophiles who financed the
engineering and market research that eventually led to the sub-$1,000 monster
LED TVs and $200
TiVO units of today.
Earned engineering degrees had leveled off in numbers by 1971, with a grand total of 43,167
Bachelor's degrees, primarily electrical engineering. The American Society for Engineering
Education (ASEE) reports that 106,658 Bachelor degrees in engineering were awarded
in the U.S. in 2015. That represents a 147% increase over 45 years. The
U.S. population has increased by 155% in the same time, so that's about
Also in the news was Tandy's takeover of Allied Radio stores, which we know disappeared
many moons ago just as the last vestiges of Radio Shack are now disappearing.
Allied Electronics is still going
I have to admit that I have never owned or operated a TiVO unit, primarily because I do
not watch TV.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Sears to Market Home Video Recorder
At a recent press showing, Sears Roebuck announced plans to market the first integrated
videotape cartridge recording-playback unit for the home. The system includes a 25-in. color
TV console, which houses the videotape deck, and a lightweight black and white camera. The
unit will go on sale in the Chicago area for $1600. TV programs can be taped in color off
the air and prerecorded tape cartridges can be played back in color. Cartridges, either blank
or prerecorded, will sell for $13 to $40, depending on length and content. The longest tapes
offer programs up to 114 minutes. Full-length motion picture tapes can be rented for about
$6 for a single showing (tape cannot be rewound by the user). The tape deck is made for Sears
by Avco and uses the company's Cartrivision system. A portable color TV camera is in the works and is
expected to sell for around $400.
Ampex Quitting Consumer Equipment Market
Because of inadequate profits, Ampex is discontinuing operation of its consumer equipment
division. The division markets tape recorders for the consumer. The company will continue
to sell prerecorded and blank tape and will honor warranties and provide parts for its products.
The division represented only about 5 percent of the company's corporate sales last year.
About 200 people were with the division; their jobs will be gradually phased out or they will
be offered other positions with the company.
Tape Cassette Sales Expected to Rise 18 Percent in 1972
Cassette sales will rise 18 percent to about $330 million in 1972 according to a prediction
by Edward Smulders, manager of Norelco Cassette Dept. The increase will be aided by increased
distribution through supermarkets and drug stores. More than 142 million blank and prerecorded
cassettes will be sold next year, Mr. Smulders said, compared to an anticipated total for
1971 of 120 million units valued at $280 million. It is said that there are more than 16 million
cassette recorders in the U.S. - one for every four households.
Sperry Rand Takes Over RCA's Computer Customers
SSperry Rand and RCA have signed a final agreement under which Sperry will acquire RCA's
customer base in general purpose computers. Under the terms of the agreement, Sperry Rand's
Univac Div. will, starting January 1, provide software and hardware maintenance and systems
support to RCA's former computer customers in U.S., Canada, and Mexico. These include more
than 500 users with more than 1000 computers installed.
Tandy to Sell 36 Allied Radio Stores
The Tandy Corp. has agreed to sell 36 Allied Radio stores it acquired last year when it
took over the Allied Radio Corp. A civil antitrust suit was brought against the company last
year, and this agreement was contained in a proposed consent judgment filed in the U.S. District
Court in Chicago to settle the suit. If approved by the court, the proposal would become effective
within 30 days. Tandy would then sell 36 Allied Radio stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Texas. The government had charged that the takeover eliminates
competition among electronic parts dealers engaged in retail over-the-counter and mail-order
sales to hobbyists.
Electro-Voice and Scheiber Announce Four-Channel
A U.S. patent has been issued to Peter Scheiber of Audiodata Co. covering encoding and
decoding matrix techniques for four-channel recording and broadcasting. Scheiber and Electro-Voice
had previously agreed to pool their efforts in the protection of patents, licensing, and manufacture
of equipment using developments from both films. E-V's technical director, Howard Durbin,
stated that it is the company's belief that the patent is basic and will cover all current
or announced matrixing systems. The company is continuing development of their Stereo-4 system
(in conjunction with Leonard Feldman and Jon Fixler) which they describe as the first production
matrix technique on the market.
Consumer Electronics to Exceed $5 Billion in 1971
According to preliminary Electronic Industries Association statistics, consumer electronics
sales in 1971 will exceed $5 billion at the manufacturing level including imports, or $8 billion
at retail. This total market includes the sales of television, radio, phonograph, and tape
equipment as well as such items as electronic musical instruments, transceivers, hearing aids,
and home intercoms. Television, the industry's major product category, will have a record
year in both units and dollar volume. Domestic manufacturer sales and foreign imports will
exceed 14 million units - 7 million in color and 7 million in black and white - for a total
estimated sales volume of over $3 billion. In addition to the 14 million TV sales, radios
will reach 45 million units, phonographs 6 million, and tape equipment 15 million units.
Students to Participate in Skylab
Skylab, our manned earth orbital space laboratory to be launched in 1973, will carry some
experiments designed by high school students. More than 15,000 applications for participation
have been requested of the National Science Teachers Association, which is managing the activity
for NASA. Entries consist of proposals by students for experiments, demonstrations, or activities
to be performed by the astronauts. Deadline for the proposals to be submitted to the chairmen
of one of 12 regions was Feb. 4, 1972. Regional winners will be judged by a national committee
and 25 national selectees will be forwarded to NASA. Final selection will be made from the
national selectees on the basis of compatibility with Skylab requirements.
Engineering Degrees Show Leveling Off
The number of engineering degrees conferred by the 277 U.S. engineering schools during
the year that ended in June 1971 was only slightly more than for the previous year, according
to a report released by the Engineering Manpower Commission of the Engineers Joint Council.
There were 43,167 bachelor's degrees, only 201 more than last year. At the master's level,
where the increase over 1970 was largest, 16,383 degrees were awarded this year compared to
15,548 for the previous 12-month period. Doctor's degrees in engineering, at 3640, barely
exceeded last year's 3620. At both advanced degree levels this year's totals were the largest
ever recorded. The major field of study, amounting to about a quarter of the total figures,
was electrical engineering.
Posted July 5, 2017