July 1957 Radio & TV News
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early
electronics. See articles from
Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby
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
Designer (now RF Workbench) system simulator software was developed on the Packard
Bell computers. Here are some
of Packard Bell TV sets.
The Packard-Bell Color TV Line
By Walter H. Buchbaum
Television Consultant, Radio & TV News
Three of the four available Packard-Bell cabinet styles are shown
here. Four models, all using the same basic deluxe chassis, feature simplified consumer
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.
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)