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National Union Radio and Electronic Tubes
September 1944 Radio News

September 1944 Radio News
September 1944 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

In 1944 when this National Union Radio Company ad appeared in Radio News magazine, the price of gold bullion was $35 US per ounce, as established by the Bretton-Woods Agreement. Inflation remained near zero until 1971 when President Nixon removed the U.S. treasury notes (dollars) from the gold standard. Take a look at the inflation chart in the background of the RF Cafe header (top of page) to see what has happened since then. Today's spot gold bullion price is around $1800 per ounce - a factor of 51x higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator, $35 in 1944 had the equivalent purchasing power of $538 today - a factor of 15x. That means the inflation-adjusted price of gold is about 3x what it was when National Union decided to use it to plate the wire control grid of its high power vacuum tubes in order to minimize performance-degrading grid emissions. Because relatively little gold would have been used, it is doubtful a 3x rise in the price would have caused them to stop using it if the tubes were still in production today. By now, though, there is a good chance another less expensive material and/or method would have been developed to reduce grid emission. Regardless, the word "gold" is an attention grabber that at least psychologically adds value to any product to which it is applied.

Here is the October 1944 National Union Radio Company ad.

National Union Radio and Electronic Tubes Ad

National Union Radio and Electronic Tubes, September 1944 Radio News - RF CafeGold Makes Electrons Behave

It was a great day for radio communication when National Union engineers developed the technique of gold plating certain tube parts. For by this ingenious means they measurably extended the life of power tubes.

The object, here, was not to make power tubes structurally stronger - or even more durable. Already these tubes were sound enough mechanically to do a bang-up job. What the N. U. process of gold plating did, was to make the electrons behave. N. U. engineers demonstrated that by gold-plating the grid wire, they automatically eliminated a very disturbing factor in power tube performance, known as grid emission. The source of this undesirable primary emission was imprisoned within the gold. No longer could it interfere with the planned and controlled electron flow within the tube. Result - power tubes of a higher performance level and longer life.

Thanks to the greatly expanded electronic research program at National Union Laboratories, many such improved tubes with wide application in America's homes and industries will be available at the war's end. Count on National Union.

National Union Radio Corporation Newark, N.J.

Factories: Newark and Maplewood, N. J.; Lansdale and Robesonia, Pa.



Posted July 7, 2021

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