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The Birth of a Picture Tube
September 1950 Radio Electronics Article

September 1950 Radio-Electronics

September 1950 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

The world is full of geniuses who have ideas with the potential to introduce history-making products and services to mankind. Thankfully, many of them manage to draw the attention to themselves and make their contributions available. Some of those same people have the talent to prepare their inventions and concepts for distribution, while others require the know-how of others - nowadays known as manufacturing engineers - to figure out how to mass produce a product with enough efficiency to make things affordable. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, George Westinghouse, Lee De Forest, and other recognizable inventors depended on assistance for ultimate success. I will soon be posting stories of De Forest's long, hard-fought path to success with his Audion tube which will make you wonder how people can have the fortitude to continue with so many hurdles placed before them. When reading through this account of television picture tube production at a Sylvania plant, you have to marvel at how, with the extreme amount of manual labor involved, it can be profitable. You also have to be impressed with the skill exhibited by the workers at all stages of the process. There was some level of automation integrated into the making of the cathode ray tubes, but mostly everything was assembled and/or processed by hand. Note the lack of personal protection gear at many work stations. It is no wonder so many people walked around with patches across their eyes, had scars from mechanical insult or chemical burns, and had missing limbs and appendages.

The Birth of a Picture Tube: Cover Feature

A complete story in photos of the production of TV picture tubes at the modern plant of the Sylvania Electric Company in Ottawa, Ohio.

Electron gun mounting section of the picture tube plant - RF Cafe

Electron gun mounting section of the picture tube plant.

Automatic stem making equipment seals metal leads into a glass wafer - RF Cafe

This automatic stem making equipment seals metal leads into a glass wafer. The electron gun is then welded to these leads.

Emissive material is carefully sprayed on the cathodes - RF Cafe

Emissive material is carefully sprayed on the cathodes in the apparatus in the above photo.

Completed electron guns are being carefully - RF Cafe

The completed electron guns are being carefully aligned for proper operation.

Overhead conveyers and other automatic equipment - RF Cafe

Overhead conveyers and other automatic equipment provide a continuous efficient movement of tubes during production.

Screens are coated - RF Cafe

Once the screens are coated, the conveyer above takes them to dry.

Making a metal television picture tube - RF Cafe

The first step in making a metal television picture tube is sealing the glass faceplate to the tube's metal cone.

Putting a coat of conductive material on the inside of a large glass picture tube - RF Cafe

The operator putting a coat of conductive material on the inside of a large glass picture tube.

Picture tube bulbs are thoroughly washed - RF Cafe

The picture tube bulbs are thoroughly washed to prevent contamination of fluorescent material.

Sealing the nearly completed picture tube - RF Cafe

Operator is sealing the nearly completed picture tube after it has been processed and exhausted. When it is finished, the electrical characteristics of leach tube must be checked.

Bulbs go through a high-temperature oven - RF Cafe

After coating and screening, the bulbs go through a high-temperature oven to drive out all organic matter. The operator above takes the bulbs from .the conveyer as they emerge from the oven and puts them on the overhead conveyer which takes them on to the next step.

Electron gun mounts and finished glass bulbs are sealed together - RF Cafe

Electron gun mounts and finished glass bulbs are sealed together. The tube is then ready for exhausting and finishing.

Picture tubes are exhausted - RF Cafe

The picture tubes are exhausted, processed, and sealed off in this new equipment designed for high-speed production.

Operator puts each tube into a test set - RF Cafe

The operator puts each tube into a test set where light output, vertical and horizontal scan, focus and many other characteristics are carefully checked with standards.

Life testing of large TV tubes - RF Cafe

Life testing of large TV tubes is a regular practice. These tubes are run day and night under their maximum ratings.

 

 

Posted February 6, 2020

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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