December 1958 Popular Electronics
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Since I live in Erie, Pennsylvania, an erstwhile
very industrial, albeit small town, it is always nice to run across information
on the area in my electronics magazines. There are still a few electronics businesses
in Erie, but as with most of the manufacturing from long ago, high tech here is
found mostly on the shelves of Best Buy and not on manufacturing lines. One notable
Bliley Electric Company, maker of crystal oscillators, who was
established in Erie in 1930. Bliley still operates today in a building about two
miles from my house. This advertisement from the December 1958 edition of Popular
Electronics magazine is by Erie Resistor Company. In doing a Google search,
I found a brief history of the company on a UK website. According to the author,
Erie Resistor opened a division in Yarmouth in 1932. Here is a
reference to Erie Resistor Company being credited for discovering the ferroelectric
oxide - "History of the First Ferroelectric Oxide, BaTiO3." Here is a 1930s
era patent issued for a "Resistor" - it doesn't get much more basic that that.
Erie Resistor building entrance
Erie Technological Products Zippo Cigarette Lighter
Since I live in Erie, I went down to the old Erie Resistor Corporation plant
at 644 West 12th Street and got these photos. The overhead causeway connected
both parts of the building to keep employees in comfort (it gets pretty cold and
windy in Erie) and safety (West 12th is a busy street, then as now).
Thanks to Bob Davis
for sending a link to a page on the Stock Lobster Antique Stocks and Bonds (now
defunct) website that has an image of Erie Resistor's official stock certificate.
Founded in 1929, the year beginning America's Great Depression, they evidently traded
under the name of Erie Technological Products, Inc. After legal run-ins with unions,
Erie Resistor sold out in 1981 to Japan's muRata Manufacturing Company and became known as muRata Erie North
See also the
Erie Resistor Corporation advertisement in the January 1952 issue
of Radio & Television News and the December 1958
Popular Electronics, and
Erie Technological Products in the October 18, 1965 issue of
You might find this bit of personal experience with Erie Technological Products
by RF Cafe visitor Rick Marz, KD6EFB, interesting.*
Erie Resistor Corporation Advertisement
Erie Resistor Corporation Advertisement
* Notes from RF Cafe visitor Rick Marz, KD6EFB (with permission):
12/20/2019: Kirt – I was doing a little research on the history of Erie
Technological Products, and discovered your RF Café site. My interest was personal,
as I was an employee of Erie Tech in the mid 60's, at their subsidiary, Electron
Research, Inc. at 530 W 12th St. As you know, Erie Tech was primarily a capacitor
manufacturer, their later technology being multi-layer monolithic, ceramic products.
Electron Research was an early semiconductor manufacturing company in the US, manufacturing
silicon and germanium diodes and assemblies. I left Erie, PA, in 1969 to join
Semiconductor in Cleveland, then the #2 semiconductor company in the world,
tied with Fairchild Semiconductor. At that time,
30%, Motorola and Fairchild tied at 20% each, made up 70% of the total, worldwide
In 1971 Motorola transferred me to Silicon Valley at a moment that I can honestly
say allowed me to experience 99.99% growth of the global semiconductor, computer
and communications industry. What a ride! I spent over 45 years in the industry,
and even in retirement find myself as an advisor to several companies.
Found your site very interesting, if you ever want to communicate, you have my
Rick Marz, KD6EFB (LinkedIn)
12/24/2019: Kirt – Thanks for getting back. Feel free to post anything
I have sent, it is all just historical. The name of the company was Erie Technological
Products, not "Technical." I haven't been in contact with anyone from Electron Research
in many years and fear many have passed away. I started to work there in my last
semester at Gannon, so was maybe 22 years old (I'm now 76, putting things
in perspective) and was virtually the youngest person in in the company, save production
There were three manufacturing entities in the company, Erie Tech, manufacturing
primarily ceramic capacitors at the time, Electron Research, my division, an early
semiconductor manufacturer producing germanium glass diodes, and silicon diodes
and rectifiers and assemblies.
As you may recall, the early semiconductor manufacturers in the USA were located
in around the east coast, many descendants of the venerable vacuum tube manufacturers
Sylvania and RCA. Some small startups in CA emerged around the universities.
Two big influences driving growth in the global semiconductor business, and the
geographical shift west were the acquisition of the executive team at
Shockley Labs in Palo Alto by
Fairchild Camera (Long Island based), which was the creation of
Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957, and the move by Dr. Daniel Noble then at Motorola
in the Chicago area, to Phoenix, AZ to start Motorola Semiconductor. Fairchild Semiconductor
was the incubator for what would become dozens of major, global Semiconductor companies
over the next several decades. In 1968 a Fairchild team (Noyce, Moore, Grove et
al) "spun off" to form Intel. A year later, another group of Fairchild dissidents
formed Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) where I spent almost 19 years.
Back to the Erie story. A third entity of Erie Tech was Fryling Manufacturing,
a precision metal stamping facility on West 11th street, behind Electron Research.
They produced many lead caps and components for capacitor manufacture as well as
A note about the market at that time. In 1965, we were in the midst of the Vietnam
conflict. Our major end markets included military customers, early mainframe computer
customers and the US television industry. Foreign imports of television receivers
hadn't begun. For Electron research, our largest single market were the early TV
manufacturers in the mid-west, including RCA,
and others. Germanium, point contact diodes were used as video detectors in the
receivers. I recall shipping over a million units a month at an average selling
price of around $0.05 each. With the war effort, we also had many customers in the
military communications field building squad radios like the
AN/PRC-77 transceiver. Eventually, night vision optics became
important to the war effort and Erie Tech built innovative high voltage capacitor
banks along with Electron Research high voltage rectifiers to use with multi staged
photomultiplier tubes. You can probably research that if interested. It used a basic
Cockroft-Walton circuit voltage multiplier. Very small, only a
few inches long, curved in shape, they wrapped around the photomultiplier to be
the core of small "rifle scopes" or sniper scopes. The input voltage was only around
3V, the output between 2-5kV.
Another historic evolution was Erie Tech's innovation in precision molded plastics.
They were an early company importing plastic molding technology and manufacturing
equipment into the USA. It's no coincidence that many of the country's largest,
molded plastics companies began or were located around Erie in the 60's. [note:
there are still many plastics manufacturers in Erie today - Kirt B.]
More history, in 1968, an executive at Erie, Tom Venable, founded a company in
Spectrum Controls, specializing in EMI and RF filter products.
As the capacitor and semiconductor businesses were in decline the Spectrum business
enjoyed robust growth, and was ultimately acquired.
Well Kirt, I didn't intend to blast out all that history, but once I got started,
I couldn't stop. I still have family in and around Erie, my two brothers are there,
many nieces and nephews, so I visit with some frequency. I agree that the city decline
from a manufacturing powerhouse in the 20's through the 90's was sad. Lots of theories,
but I think it will never be the same town that used to be a forge, foundry, machine
tool, plastics, locomotive, appliance, commercial fishing and motor capitol it once
Rick - Have a great Christmas.
Posted November 26, 2019
(updated from original post