EARLY COLOR TV
The Second Year
June 2001 to June 2002
devoted to anything related to vintage color TV.
From Tidbits II, it's possible to search the entire site using key words, and you can use Boolean operators. For example, type "Model 5 and Bloomington" and get two hits. Type "model 5 or bloomington" and get about eight hits. Click on Help if you need more information.
Who says we don't dream in color…?
What I just recently learned was that Philadelphia's CBS outlet, WCAU channel 10, had two TK-41 color cameras. A newspaper, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, owned WCAU-TV until the summer of 1958. Then CBS took over and promptly dropped local color and kept the station monochrome for the next eight years or so.
But occasionally, the first CBS network show of a new season would be in NTSC color. I watched those shows over WCAU-TV on my RCA CTC-10, then by 1963, on my CT-100. I particularly remember "Lassie" and "Dr. Kildare" in color for one show only. But, to listen to the network hype, a monochrome TV owner would think the entire series was in color.
--Now when COLOR was New--
to the present
past-perfect becomes present-day.
It's a hot mid-August day in 1954.
Frank Stanton, head of CBS, complains vociferously that the Senate's ban on televising the McCarthy hearing is unfair.
New Jersey's first school of medicine and dentistry opens at Seaton Hall University's Jersey City Medical Center.
A new 10-trip ticket goes into effect on The New Haven and Hartford Railroad -- fairs from Darien, Conn. to New York City are $1.10 one way.
Regimental combat exercises are under way at Fort Meade, covered by portable, ground-based, and aerial television cameras. The country gets to watch the action on a national network broadcast. Click on...
It is the middle of February 1955.
We are nearly 1000 feet above Fifth Avenue in Manhattan...
in the Empire State Building.
Joe Marotta is tending the video and aural transmitters at the flagship CBS television station, WCBS-TV channel 2, in New York City.
There... in the corner, the only off-air color monitor at this site. A CBS-Columbia RX90? No way. Click on...
1955 is cool.
A throaty rumble trumpets from dual glasspacks. 292 cubic inches of Ford V-8 muscle nudges your Victoria ragtop efffortlessly, smoothly, down West Alameda.
You're cruising Burbank.
A big sign on a new building catches your eye. Click on...
Shed some light on the "19-in." 15GP22?
Hi, I thought you might find this interesting. I was looking at a tube manual that lists the 15GP22, 15HP22, and a third CRT with electrostatic convergence and the same base as the 15GP22, the 19TP22. The manual is an old GE tube manual copyrighted 1962. --Andy Cuffe
Same base. Electrostatic convergence. Looks as though we have the number of our 19-in. 15GP22. Click here for more background. Thanks Andy for the info. --Pete
Your site has resolved a puzzle that went
without an answer for more than 42 years.
It was a two-piece TV chassis, there was no cabinet, the chassis appeared to be copper plated, and its CRT was very strange looking. One day when I was really curious, I went in to ask what it was. The technician said it was a color TV, but it didn't work.
The thing that haunted me the most over the years was the picture tube. Clearly, it was a very early model, even experimental in nature. The actual viewing screen appeared to be a flat glass phosphor plate mounted behind the front faceplate of the tube. For more than 42 years, the image of that strange color TV chassis and weird-looking CRT stayed in the back of my mind.
Thanks to your site I now know that it was the same CRT that is in your RCA CT-100. And thanks to your page about the 15GP22, I have solved the riddle of that weird CRT with the flat piece of phosphor-coated glass inside it.
I have since found someone else's site through your links with photos of what I believe was in the window the repair shop. Although Bruce has a photo of a two-chassis Admiral that appears to be copper plated, the photo which Rob has posted of his prototype Westinghouse is by far a better match due to the physical mounting of the CRT directly on the chassis itself. I wonder if Rob's set uses a separate power supply chassis? If it does then we have a match .
Hope you will have good luck rebuilding the CRT for your set. I would love to see one of these pieces of history some day.
Important technological breakthroughs that have changed the whole world as we know it, must be preserved for posterity.
Keep up the good work.
The 15GP22 tricolor picture tube and its progenitor, the developmental C-73599, were the first of only a few color picture tubes to use a large round flange to get ultor voltage inside the tube. This flange isolated the glass faceplate from the glass funnel, and thus it created a huge metal-to-glass seal with concomitant vacuum integrity issues. Click here for more .
TV Tidbits from the Distant Past
Some of them had worked on the RCA assembly line in Bloomington, Indiana. One old-timer told me that in 1928, he was working on a radio assembly line when all of a sudden, the cabinets started showing up with a hole in them. When he went to ask what the holes were for, he was told they were for television.
In 1975, I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where there were remnants of W9XK, the University of Iowa mechanical scanning television station that broadcast a signal from 1934 to 1939. They also operated W9XUI, an electronic system based on the EMI system. I bought all of the negatives from the U of I. --Rick Plummer
A frequent contributor to this and other sites, Steve Dichter acquired his CT-100 (working, but with horizontal hold problem) from a guy whose wife made him refinish the cabinet in white. Looks much better this way, Steve... :)
This is a summer 2001 photo.
I live in San Diego, CA and am the guy with a CTC-2B who Jeff mentions in his e-mail to Dave (where you discuss the CT-100 shown in the HDTV ad) at:
I have been frequenting your site for about a year now; however, I felt some envy at reading the exploits of the guys who have a Merrill in their collections.
Am elated to report that as of Saturday, August 4th, I have joined the ranks of CT-100 owners! I was fortunate enough to acquire a CT-100 from a party in the Los Angeles area. The set is in overall good condition cosmetically with a few problems that need resolving such as removal of various nicks and a few deep scratches, some repair work to the veneer at the corners of the top lid, and a needed repair to one of the horizontal bars over the speaker grill, but thank God is still present and hanging on. Am hoping to have it cleaned up and polished in a month or so. At this point, the set's operational condition is unknown.
I did make a rudimentary check of the CRT by placing my VOM across the filament pins and I did get continuity, which is a good sign, but of course guarantees nothing. Perhaps at a later date I can investigate the chassis more thoroughly. It is coated in a fine layer of dust, which tells me that at least it has not been molested in recent history.
A broadcast engineer owned these set at one time, but apart from that I have very little knowledge of its prior history. Will do some asking and see if I can do some further investigating into its past. The number stamped into the rear of the cabinet and lid is 386. I am seeking a channel number indicator dial for this set which is the only part that is missing.
Will continue to keep up on the 15GP22-rebuild news. If eventually I get this set operational, it will be good to know it can be rebuilt.
I still have this great 21-CT-55 I acquired from Jeff a few years ago.
Get the latest dispatch from Gillbert on his information exchange page. To continue with this and other stories, surf over to the Information Exchange menu via the Restoration menu. --Pete
Just heard this story from a servicer out of San Diego (no connection to our previous San Diego item). It seems his brother and he were checking a NIB 15GP22 they had owned for years. When the brothers removed it from its original RCA carton, they got a kiss-off greeting more than one of us has experienced -- white, powdery getter flashes.
It was the kiss of death for a 15G when this happened twenty years ago. So the brothers did what I would have done in that situation. They took it apart. The faceplate was removed from the funnel to access the interior, but it turned out to be much easier than expected. Part of the faceplate around the ultor flange had separated. The metal-to-glass seal had, in effect -- although the 15G had always been stored in its original carton -- self-destructed.
Depressing. But there can always be a bright side, and this is no exception.
While their ill-fated NIB 15G has long been polluting a landfill somewhere, the brothers have 15GP22 s/n LB 8727, date code 4 17. They report that it had a bright picture when last operational sometime in 1968. On September 1, 2001, the getters were bright-silver in appearance, and the filaments took on that appealing warm red glow when excited by 6.3 Vac. --Pete
Here's an update on the condition of old but nimble LB 8727. This information was received from Walt on September 6. I did check the emision on the tube with a B&K 470 checker. The blue and red guns came up to normal emision in about 2 minutes, the green took 12 minutes. That was on Sunday. Tonight, Wednesday, the blue and red were the same, the green took 9 minutes. I will leave the checker on it for one hour, then check again Thursday night. And Walt's followup September 10. Hi Pete, The green gun came to full emision in just 3 minutes today, 9-10. I belive this tube wiil work as well as it did the last time I saw a picture on it some 30 years ago. Walt.
It's gratifying to know that a 15GP22 showing so high a degree of operational probability can pop out of the woodwork! Will continue to track this "new" tube that began its post-Lancaster life in a long-since trashed 1954 GE color set. --Pete
past and present
CT-100's are notoriously cranky egotistical monsters, always groveling for attention. Not that I don't love my old number 605. From the fifties through the late sixties, the CT-100 was maintained by servicers for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and even a college frat house or two. It's the servicemen -- those guys who had to keep the cantankerous beasts glowing for their owners -- who complained the loudest. Check out this story from CT-100 owner John Hora…
My CT-100 fell into my hands in the early 1970's. I was picking up a telephone answering machine from a repair guy when I saw the set in his back room. He was moving and didn't want it. It had been in his family since it was new.
Since I drove a Studebaker Wagonair, I was able to take it on the spot. Once home, I called RCA to inquire about service. They gleefully reported they had thrown out everything and had a party when they trashed the jig used for service.
This CT-100 came from Bloomington, but it was never built there.
It is genuine RCA Merrill to the core, but it didn't exist until the 21st century.
Get the latest dispatch from Tim on his information exchange page. To continue with this and other stories, surf over to the Information Exchange menu via the Restoration menu. Read how Tim "assembled" the fifty-third CT-100 cataloged by this site. --Pete
New York Times article referencing the lost
and returning VHF television transmitters.
"The long-term solution may be rectified only by the
The orange and white box on the shelf holds its never-sold NIB Granco T-300.
Color video technology development.
It spawned an entirely new commercial product, so successful
that its solid-state successors thrive to this day.
In the fifties, the Hazeltine Company on Long Island, New York developed a system for viewing motion picture negatives as a positive on a tricolor screen. A five-inch broad-spectrum monochrome CRT illuminated the film. The image was collected by photomultipliers behind a dichoric beam splitter, and special amplifiers shaped the video signal, so the image on the display CRT was like looking at a film on a screen in a theater.
I make color film analyzers and had the old stock from Hazeltine when they discontinued production. Film-analyzer equipment is still very much in use around the world -- in film labs making color corrections from student films up to the biggest pictures from Hollywood. There is credit at the end of a film for the color timer. He or she actually determines the final exposure of the finished picture using a color film analyzer.
Hazeltine still exists, but sold the film analyzer business to a Hollywood company in 1985. The machines today are the size of a desk and use a Panasonic CRT, but up through the late seventies, RCA tubes were used.
The earliest analyzers are now all gone -- the last survivor was an all-tube design from the late fifties that ultimately used a 21FJP22. It was in India, still running in 1995.
About five years ago, a Mexican company traded in a tube analyzer that was totally inoperable, but it had the very first display, the 15-inch RCA tube. The user told me it last worked about 1975. Components had been removed over the years to fix other, newer machines. These were mostly film transport parts.
Management decided to toss all the old tube-based analyzer inventory to make room for other stock and remove the expense of carrying obsolete inventory. We had not sold a 15-inch CRT in years. Introduced in a Nov. 3 News & Notices entry, that's the story-thread behind how a six-pack of NIB 15GP22's was lost just four years ago. Thanks Ric for your interesting contribution. --Pete
Color Television Chassis
that began 1954 with CTC-2. The series continued
with the CTC-2B, CTC-4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and so on…
Here's a slice of history surrounding CTC-1…
I am fascinated by the early development of Color TV. In my 20's, I worked for the RCA Service company; they still had a CTC-9 in their training facility in Long Island, NY. I had two instructors, W. Ted Excelide and Ernie Holob, who were trained by Sarnoff's original engineering team on the CTC-1 (never produced). I didn't realize at the time the real significance of their work (they were in their 60's by this time, around 1980), but I was interested enough to ask a lot of questions about the development. They were kind enough to share their experience with a kid who was not yet born when they did their most significant work.
Ernie explained that one of the problems with the CTC-1 was maintaining purity. The shadow mask had not been perfected at this time, and the vertical scan induced by the yoke would cause the mask to vibrate. One of the engineers was experimenting by changing the bias on the vertical output tube. As a joke, another engineer hid behind a wall (behind the set, out of the view of the engineer working on the vertical circuit). Every time the engineer working on the set made a change in the vertical circuit, the joker behind the wall would energize a de-gaussing coil, causing the set to go nuts. This went on for awhile until the culprit was exposed.
I think Ernie was the straight man in this situation.
Kirk Stankiewicz, CT
Color video technology development.
The industry breakaway from RCA tricolor shadow-mask tubes came from Bing Crosby and Paramount. They developed a single-electron-gun CRT for sale to consumers that worked around the patents. Paramount found a small tape-recorder company in Japan to develop the patent. Trinitron was the name given to the tube, and Sony was the manufacturer.
Early color tubes from Sony have a license notice that Bing Crosby Productions was the patent holder. --Ric
But these are very close to what came off the modem.]
Subject: 19-inch color
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 09:07:44 -0600
I own (not in my possession though) a 1954 Motorola 19 inch color; I had a new color tube manufactured for it in 1988. The rebuilder was not willing to rebuild the metal picture tube. It is currently at a repair shop, which went out of business. It worth trying to get it back? His assistant told me it is still in storage. I believe that it is actually in very good shape. It was a promo set at the start of color, then sat in a radio shop here in Omaha till 1988.
Thanks, Alan Head
> Hi Alan,
> Is it worth trying to get it back?
> You bet! There are many collectors and museums who
> display sets such as yours. A 1954 color set is both rare
> and of value to those who treasure early color television
> and wish to preserve it. Apparently the set still has a
> 19-in. CRT and was not converted to 21-inches.
> If you have the time, I'd appreciate hearing more about
> the your experience having a tricolor picture tube
> manufactured. Do you recall who did it? Are they still in
> business? Did they use any of the original tube in the
> manufacturing process? Was it reasonable in cost?
> Please keep me posted, and thanks for responding to my
Subject: Re: 19 inch color
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 21:54:15 -0600
I'll try to find out who did it. I think they were in Arizona, but I just don't remember now. I don't think there are many picture tube remanufacturers left any more. It was a round 19 inch all glass replacement for the metal tube with a glass front, I wanted him to use the original tube, but he would not. He told me the metal tubes were very dangerous because they were prone to implosion. He said they were much too dangerous to rebuild. I threw the metal tube out because of the possible danger. I was very surprised that he had the 19 inch round tube, since from what I understand is that they were only sold for about 6 months. It was a new tube that he built from the components. It cost me about 150 dollars. I wonder if there was some industrial application for that size tube. Nothing else I could think of would explain why this stuff was still around in the 80's. If I remember correctly (I might be wrong, it has been a while) there was also an more rare 13 inch model, that after the first six months became a 15 inch model. I think he had both. The one part I couldn't find was some sort of high voltage regulator. All that I remember was it was cylindrical, though the TV did work with the old one. Chassis was strictly the RCA design, Solid copper. It was licensed to Motorola. I contacted RCA/GE labs, and some manufacturer in Europe to try to track down the part, but had no luck. It may take me a few weeks, but I'll work on finding the picture tube remanufacturer....
Thanks, Alan Head
Although the reason why may be lost in Bloomington antiquity, it's clear that mechanical designers opted to stretch the CTC-2 chassis by adding an auxiliary section (rather than manufacture a larger chassis) that would accommodate real-estate requirements for non-color-related circuitry. The bolt-on front section of a CTC-2 chassis contains, beginning at the far right rear, the complete 5-stage IF strip, video and audio detectors, and the complete audio section including two IF stages, the ratio detector, voltage amplifier, and 6AQ5 audio power amplifier. Audio IF transformers are tilted back to clear the bottom of the 15GP22. The closest area of this auxiliary chassis contains the open-frame vertical output transformer and 12BH7 vertical oscillator and output stage, seen here with its metal tube shield in place at the upper right corner of the output transformer.
Thanks to Steve Kissinger
for this great shot of his chassis.
But these are very close to what came off the modem.]
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 20:37:39 -0800 (PST)
From: Steve Dichter
To: Pete Deksnis
I hope all is well with you in the New Year.
I read with interest in Tibbits II about the recovery of the 19" Motorola color set. The 19" color sets produced in late 1954 bridged the gap between the overpriced small screen sets and the more consumer acceptable 21 inchers. The 19" sets were mainly produced by Motorola and CBS Columbia using the CBS 19VP22 picture tube. Several other makers also produced 19" versions in very small quantities. I do own a very rare Capehart 19" color set which uses that same tube. I have never seen or heard of another one. The model # is CXC12. I also have the factory set up and owner's instructions. The cabinet is typical of upright consoles not unlike the CT-100. The top is removable. The set has a 40-tube single chassis plus pix tube. It is currently stored at the UCLA TV archives. The Capehart was produced by the Capehart-Farnsworth Co. of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Just returned from a weekend visit to the Early Television Foundation in Hilliard, Ohio. In a very short time, the museum has managed to develop a premier, stunning display of instruments celebrating the development of distant vision technology. After being greeted at the reception desk, whirling sounds draw the new visitor to tiny, flickering red-orange images -- working examples of mechanical television. And that's just the start. Here's another small corner of the museum and my favorite...
Early Television Foundation
Early Color Room
Here I tried, really tried, but just couldn't keep my hands off -- I've just tweaked the hue control on the museum's operational CT-100. You will hear much more from and about this museum in the coming years... --Pete, 20 January 2002.
FROM A READER
...one good thing about a tube TV, if the programming on the
screen's no good, you can turn the set around
and enjoy the glow of the firebottles! Cheers.
THOMPSON TO SHUT U.S. PLANT AND...
Thompson Consumer Electronics, the largest maker of television sets in the United States, plans to close its only assembly plant in the United states next year and shift production to Mexico, slashing more than 1,500 jobs. Thompson, a French-owned company that makes the RCA, G.E. and Proscan brands, will close its Bloomington, Ind. television assembly factory, which has 1,100 workers, in April 1998. An additional 420 jobs will be lost when it stops making plastic television cabinets at an Indianapolis factory at the same time. The company plans to move the Bloomington work to a new factory in Juarez, Mexico, where labor costs are about $2.10 an hour. (AP)
But these are very close to what came off the modem.]
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2002 00:07:18 EST
Found the website on early color television fascinating. When I saw your query on surviving 15-inch televisions I was excited to write, for I have had one for years and I thought that perhaps I was the only one who thought it was cool. Mine is an RCA CT-100, 15 inch. It isn't operational at the moment, but it is complete, even down to its last service tag from 1967. It has quite an interesting history. It belonged to a woman very well known here in Seattle, in local broadcasting circles. She was the "Kitchen Queen" on KOMO television for at least thirty years. Story goes, they sent four to Seattle initially, and since she worked for the only station broadcasting in color at the time, she got one of the first. I acquired it in the late eighties from her son when she moved to a smaller apartment. It had been sitting in the basement for years! Anyhow, I have not had time to restore, but I continue to hold onto it, hoping someday...
carton housing an early production run Merrill with CTC-2 chassis B8000991. [I bid the
minimum 5 bucks, but if you really want it, another $0.50 will outbid me.] This is one of two
newly discovered CT-100s added to the Living CT-100 list -- both Merrills are in California.
Thanks to Steve Dichter for alerting me to this auction.
surrounding the original contents of the now-lost shipping carton.
collection was acquired by collectors before his passing, including the Hoffman Colorcaster.
The bid went to the next level by the next morning -- Pete.
But these are very close to what came off the modem.]
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 22:21:35 -0800
In 1968 I inherited a CTC-5H built in 1957. All it needed was a new focus pot and a couple of caps.
I got a great picture on it, but the tint control was way out of range. Without a schematic, I traced the circuit thru the tint pot, to a cap, and (the burst amp?). The tube was a 6CB6 as I recall, so I figured that a 6AU6 would have more interelectrode capacitance, and center the control.
I used to turn off all the lights, and when Star Trek came on (the Original series, first-run episodes), I had the brightness set so that in the beginning sequence, outer space was totally black, with only the stars shining. When the Enterprise flew by, the effect was startling. A far cry from today's TV which give us washed-out images on plastic boxes with tinny, resonant speakers.
It ran fine, until I went in the army for a few years. It still worked, but not as well, and I needed the room. Hopefully it's still in someone's house.
I still miss that set....
From Out of the Past...
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 14:13:21 -0800 (PST)
I was surfing the web today and came across many sites on early color tv including yours. I don't know if you are trying to track the CT-100s still in existence but if so, I have one! I got it about 25 years ago when I was in high school. I paid $30 for it. It was complete but the cabinet had some scratches as it sat in the electronics lab at school. It took me a few years but I did get it working. In the late 70s and early 80s I was a repairman in a local TV store. And now had the means to get it to work. I remember thinking at the time that it had that typical RCA color to it (I was always a Zenith person). Anyway, as with most old tvs (I have about 20 or so) if you don't plat them every so often they don't stay working and that is the case for my CT-100. Some day I'll get back to it.
As I was looking at your web site I saw the reference to the 2 inch suitcase tv that you built. This is interesting because I have always been interested in television and I bought that magazine back in '75 and I still have it. I was 14 then and read that article [click here] many times and had dreams of building one myself. I started to from time to time but never did get a finished set. I guess I still haven't given up as I bought a 2AP1 tube from ebay not too long ago.
Picture of Steve's CT-100 and more information on his information exchange page...
Here's an interesting logo from CT-100 owner Dave Abramson. He writes: The color logo is one I fixed up in Photoshop. It's a mid-50's camera-mounted side logo from original B&W art. I added color based upon a sample of the proper color in the same logo that NBC used.
But these are very close to what came off the modem.]
Subject: Hoffman Colorcaster...
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 03:48:50 -0700
Just for fun this morning, I typed in "Hoffman Colorcaster" into Google (I really should be sleeping right now, but...) and wound up on your webpage. I was sorry to hear about the guy who had one who died, but was glad to know that someone had gotten his TV. When I was a kid, we had one of these sets. My father purchased it new in 1955 (actually he got it wholesale... he was a Hoffman dealer -- Yowell's TV Radio Service, La Crescenta, CA). It was one of only two color TVs he sold during the time he had his TV shop (1951-1961).
It was a 21" model, seemed gigantic to me (I was born about the time my dad got the set), and the cabinet had that '50s style blond finish. It stopped working in 1961, victim of a failed flyback transformer. By this time, Hoffman had left the consumer electronics field, my father closed down his TV shop, and, at over $50.00 for a replacement, he just felt it was too expensive to repair this set. So it sat in our living room until 1966, acting as a stand for an RCA portable until replaced by a 23" Admiral, one of the early rectangular screen color sets.
It was then relegated to the junk room for a couple years, until we sold the house to the state of California, to be demolished to make way for the I-210 freeway. (If you get off that freeway using the Ocean View offramp, you drive right over the site of our old house.) That set was left behind with a 1946 vintage DuMont, probably several other now-interesting sets, and a 1957 Goliath microbus (when was the last time you saw one of THOSE?).
All of these, I presume, were flattened by big yellow Caterpillar tractors and hauled off to the dump.
These were things I would have liked to have saved, but to my folks they were all just old junk (kinda like a '286 computer), and who listens to a 12 year old kid anyway?
Take care, Jerry