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The Packard-Bell Color TV Line
July 1957 Radio & TV News

July 1957 Radio & TV News

July 1957 Radio & TV 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.

Even if you are even old enough to remember the Packard Bell line of desktop computers that appeared during the PC revolution of the late 1980s, you probably do not know that before making PCs, Packard Bell made television sets. Before that they made radios. Herb Bell and Leon Bell formed the company in 1933, then marketed their first radio model, the 35A. Neither Packard nor Bell had any direct family ties to the automobile maker or the telephone company of similar names, respectively. Packard Bell was sold to Teledyne in 1968, then in 1986, an American businessman named Beny Alagem and a group of Israeli investors bought the Packard Bell name from Teledyne. Because of a failing brand name, Packard Bell left the U.S. altogether in 2000. If you visit the Packard Bell homepage today, you will not find the U.S. or Canada in their list of companies. I owned at least two Packard Bell computers - an Intel i386 model and an i486 model - in the late 1980s and early 1990s and don't recall having problems with them. In fact, my famous TxRx Designer (now RF Workbench) system simulator software was developed on the Packard Bell computers. Here are some photos of Packard Bell TV sets.

The Packard-Bell Color TV Line

By Walter H. Buchbaum

Television Consultant, Radio & TV News

The Packard-Bell Color TV Line, July 1957 Radio & TV News - RF Cafe

Three of the four available Packard-Bell cabinet styles are shown here. Four models, all using the same basic deluxe chassis, feature simplified consumer controls.

One of the oldest west-coast manufacturers of radios and TV sets, Packard-Bell, has joined the growing ranks of color-receiver producers with a line of four cabinet styles, each using the same chassis and 21-inch color picture tube. While not in the lowest price range, all four models are competitively priced. The mahogany table model with legs has a list price of $595 and the blonde oak version lists at $625. Consoles range from $695 for the mahogany to $725 for the colonial maple finish. Since Packard-Bell stresses quality cabinet work and produces most of its own cabinets, the various list prices reflect mainly the difference in wood crafting and finishing. The sound system of the table models has a single, side-mounted 6" x 9" oval speaker, while the two console models use two 6" x 9" speakers mounted side by side on the conventional front baffle board. Aside from this, all four models are identical in circuitry, construction, and adjustments.


Only two dual controls are available for normal manipulation by the set owner, and these can be seen from the illustrations. At the upper left is the "on-off," volume, and brightness control, while the channel selector and fine tuning are at the upper right. Just below the screen, a hinged subpanel gives access to six more controls which the customer can adjust if necessary. These are the horizontal and vertical holds, contrast, tone, and the hue and color gain controls. In the manufacturer's instructions to the set owner, it is anticipated that, once the controls under the subpanel are set, they are not likely to require adjustment for long periods of time. Because of the various automatic control circuits used in the chassis, some of the color adjustments, such as background, gray balance, and color balance, may indeed be rarely used. 

The full array of conventional color adjustments for installation and servicing by qualified technicians is available, but the customer would have to remove the back cover and the sub-panel in order to get at the secondary controls. Adjustment of all these controls must be made very carefully and with reference to the manufacturer's instructions. The service technician will check these settings under all sig-nal conditions encountered in the particular installation because the various automatic circuits can only function properly when carefully adjusted. Especially sensitive are the noise threshold controls, the a.g.c. threshold, automatic color-gain controls, and the color-killer threshold setting.


The Packard-Bell models 21CT-1 and 21CC-1 both use the same type 98C-1 chassis, which is a single pan mounted horizontally below the picture tube. About 60% of the circuitry is in the form of printed wiring, divided into five separate sub-assemblies. An additional sub-assembly contains the color-demodulator section, and that is wired in the conventional manner. In these sets, the picture tube assembly is mounted to the cabinet and not to the chassis. To change the picture tube, the entire chassis as well as the tuner must be removed first. The tuner and a bracket containing the "on-off," volume, and contrast controls are mounted separately in their respective upper corners of the cabinet and are connected by cables to the main chassis. The tuner used is a Standard Coil "Neutrode" turret tuner, which features good noise figure and can be adapted for u.h.f. reception by the insertion of the proper coil boards. The power supply has a transformer and two 5U4 rectifiers followed by a two-section pi filter. Two separate fuses protect the "B+." A total of 29 tubes plus the picture tube is used as compared to 26 or fewer in some sets.

The circuitry and operational features of the new Packard-Bell color sets are in many respects similar to other sets previously described in this magazine, but there have been some significant changes. In general these novel circuits are intended to insure better performance rather than a saving in cost. Like most manufacturers, Packard-Bell is more concerned with producing a quality color set which will require a minimum of servicing rather than bringing the price down.

Service Policy

At least for the beginning of the color TV era, Packard-Bell offers a factory service contract, factory branch installation, and separate servicing through its own service organization. The initial contract offered to a color set customer covers delivery, installation to a satisfactory existing antenna, and 90 days unlimited service. The cost for this is $39.95 with additional labor and material charges for installing a satisfactory antenna. After the 90-day period, unlimited service including all parts is available at the rate of $7.50 per month for the first year and $12.95 per month for the second year. By breaking the service contract up into monthly installments, the customer is not faced with a relatively heavy charge in advance and has the right to cancel any time. This seems to be a desirable feature and may well be duplicated by other service organizations.

Aside from the service contracts offered, each set is covered by the standard 90-day warranty on parts and 1-year picture-tube replacement guarantee. Although the manufacturer has established his own service organization in some communities, he does not restrict customers to this factory service exclusively, especially in areas where no local factory branch is available. In line with this, Packard-Bell will provide service data on its color sets to qualified technicians.



Posted November 22, 2022
(updated from original post on 2/6/2014)

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