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The Set: Pete Deksnis's Site about the CT-100

Restoring a Vintage Color Television Set


Some brief facts, observations, and data in a…


50-year tapestry of interwoven


Events, Companies, and People


  (1) Historical documentation describes two Zenith 15-inch prototype color receivers arriving in Los Angeles in time for the 1954 New Year’s Day broadcast, accompanied by technical staff member C. Heuer from Zenith headquarters in Chicago . Those sets went to the Zenith distributor in LA to promote Zenith’s involvement in the compatible color race. But, it would be nearly a decade before Zenith manufactured NTSC color sets for public sale.


In January 1964 I visited the big Zenith showroom in downtown Chicago. There in the back was a Zenith 21-inch roundie glowing in glorious color, albeit color from a color-bar generator stuffed somewhere behind the set. There were not yet enough daytime color broadcasts in Chicago during ’64 to demo the popular new Zenith color chassis. There were questions I had about the demodulation used; but the attendant was not versed in such nonsense, and so he danced right into a script, grabbed a sample cut-away tuner, and pointing, said what was important were these gold tuner contacts.


(2) Across the country on chilly 1954 New Year’s Day, a group of Philco employees and invited dealers gathered in downtown Philadelphia to witness network color-TV history on a single Philco-designed 15-inch color prototype.

Among that lucky group gathered in Philadelphia was A. C. Doernbach, a Philco dealer since 1948 from New Jersey. Two years later in 1956, Doernbach would receive one of the few Philco-built 21-inch color sets and install it in his living room above the TV-Appliance business where he and his family lived.


In April 2004 I visited the Doernbach showroom in downtown Egg Harbor City.

There in the second-floor living room was the 21-inch Philco roundie, standing unused since my visit to that Zenith showroom in Chicago forty years earlier.


We made a deal, shook hands, and my son, brother, and I moved the set from where it had been since 1956 to my home, seen here in 2004; now in the fall of 2005, that CT-100 is operational and restoration of Philco model 22D5102 is in progress...


Fact: RCA was just one of the companies to showcase NTSC Rose Bowl color on January 1, 1954.


Doernbach closed the doors of his business in 2005 after 57 years at the same location. His primary activity in the final years was vacuum cleaner repair.


Thanks to the C. Heuer and A. C. Doernbach whose shared memories from the early days of color television made this page possible. Also, thanks to Wayne Bretl for providing much insight and illumination into the world of television engineering history.